Monday, October 26, 2015

What Meeting Planners Want Their CSMs to Know

The Meeting Planner/Convention Services Manager relationship is an interesting one. You're assigned to work very closely with each other for a specific amount of time. You go through a lot together, working out every minute detail. It all culminates into a live event. And then it's over as quickly as it began.

Here's some things Meeting Planners want their CSMs to know.

We know you're busy.
It must be difficult focusing on in-house groups while your future planners are pulling you in multiple directions. I can see how that would make it hard to manage your time each day. While I'm mostly at my desk during the day, you may not even open your emails until 5pm. Just know that we understand the demands of your position.         

Our focus is this meeting.
While 4 months out you are mostly concerned with your in-house group and then with all the groups before us, for those four months we eat, sleep, and breathe THIS meeting. And we need your help.

Non-responsiveness is a silent killer.
Yes, we may bombard you with calls and emails every time we think of the smallest question. Even if we try our best to gather questions and then send to you all at once, you know our name is going to pop up in your inbox frequently. If you take a week to respond to one email, just know that we are panicking. Even sending a quick email saying you received our message and will get back to us tomorrow goes a long way for our mental stability.

We don't want to taint the relationship.
Even if we are concerned about your performance during the pre-planning stages, we probably won't tell you. You are our lifeline for this meeting. And this meeting is our baby. So the last thing we want to do is upset you and make you less eager to go above and beyond for us.

You have the power to make us look really good or really bad.
We take responsibility for the meeting in the eyes of our team, our bosses, the members/attendees and even the industry. So, if things go wrong during planning or on-site, it reflects poorly on us, whether or not it was within our control. On the other hand, if we work well together and the meeting runs smoothly, you can help us exceed the expectations of our invested parties.

We don't like giving bad feedback.
We really don't want to give you or your team poor results post-meeting. We want nothing more than to sing your praises to anyone who asks. But, we have to be honest. I've worked with CSMs who are outstanding on-site, but would take weeks to answer my questions in pre-planning. It made planning a big challenge and I felt obligated to mention it even though the live event was successful.

I've had some incredible CSMs that have made my life so easy, I want to send them a Christmas card. I've also had some not-so-stellar CSMs who have made me eager for my event to be over.

It's important to remember that for Meeting Planners, the pre-planning process is just as important as the live event. We want to feel like our CSMs are giving as much attention to our meeting as we are, even though we are just another group in their lineup.

In the end, we both want the same thing: a wildly successful event. With good communication and understanding of each other, we can get there.

1 comment:

  1. Love this! I'm not a meeting planner, but I plan off-campus events for a college. It's a cool job, but I'd love to get more into a meeting planner type job. Or at least one that's a little busier. Pre-planning is so important and I tend to do mine right away but since my events are smaller (though I have a lot), I have quite a few days where I'm like ... "Okay, so now what do I do?" :)


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