By Stacy Daeffler
A youthful and experienced panel of millennial meeting planners was on hand at Destination Colorado’s annual Town Hall Meeting held recently at Table Mountain Inn in Golden, Colorado. Current trends, lines of communication, use of social media, the evolution of meeting planning and supplier relationships were among topics discussed by four Colorado-based planners representing KMPG Financial Services, HelmsBriscoe, Kinsley Meetings and PETCO Animal Supplies, Inc. Here are some insights you won’t want to miss.
Site Selections – Location, customer service and relationships are all important. Is the supplier a known partner, and will the planner get what they need from them in a responsive and respectful way? Planners tend to follow an individual rather than a company; often times the relationship and trust that has been built with trusted partners are more important that the property itself. However, if a supplier is unresponsive or not quick to respond, they are almost immediately eliminated as an option. “What is the point of your meeting?” inquiries tells a planner that you are serious about their event and interested in what they have to say. Take the time to really listen. Also rely on meeting planner network for recommendations.
Sourcing & Relationships – These planners utilize word of mouth, CVENT, industry partners/coworkers, Trip Advisor and trusted relationships with suppliers. They suggest making the relationship personal and like meeting people through networking and industry events. Get to know them. Do they have kids? What are their interests? If, for example, they recently ran a marathon, you may not want to drop of a pound of fudge as a gift. Or, maybe cookies aren’t the best things to drop off at my office that is gluten free.
Is Social Media Important to Meeting Planners? – No, not really. They feel that creativity is being lost by over-utilizing technology. It seems that stakeholders are trending toward more hand-on activities to get away from the current trend of smartphones and tablets.
Best Practices for Suppliers – If you are planning to come by a planner’s office, make an appointment. If bringing a gift, make it personal. A great idea is to buy a Starbucks gift card and have a coffee Skype meeting.
Don’t Evers – Don’t spend 90% of the time talking and 10% of the time listening. Don’t send back an incomplete RFP or ask for information already provided in the RFP. Don’t send an auto-response, instead take the time to actually read the RFP and make your email response personal. Don’t send banquet menus; send meal suggestions as personalization is important.
Unavailable Dates – Should suppliers respond to RFPs if they can’t accommodate the dates or pricing requested? Yes. Some meetings/events have flexibility, while others do not. The planners indicated they might be able to talk to their stakeholder into other dates/pricing if they like a particular property.
Preferred Ways to Communicate – The panel recommended email or making an appointment. Some of the planners work from home and check email at 11 p.m., while others are in an office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. LinkedIn is fine, but if you send a message, make it personal. Networking events are also great. Broadcast e-blasts are not as well received as something personal and creative.
Even though all four women fall are part of the millennial generation, they emphasized that it is more of a mindset than an age group. They want to do something to make a difference in the world, both professionally and personally. Whereas boomers are loyal to brand, millennials are loyal to meeting industry partners, more flexible and change their minds all of the time. They are always looking for the greatest and newest and not the tried and true.
Stacy Daeffler has filled the Coordinator and Membership Engagement role for Destination Colorado since 2013. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.