Whether your business is hosting a one-day meeting in your
office or a national convention at a major conference center
facility, the importance of selecting a skilled meeting planner
to organize the event cannot be overstated.
The success of your event and its impact on your professional
reputation hinges on the quality of the meeting planner you've
chosen. Meeting planners are responsible for coordinating the
hundreds of details that can go into preparing for any given
event, from booking the appropriate conference facilities to
orchestrating the event's daily schedule.
Whether you hire an independent meeting planner or contract one
through a conference facility, your planner should have the
expertise required to take the event to the next level. Gone
are the days when "the ability to envision and somewhat meander
through logistics of a company meeting or event was
acceptable," says Evelyn Laxgang, the International Chairwoman
of the Board of Meeting Professionals International, in the Los
Angeles Business Journal. "[T]he significance and value of a
successful meeting planner has risen dramatically within the
organizational structure. Today's planner possesses exceptional
visionary and procedural skills, patience, and the drive and
fortitude to execute strategic, effective meetings."
The Meeting Planner's Role
Let's role-play for a moment. You're an executive at a company
that has scheduled talks with a group of investors. Today is
the day of your big meeting. Mere hours are left before the
event starts. Would you rather spend the remaining time:
A. Preparing yourself to present the day's opening remarks,
B. Showing the caterer where to set up the refreshments while
making sure the welcome gifts for your group's VIPs have
If you picked option B, you should consider a career as a
meeting planner. Of course, if you're happy with your current
profession, option A seems like the smarter choice. The meeting
planner is someone who can focus entirely on the logistics of
the event, thereby freeing you to focus on the business at
Event planning involves managing a broad range of
responsibilities. A meeting planner is often in charge of
managing the selection of a conference facility, organizing
equipment, arranging a speaker, selecting a catering service,
and so on. An experienced meeting planner knows how to bring
all the elements together to create an effective meeting
scenario that runs smoothly and makes a good impression.
How to Find a Meeting Planner
Meeting planners can be hired independently or can be arranged
through the site that's hosting your event. Many conference
facilities provide meeting planners as part of an inclusive
event package. A prime example of a meeting site equipped to
set you up with a qualified conference planner is Q Center, the
premier Illinois conference facility and meetings site.
Q Center offers meeting packages that include a conference
planner, who works with you from pre- through post-meeting. The
Q Center facility also makes available professional support
from Q Center's on-site technology team and offers a hotline
that will respond to any last-minute needs.
During the corporate event planning phase, your organization's
meeting planner works closely with a Q Center professional
conference planning manager. This arrangement ensures that
conference planning is consistent, from concept to completion.
The conference facility's mission is to clear the obstacles to
productivity so you and your group can focus on your goal. Q
Center's meeting planners will do whatever it takes to make a
meeting an unqualified success.
There are a number of benefits associated with contracting a
meeting planner through a professional conference facility. In
many cases, these meeting planners have worked with the
facility before. They know the building, the staff, and are
aware of the available resources, which leaves them better
equipped to respond to your needs. When your conference
facility recommends a planner, you are more likely to get an
experienced professional rather than someone who works
part-time. Facility planners are able to focus their time on
your meeting, working on the event from start to finish.
If you prefer to hire an independent meeting planner, the
website of the International Special Events Society
(http://www.ises.com) features an online tool that enables you
to search for event planners by region and specialty. In fact,
many businesses are relying more on Internet research than
word-of-mouth to help them find a good meeting planner.
To select the right planner, you'll want to look at other
events the person has worked on, check references, and consider
how their professional skill set meets your needs. Ask whether
the person holds any certifications, such as the Certified
Meeting Professional (CMP) designation, Certified Special Event
Professional (CSEP) or the Certification in Meetings Management
(CMM). While not absolute guarantees of quality, certifications
show that the person has a certain amount of industry
experience and has made an investment to learn the trade.
Here are some tips for choosing a winning meeting planner:
• Check references from other businesses that have used the
planner for similar events. This applies even if the meeting
planner is recommended by your conference facility.
• Look for someone who specializes in the type of event you're
hosting. You don't want someone who plans family functions to
organize your important corporate event.
• Consider whether this is the planner's career, or merely a
part-time job. This can be a sign of experience and
• Send the planner a written description of what you'd like
your event to be. Then ask for a written proposal outlining the
planner's responsibilities and the budget before moving
The time it takes to select a professional who is a match for
your business' needs is minor in comparison to the time and
effort you'll save later on. Hiring an experienced meeting
planner can help to streamline your meeting process and make a
lasting, positive impression on business associates. Once you
have a top quality meeting planner on your team, you'll wonder
how you ever managed without.
R.L. Fielding Bio
R.L. Fielding has been a freelance writer for 10 years,
offering her expertise and skills to a variety of major
organizations in the education, pharmaceuticals and healthcare,
financial services, and manufacturing industries. She lives in
New Jersey with her dog and two cats and enjoys rock climbing
and ornamental gardening.
R. L. Fielding
June 26, 2006
About Q Center
This article was provided by Q Center, which is dedicated to
providing premier learning and conference facilities equipped
for total productivity and supported by a quality-focused team.
Q Center has the facilities and technology to create virtually
unlimited meeting scenarios. More than ordinary conference
facilities, Q Center is a conference complex. Located in the
western suburbs of Chicago, Q Center is conveniently accessible
to both of Chicago's major airports and to the many
organizations with headquarters and major offices in Chicago.
Visit http://www.qcenter.com for more information.
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