This is Why Planners Need to Get Strategic

December 20, 2017

Christy Lamagna

Christy Lamagna is the founder of and Master Strategist at Strategic Meetings & Events. For the last decade her focus has centered around disrupting the meetings industry. She is teaching planners to evolve into meeting strategists, who think with curious minds and learn to create meeting environments that shorten sales cycles and influence attendee behavior. A lifelong learner, intellectual philanthropist and author, Christy taught college-level strategic planning for 10 years which helped inspire her book, “The Strategic Planning Guide for Event Professionals.” Read all of Christy's "Get Strategic" blog posts for CEN here

A potential new client called me the other day asking for help planning a large meeting in conjunction with a much larger citywide event. When we received the initial inquiry, we were guardedly optimistic that this was a solid piece of new business. We prepared for the call, outlining who would handle what aspects of the conversation, establishing a flow for follow up questions and doing some preliminary research on the citywide, the client and possible venues.

Within literally sixty seconds after our small talk ended, we knew that we had a familiar and frustrating problem on our hands. Here’s a recap of the conversation:

Christy: “Would you start by telling us why you are holding this event?

Reply: “Sure. As you know, there’s a huge citywide in town so we need to be there.”

Christy: “Understood, but in terms of the event you are hosting, what’s the purpose?

Reply: “We want to have a party.”

Christy: “Is this to promote your brand, launch a new product, attract new clients, reward top clients, hand out samples, improve brand recognition?

Reply: “Our CEO loved the party we threw last year so we are doing it again this year.”

And on and on it goes. Unfortunately, this aimless event had a huge budget, a very green planner in charge and a high-profile audience to attract, which translates to a lot of money spent on an event with no goal by a person who isn’t yet qualified to be doing his/her job.

This is what used to make me want to quit my job and join the circus. (Who doesn’t want to be a member of the flying Wallendas?) Now I end these calls inspired and more intent than ever to help the event industry and its dedicated professionals to evolve into a more sophisticated form of planner; specifically, strategic planners.

To do this, we must come together as an industry and form a common goal, expand our shared vocabulary, better understand how to measure ROI and demonstrate an event’s value to an organization’s bottom line and to clearly articulate the pivotal role we play in making it all happen. Without this change, we will continue to combat rampant misconceptions around what we do, why events are held and the skills we bring to the table. Our talents will be equated to that of party and wedding planners, and our potential will go largely untapped.

By banding together and becoming strategic in our professional vision, brand and goals, we will set the stage to change the way we are perceived, meetings are held and the place we hold in their creation.

Intrigued? Ready for a change? Follow me on Twitter: @SMEChristy, read more at and contact me at: It’s time we took our future in our hands.

Submitted by Cat Stevans (not verified) on Wed, 01/03/2018 - 10:28

Great piece and inspiring in your vision for strategic planners

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