At the beginning of January, PCMA- the world’s largest network of Business Events Strategists- hosted its most important, influential and inspiring industry event, Convening Leaders. Each year this event brings together business events professionals from around the world. This year’s conference was held in Pittsburgh and was themed “Disrupt and Deliver,” focusing on ways to break from the old, finding new and innovative methods of planning unforgettable events.
This year, I was not only able to attend, but to also moderate a session, “Negotiating Beyond the Typical Venue Contract” with several colleagues in the field.
In this session we discussed topics that are above and beyond venue contracts such as:
- Labor issues (strikes)
- Social justice and government policy (discrimination)
- Security (physical and cyber)
- Cannabis (no explanation needed)
The session panelists were:
- Jacqueline Kavcak – Tourism Vancouver
- Robert Smith, CMP, CMM – American Educational Research Association (AERA)
- Neil Schriever – Marriott
- Kerry Crockett, MBA, CAE, CMP, DES – International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM)
- Josh Grimes, Esq. – Grimes Law Offices, LLC
So, with all of these experts, what did everyone learn?
Meeting planners recommended:
- Know the value of your meeting and what you can afford
- Show the value of your meeting in the request for proposal (RFP) by providing a minimum of three years of history – Sell your meeting, its background and its past number of attendees to whomever is writing your proposal. When they know the details, they can provide you with the best proposal possible.
- Connect with your destination marketing organization (DMO). They know the area of your meeting, venues, vendors-they are the pros when it comes to your location. Utilize them and their knowledge to promote your meeting and to use the area to your utmost advantage.
- Consistency counts
- Be upfront – No one likes to talk about concerns or challenges of a meeting but it’s vital information to the meeting planner. Being caught off-guard can have dire effects on your event.
- List concessions and nonnegotiable in one area – If there are things/items “must-haves” that you are aware of, list them in your RFP, prioritizing them for the planner. If you have flexibility in an area or with a request, that needs to be noted too.
- Be proactive – If you know that there is a session that could potentially attract protesters, let the meeting planner know. Have a group that tends to start a little late? Tell the planner so they have the ability to move the schedule to start it at a different time. Anticipate everything so everyone is ready if and when it happens.
- Know your position – What are you willing to do if a situation arises? Will you stand firm, will you back down, can your meeting make an adjustment if needed? Having the answers to those questions are crucial.
- Provide feedback after the meeting – A venue/meeting team can’t adjust if they don’t know what needs to be improved. If the team went above and beyond your expectations, corporate needs to know what a great job that particular location is doing. As you would do a post-con wrap up meeting, you need to give the location and the meeting planner your feedback, regardless of what it is. It’s not a bad idea to ask for their feedback for you as well!
Regardless of the size, type or industry, your meeting planner wants your event to succeed just as much as you do. Planning the event is a partnership-each party brings a lot of experience to the table so make sure everyone is able to put their skillset to best use!