Last updated on June 14th, 2022 at 01:03 am
Identify your purpose in the event planning process
If you’re planning a meeting or special event for your business, you might want to ask yourself why.
Not that you want to talk yourself out of the event.
Rather, you need to know the underlying reason for the meeting if it’s to be truly successful, say area meeting and event planners.
“When I start working with a client, I ask them, ‘What do you want to accomplish?’,” says Lynn Johnson, who runs AccessPoint, Inc., a meeting and event planning business, in Menomonee Falls.
A great majority of businesses don’t have a clear idea of event purpose going into an initial planning session, observes Johnson, who also coordinates the office of the Wisconsin chapter of Meeting Professionals International.
Pat Berg, of Meet Milwaukee, Inc., in Fox Point, agrees. “First decide what your purpose is,” she says.
Thus, a large part of what meeting and event planners do for businesses is help clarify purpose. That not only helps set the direction of the event, but it also helps in gauging success.
“It’s important to focus on results,” says Linda Jackson Cocroft, president of I Am Events in Shorewood. “What is the anticipated outcome of hosting your meeting or event?”
Once you’ve determined your objective and you start looking for venues like a banquet room, don’t just look at the amenities the facilities have to offer, advises Janet Sperstad, a certified meeting planner and past president of the Wisconsin chapter of Meeting Planners International, a Menomonee Falls-based group.
“Look at the people who service the facility,” she advises, noting that while a facility may look great, the people who support it may not be up to par. “The people make the most impact.”
Facilities, for their part, will also be looking at your value to their establishments. Jim Lynch, director of sales for the Milwaukee Hyatt, notes that hotels and other such facilities that offer meeting space are interested in maximizing their participation. That includes room nights and food and beverage service.
If you want all the meeting space but don’t need to reserve hotel nights, the facility might rather offer the space to someone who will use room nights.
Lynch also touts the value of working with a professional meeting planner. It makes the whole process easier for all parties, he says.
“We know all the pitfalls,” says Meet Milwaukee’s Berg.
With all the pitfalls avoided, how do you know whether your event was a success? Meeting planners have a process to determine return-on-investment, says AccessPoint’s Johnson. That’s all incumbent, however, on having a clear picture of what you wanted to accomplish. “A lot of times, they say they had a good time, but you need to look far more closely at it than that,” Johnson says. In some situations, sales meetings, for example, you can watch for sales increases.
And, adds Jackson Cocroft, don’t forget the marketing value of a meeting or event. She notes the words of California planning guru David Nilson, “Events are marketing tools that identify and attract potential customers or others who can impact the bottom line.”
July 1998 Small Business Times, Milwaukee