• maryjowiseman


Updated: Apr 23, 2021

The hospitality industry is a global community and a huge revenue generator for our country.

The shutdown as a result of COVID-19 has certainly upset the apple cart and is having a severe impact on the people who live and breathe by our industry.

I understand full well what everyone is going through right now and we are all a part of this – planners and suppliers alike.

Independent planners, in particular, are overwhelmed with cancellations of one kind or another, and not knowing when their next commission check or contract is coming. My situation as a corporate planner was obviously different, but we do share other worries and woes.

Special events and meetings have been cancelled. Hotels and restaurants and many auxiliary services have been shuttered. But this shall pass.

There’s light at the end of the tunnel. We must concentrate on the present and plan for the future -- NOW.

In my career, I went through three changes in leadership at the top, numerous mergers and acquisitions, down-sizing, and not to mention 9/11 where I was on my way to advance meetings and social events as part of a major insurance-related annual event and saw meeting after meeting cancelled for some time thereafter.

Stuff happens and it’s never pleasant, it’s never easy but we do find our way.

Where there was downsizing or unexpected interruptions that caused cancellations, I looked at the down time as opportunities to reboot and retool to:

  • Learn and grow. Keep your career in permanent BETA mode by continually reading, listening to webinars and podcasts. Challenge yourself by trying new and different ways of doing things.

  • Merge and purge. Sort through your files; delete the irrelevant. De-clutter your office.

  • Research and site new venues.

  • Review existing policies, procedures and best practices.

  • Implement new ideas to enhance or change what's been done in the past. Keep it fresh. Keep it simple.

  • Refine and streamline planning processes and associated working documents (such as your Meeting Time Line, Overall Meeting Action Plan, Request for Proposal (RFP), and Daily Function Detail Meeting Plan.

  • Take time for YOU! Do things you enjoy doing to stay healthy and upbeat.

It's also important to your personal and professional well-being to stay connected with others. Surrounding yourself with upbeat people, will help you sustain your passion and may just shed some much needed sunshine on another person's day as well.

If a speaker reaches out, take their call, read their collateral or offer to watch their video.

There are a lot of good speakers with inspirational messages on their videos or in their books that just might help you get through a bad day, not to mention be a great fit for a program somewhere down the road.

If a hotel sales person or some other supplier reaches out, take their call. You'll both feel better.

I did this because I wanted to LEARN something new; I had the time; and I wanted to feel connected and be connected.

It’s a WIN-WIN all around.

I wanted to remember; I wanted to file the information away for the day when life would once again return to some semblance normal. I never knew when I might get the call from a meeting host and wanted to have fresh ideas to share when the opportunity presented itself.

Oftentimes, I would get a call out of the blue from someone representing a venue that wasn’t on my radar screen, but might have been a great fit somewhere down the road. Because of their call, the caller and the venue remained fresh in my mind. The same can be true of any supplier partnership.

I recently took part in a day-long virtual global education meeting and while I missed the in-person experience, I felt energized by what I heard/learned that day.

Here are a few additional ideas to create interest and add value.

  • Review and update your existing email distribution list.

  • Review and update your prospect list (if different from your distribution list).

  • Reach out to existing clients; keep them updated on what's happening.

  • Reach out to past clients. Perhaps their situation has changed since last contact; your call could serve as a reminder should they need assistance now or in the not to distant future. Or, perhaps there's someone new in the position; this is your time to introduce yourself.

  • Review and update your website.

  • If you blog, review existing blogs, update the ones most in need of a refresh and then re-post.

  • Blog more. What do your readers what to/need to hear more about? What new information/ideas do you have to share with them?

  • If you like to write and haven't yet been published, consider writing an article or a guest blog, or perhaps a book. (If I can do this, you can too.)

  • Connect with your hotel, restaurant or other contacts asking to do a site visit/review and then blog about it.

  • Cross market your services with your suppliers.

Something else to consider:

What if your job was eliminated and one of the people reaching out to you knew of an opening that he/she thought would be a good fit for you? Would you want to miss that opportunity just because ….?

This works both ways. You could be watching a video and like what you see/hear. You may not have a need right now; but, someone you know could and will appreciate the referral.

People need to be respectful and mindful, thoughtful and considerate when making calls or sending out email blasts, but isn’t that what we in the hospitality industry are all about? Let’s not lose those connections, those relationships, those friendships just because of timing or circumstance.

Reboot and retool and be prepared!

Take stock of the things you can do better, the changes you can do now to prepare for what’s next.

And, stay connected.


Mary Jo Wiseman, CMP | Author, “The Meeting Planning Process: A Guide to Planning Successful Meetings” | https://www.maryjo-wiseman.net

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