It is amazing to me that through all my years in this business, it seems as if almost every meeting planner has developed a personal relationship with the CEO of his or her company.
The media is constantly quoting CEOs on their respective companies and industries. We hang on their every word in presentations, check on countless details for them, and often pull off the “impossible” on short notice. Recently, many planner positions have been lost, victims to budget cutbacks. Yet, it may be that in these troubled times a planner's skills and knowledge of corporate culture are needed the most.
With this in mind, I decided to highlight a few areas of meeting planning that your CEO should know about.
Meeting planning is a position that actually pays for itself. With one or two mid-sized meetings, I would argue that the meeting planner position pays for itself, and beyond that actually adds to the bottom line via productivity savings.
Meeting planners handle many sensitive business and personal issues in the office and on the road. How many public relations disasters for the organization have planners avoided by knowing the culture? I believe that good meeting planners have even saved the careers of their CEOs by helping them to avoid serious gaffes.
Meeting planners have a broad perspective about what's going on within their companies. Too often the “executive floor” becomes insulated from what is happening on in the “production floor,” or even, just as important, on the “client floor.” But a meeting planner is exposed to people at all ranks in the company, inside and outside the office, as well as to materials, presentations, and interaction in various departments. The meeting planner has the opportunity to be more in tune with operations than almost anyone else in the company.
Purchasing is easy compared to what a planner does. What other “purchaser” has to negotiate with a supplier and then go “operate” in their factory? The planner is expected to get a great rate, save the company money … and then, do that little “impossible” favor for a family member of an executive.
A meeting planner is a mini-CEO. Think about it, what other person in the company, besides the CEO, has to work with budgets, project management, communications, presentations, negotiations,, security, facilities, transportation, clients, sales operations, graphics, entertainment, staging, catering, information technologies, sensitive corporate materials, executives, line employees, advertising, and promotion? The bottom line is, a good CEO is usually a good generalist with a keen sense of mission and the ability to build teams that execute that mission.
Kind of like what planners do every day.
Bill Wulff is president of Above The Rim Events, LLC (www.abovetherimevents.com), based in Fort Lee, N.J. He can be reached by phone at (201) 585-2075.