Full Disclosure… I organize events where people meet people. I guess this is a self-serving article, but since someone else asked me to write it I also guess it’s OK. Here’s the over-simplified punchline first…
If you don’t care about time, money and your effectiveness, then relationships don’t matter. If you do, they do.
A long story made short… for over ten years I helped a Senior Bank VP organize the annual international meeting for their CEO by sourcing the best hotels and using my lifetime of relationships to get the best venue, rate, concessions and ground suppliers, while assuring the highest level of discretion and security. I trusted my contacts for their professionalism and integrity. If they promised me something, I could literally ‘take it to the Bank”.
On the domestic side, this institution mandated that all meetings be channeled through their travel partners computer based search engine and booking tool.
My client asked me to conduct an experiment. She gave me the specs for a domestic event and I sourced it directly through a DOS friend of mine at the best hotel in that city. Within 48 hours we got a great proposal, rate, concessions etc.
The client then sent the same specs to their travel supplier via their required electronic form. A sourcing person at the travel company entered the RFP into their system, it went to a coordinator at the hotel who passed it along to the salesperson responsible for third-party leads. They responded with a form proposal… a higher rate plus fewer concessions. No one had actually spoken to anyone throughout this entire transaction.
Humans evolved as social animals and when we meet our brains do a million calculations. Unconscious pattern recognition routines kick in and tell us who we can trust and who we need to keep our eye on. There are definitely some skilled con artists out there who can initially fool you, but over time we figure it out (hopefully before it’s too late) and we develop various levels of relationships, even friendships, that can last a career (no matter where that takes either party).
What does this have to do with meeting planning?
It’s pretty simple. You are MEETING PLANNERS. You are in the business of arranging for people to meet one another to further a common goal. It is a good thing and you know it. Why would you not want to meet the people you may someday be working with before committing yourself to what can amount to a significant financial liability?
This is why it is important for meeting professionals to organize their time to attend industry events whenever they can and meet their Seller counterparts as well as their planner colleagues to educate themselves about destinations, best practices and the latest technologies. More importantly, to develop a HUMAN contact that will stay a human connection far longer than one transaction. The Sellers want to meet you too. Not just because they see dollar signs when they look at you (although there is always some of that), but because sales people also want to establish those trusting relationships. They too are committing to a financial liability on behalf of their employers and their reputations (and careers) are dependent on you coming through with the business you promised.
So… whether you attend my events or not (you should), as a lifetime career building exercise, get out there, attend all of those trade shows, networking events, hosted buyer opportunities… whatever puts you in touch with humans. Get to know them as both people and partners. It will not only last you a lifetime, it will make your life better.
April 11th, San Francisco, our 17th Annual All Things Meetings Reception and Trade Show. Free for qualified planners. Click here for details.
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