18 September, 2019, 05:26

Why Meeting Planning Technology Doesn’t Replace Meeting Planners

Tech is changing just about every industry – including how jobs are done, and whether a job is done by a human at all. The event planning industry is no exception. As the years pass, there are fewer meeting planner positions because parts of the role are made easier or obsolete based on new meeting planning technology. There are, however, attributes that a corporate meeting planner can embody to maximize their value to their organization, ensuring their place for years to come. We talked with Nicole Chattin, 15-year industry veteran and Senior Program Manager of Brightspot Incentives & Events, about these qualities and their importance to the meeting planning process.

They Invest in Relationships

As you build rapport with the client, you’ll learn their pet peeves and preferences, and when hosting in-person meetings, you’ll be able to easily gauge if they’re excited, happy, annoyed, or upset, just based on their body language and reaction. “Your client may despise melon on morning breaks, prefer to communicate via Bitmojis, or have a hot button issue, like flawless arrival ground transportation,” Chattin muses of her client’s preferences. When planning annual events for clients, you learn what works best historically, and can make informed recommendations. It’s not an exact science, and that’s the point.

They’re a Never-Empty Well of Creativity

It’s never easy to constantly one-up yourself as a meeting planner coming up with creative ideas for annual events, but that’s exactly the role a seasoned meeting professional embraces. The most creative planners find inspiration beyond the typical trade media and Pinterest, pulling ideas from a Youtube sensation one day, an interior designer the next. “Meeting professionals must be creative in all aspects of event planning,” says Chattin. “From brainstorming the theme to sending off attendees and everything in between, like room drop gifts, there are plenty of opportunities to separate yourself and surprise the client.”

They Have Your Back, Always

“Meeting planners can draw on knowledge from past experience to be proactive in logistical areas, like risk management,” says Chattin. This is the sort of job that clients shouldn’t aim to automate – they should want an experienced set of eyes looking over everything and having backup plans ready to go. “Risk management and duty of care are hot topics, and the more proactive a meeting planner is regarding these elements, the less risk, liability, and cost there is at stake for the client,” says Chattin. Think of and address the little things that will surprise, delight, and satisfy your clients.

They’re Flexible, Even When You’re Stressed

Chattin is quick to remind us that event planners are known to have one of the most stressful jobs in the world, and often appear high on ranked lists. Still, maintaining flexibility and keeping cool is part of the job for the strongest planners. “When faced head-on with an issue or crisis, meeting planners must stay calm and flexible to produce a solution quickly,” says Chattin. “In the weeks leading up to an event, oftentimes key stakeholders aren’t laser-focused on the upcoming meeting until the couple weeks prior, at which time, they provide their feedback. The best meeting planners are flexible in accepting and implementing feedback, making recommendations, and leaning on partners to make any necessary changes.”

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