A meeting planner by MY definition is the go-to person and would/should be a key member of the design (or planning) team within an organization – be it corporate, association or otherwise – charged with the responsibility of planning and executing a meeting or special event.
Planners utilize their project management experience, planning skills and attention to detail to help create and deliver events that meet or exceed expectations. They add value to an organization by drawing upon their knowledge of the hospitality industry to manage expenses and minimize risk by negotiating the best all-around rates and paying attention to contract terms.
A meeting planner has the keen ability to bring the right people and resources together to create and deliver programs that best meet the strategic goals, objectives and key messages to a defined audience.
A meeting planner is there to partner with team members to take responsibility for the things they do best which gives others more time to concentrate on the things they do best, whether it’s the day-to-day operation of a business unit or the company’s overall bottom line. The planner is there to help ensure the success of a program. Their goal is to make the meeting host and their organization SHINE.
Meeting planners are project managers in that they are managers of the meeting projects they oversee and as such possess character traits that I believe are quite transferable to other careers. A professional meeting planner whose sole responsibility is to plan meetings, however, I also believe has an advantage over those who are called upon to plan meetings only occasionally because of their knowledge and understanding of the hospitality industry -- especially when it comes to contracts. I came into this industry from the administrative side, so I know this to be true. There's definitely a learning curve but it's certainly attainable.
The site, search and selection of venues for meetings and events was always something I especially enjoyed. The research process was challenging but in a good way. I utilized similar skills as a prospect researcher prior to becoming a meeting planner and then again after my job was eliminated where I did prospect donor research for a non-profit organization I volunteered with. The skills I brought to the process were similar but transferable; it was only the subject matter that was different. We all have transferable skills. We just have to find our niche and then find a way to make it work for us.
Here are a few of the more common character traits a professional meeting planner must possess to be successful.
1. Cool. Calm. Collected.
2. Confident. (Comes with practice.)
12. Flexible – Ability to adapt or adjust to new situations without compromising core values or principles. Open to new ideas and perspectives.
13. Resilient – Ability to recover quickly from setbacks, challenges, and/or difficult conditions. The capacity to bounce back while maintaining a positive attitude.
14. Adaptable – Ability to adjust to new or changing circumstances. Capacity to modify one’s behavior, thinking or approach to meet the demands of a new situation.
15. Leads and directs with grace under pressure.
16. Innate ability to see the big picture.
17. Strong interpersonal skills – easily understood, clear, concise, persuasive.
18. “Telescopic” mindset. Ability to zoom in and out from high level to minute quickly and seamlessly.
19. Works well both independently and as a member of a team.
20. Ability to prioritize tasks.
21. Does whatever needs to be done with a SMILE
22. Lifelong learner; student of experiential learning.
Can you add to this list? I’d like to hear from you.
To learn more about the meeting planning profession and the meeting planning process, I hope you will consider checking out my book, “The Meeting Planning Process: A Guide to Planning Successful Meetings.” It’s based on my career as a corporate meeting professional and offers a comprehensive, commonsense approach to the entire meeting planning process that will help keep you focused on time and on task. It’s available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/1535511842.
Take care. Be well. And never stop LEARNING.