It’s baffling why people would think planning events is an easy, fun or frivolous task. We’ve worked with hundreds of meeting planners during our combined decades-long career in the hospitality industry. And, we can honestly say that meeting planners are some of the most skilled, hardest working and meticulous people on the planet.
So, it’s natural that we roll our eyes when we hear clichés about meeting planning and have the urge to correct them.
Here, we bust the latest meeting planning myths and misconceptions:
Planning a Meeting is Simple
Reality: Meeting planning is anything and everything BUT straightforward or simple. Instead, planning an event is a complex web of overlapping priorities and deadlines: Budgets to manage, clients to please, vendors to research and select, logistics to map out, marketing assets to create, staff to oversee, contracts to negotiate, attendees to attract…whew!
On any given day, a meeting planner can be mapping out attendee arrivals, examining legal issues and applying for permits, negotiating separate contracts with multiple vendors, securing event sponsors, organizing attendee lists, creating event materials, working on a blog post to market the event, and researching possible off-site activities.
A planning to-do list is seemingly endless, not even when the meeting is over.
Anyone (Even a Volunteer) Can Plan a Meeting
Reality: This is one of the most common assumptions of event planning.
There’s a reason why many meeting planners hold event management degrees, several years of experience and even pursue more qualifications, like a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP).
The amount of work it takes to plan an event or meeting is massive, complicated and neverending. It takes an incredibly skilled person to balance all the roles embodied in a single meeting planner, including creative director, money manager, director of logistics, etc, and to execute those roles seamlessly.
Yet, many non-profit organizations and associations believe they can save money by turning to volunteers to plan their events. It doesn’t take long to see where things can go wrong. While they mean well, volunteers aren’t dedicated to this one responsibility. Oftentimes, they still have a day job and any event-related task will never take top priority. Skipping deadlines will be the norm, as volunteers will often ‘get to it when they get to it.’ Plus, an event run by volunteers can actually go over budget!
Only those experienced at planning meetings or events know the ins and outs of local vendor relationships, have negotiated contracts already in place, and know where to cut corners and where it’s necessary to invest.
You Only Need Meeting Planners for Large Events
Reality: It’s easy to believe that meeting planners are only required for that large corporate conference or the annual 3-day executive retreat. But, even smaller events require a dedicated manager who will oversee meeting content, speakers, logistics, venue, food, travel details, marketing materials, follow-up, etc.
Only someone well-versed on meeting planning could take an event concept on paper and create a real-life experience that fulfills the event’s goals. Plus, professionals who plan are on top of all the latest trends in event tech, décor, and food and beverage that can simplify the meeting process and elevate even the smallest of events.
Meeting Planners Basically Just Do the Same Thing Every Year
Reality: This is why so many companies and associations assume they can turn to volunteers to simply copy and recreate last year’s event. However, that’s ignoring one aspect of event planning that only a professional will have their pulse on – innovation.
Meeting planners are always trying to top their last event with the latest technology, décor, food, and activities that boost that event’s ROI. They like to push the envelope and keep attendees on their toes, and they know exactly which trends can achieve specific goals. For instance, a corporate meeting that brings global employees together will require a completely different format than an association’s educational event.
So, while smart planners set-up systems and event templates to streamline their process, they are always raising their own bar with fresh takes on events.
Technology Will Eventually Replace Meeting Planners
Reality: While there is a TON of meeting technology that have simplified and streamlined meetings and events, it is only as good as the people managing them. Tech solutions assist in the tedious minutiae of events, such as hotel sourcing, registration and ticketing, event reporting, or audience engagement. However, there still needs to be an event leader who makes all the decisions and take the time to learn how each tech solution works, how to integrate into existing meetings and how to manage to achieve each event’s goals.
Planning professionals will continue to be both the brains and brawn of an event, with or without technology.