Meeting planners enjoy networking at industry meetings. They share ideas, commiserate about challenges, compare travel schedules. But it’s unusual when a senior executive and meeting owner takes the time to attend an industry conference to validate the work planners do.
Donna Marzo, vice president, marketing support, for Prudential International Insurance, participated in a leadership panel at the Financial & Insurance Conference Planners 2016 Winter Symposium in Boston earlier this year, crediting Prudential’s meeting team with helping to increase participant satisfaction at the major annual program that is critical to her business success.
Marzo worked in U.S. operations for Prudential for 25 years before shifting to the international company, she said, eventually taking over responsibility for the international sales incentive conference. Total attendance is 1,200 people, which includes 400 qualifiers plus families and Prudential executives. There are 12 companies represented, based in Asia, Europe, and Latin America, and seven languages spoken. “It’s a very complex program, but it’s so important to our business because all the sales leaders and executives are coming together,” Marzo said. The program’s many objectives include motivating the salespeople, delivering corporate messages, and “building that connection with Prudential, our shared values, and our shared mission.”
The agenda includes a welcome reception, three general sessions, a CEO dinner, and a black-tie closing banquet, in additional to pre-conference meetings. Faced with that complexity, Marzo said, “I made the decision to go to Prudential’s meeting department, and we began our partnership with Erin Longo. It has made a huge difference in the program’s professionalism. They have so much expertise.” Erin Longo, CMP, is the director of Prudential’s conference and meeting services department, which includes nine meeting planners and three administrative staff.
Marzo also credited the meeting team with “taking time to learn about the business and what drives it, and about the overall importance of the conference. We’ve improved the conference over the past five years because of our customer focus, and we’ve seen a significant increase in those who report that they are ‘very satisfied.’”
And, as Marzo pointed out, it’s not only about that on-site satisfaction. “It’s more than just those four days. It’s what they bring back when they talk to their associates, talk up the program, and inspire and motivate their colleagues to reach for qualification.”