Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

October 27 2014

3 Things That Should Scare Meeting Planners

By David McMillin

Horror movie marathons are kicking off on TV. Haunted houses are welcoming visitors around the country. The calendar’s creepiest holiday is just around the corner.

There are plenty of standard reasons to be scared around Halloween. However, there are also some spooky signs lurking in the corners of the meetings industry, too. As you gear up for the October 31st celebration, here are three things that should scare meeting planners.

1) Feeling like your organization is unwilling to change.

Change can feel very uncertain. What if your attendees don’t like a new format for your education sessions? Will a different approach to designing your trade show floor upset exhibitors? How will your veteran attendees respond if you don’t print a program guide?

While these questions can raise concerns, failing to embrace change can lead to many bigger problems.

“In the meetings industry, so many of us are so afraid of failure that we wind up being afraid to change,” Donny Neufuss, Senior Account Manager, Mediasite Services, Sonic Foundry, says. “Attendees are changing, though, and we have to offer new ways to learn and engage with content. In many ways, change is the most essential ingredient of success.”

The good news is that you don’t have to completely overhaul your experience. As you look ahead to your next meeting, challenge each of the members of your team to think of small changes to incorporate. Be sure to ask attendees for feedback so you can continue tweaking your program.

SEE ALSO: 4 Tips For Leading Change

2) Lacking a real risk management plan for your meetings.

From AV equipment failures to labor disputes to natural disasters to attendee accidents, the list of potential hazards at any meeting is very long. Are you prepared to deal with one of these if they actually occur?

If the answer is no, you’re not alone. A recent survey from American Express revealed that approximately 50 percent of planners and leaders in their organizations do not believe their risks are properly mitigated. As you look ahead to your next meeting, it’s crucial to develop a step-by-step response plan in the event of an emergency. To get you started, PCMA is offering a free template with suggestions on how to deal with troubling scenarios.

“We developed this emergency action template to help meeting professionals think in advance, as well as on-site, about how to handle a variety of crisis situations at live events,” Kelly Peacy, CAE, CMP, Senior Vice President, Education and Meetings, PCMA, says. “Developed with the assistance of several PCMA members, it’s a free resource that delivers a set of recommended procedures to help make sure every staff member understands their responsibilities and every attendee is safe.”

FREE DOWNLOAD: PCMA’s Emergency Action Plan Template

3) Avoiding virtual education.

It’s a question that continues to stir up chatter around the industry: will a hybrid event eat away at face-to-face attendance?

While many meeting planners worry that the answer is yes, plenty of studies have debunked that myth.

“The reality is that offering a portion of your meeting in a hybrid format is one of the best strategies for building on-site attendance,” Mary Reynolds Kane, Senior Director, Experience Marketing, says. “It’s the ultimate way to pique the interest of those who want to see what your meeting has to offer but may not be quite ready to invest in the entire experience.”

If you’re still struggling to outline a plan that will carry your on-site content to the remote masses, now is the time to make a plan. For helpful advice, check out “6 Steps To Take Your Meeting Hybrid.”

What else do you think haunts the meetings industry? Go to Catalyst to share your thoughts.

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