Planning meetings is a tried and true practice that evolves in large jumps more often than it does in small increments. The cruise meeting is a great example of this as it is an entirely new format that is barely a few decades old. Despite that many meeting planners do not truly understand the difference in planning cruise meetings, such as:
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The same meetings over and over can be boring and might be a great way to have the management and/or powers that be wonder how important a meeting planner is. On the other hand, a meeting planner that is always trying new ideas for meetings is highly desirable even if they fail. After all, it is difficult to justify the cost of a scheduler after a company gets into a rhythm but if that scheduler seems to be constantly trying to improve efficiency, then they are certainly worth keeping as they are nothing if not a team player.
The question becomes one of how a meeting planner can continue to keep meetings fresh. Here are a few great ideas:
If you are in charge of planning meetings and/or events for a company, you might quickly discover that is seems impossible to please everyone. This is certainly true, especially when those people all have wildly different expectations. There are ways to navigate this potential minefield, such as:
• Ask participants for feedback and suggestions on how to implement that – Sometimes people expect their meeting planning budget to go further. Show them the figures (if appropriate) and ask if they have any suggestions on how to do more with less. Be honest and do this without any emotional investment or hurt feelings for the best results.
• Always remind people of budget concerns – If participants wonder why the Starbucks coffee got replaced with a Cuisinart and some Folgers, just explain that resources are limited and ask for suggestions on further cuts or ways to do more with less.
• Anonymous tip box – Sometimes people are wary of leaving negative feedback, especially if their name is attached to it. Find a way to make an effectively anonymous method for providing feedback and chances are good that honest feedback will start flowing.
• Thank those with helpful hints and tips – Anyone that does take the time to provide tips should be heartily thanked. Anyone that has to swallow their pride and admit that their gripes were unfounded should be similarly comforted.
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Planning meetings can be fun, but it tends to be more fun whenever the meeting is someplace exotic or interesting. What is more interesting than a meeting on a cruise ship? Possibly a meeting on the International Space Station, but at around $20 million a ticket, it is probably better to go with meetings on exotic cruise ships bound for sun drenched destinations. Surprisingly, meetings at sea are not only more affordable than blasting off into low-orbit, but they are often more affordable than meetings held at hotels. Consider the following:
Hotels are forced to compete with many restaurants in terms of quality and offerings. Today’s cruise ships bring the restaurants and hotels with them, reducing the competition and overhead associated with advertising while simultaneously increasing the power buying authority of the vendor.
Safety is job number of all cruise ship employees, while job number two is ensuring that you and your business guests have a great time. This means you get more bang for your buck on a cruise ship than you would with a hotel in virtually any city.
Top quality business meeting rooms and chambers are available on cruise ships, big and small. Most cruise ships have rooms that can be easily converted from theaters to huge meeting rooms to dance floors with relative ease as well as standard meeting rooms. It does not matter how big or small your event is, a cruise ship is perfect!
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Meeting planning can take a long time, but it can also be streamlined with a little bit of practice. Here are a few tips for learning how to streamline meeting and/or event planning:
Mailing/SMS lists – If the participants are notified electronically, create lists. If certain people get left out of Monday meetings but not Tuesday meetings, then make two lists. Lists make sending notices both more reliable and much quicker. Some programs can also be used to track whether e-mails were opened or not.
Anticipate needs – Excellent meeting planners observe carefully what participants ask for at meetings and anticipate those needs recurring. If Mr. Jones from accounts receivable likes a coffee with two sugars and cream today, then chances are he will like it again next week. If Bob from sales likes an extra-soft chair cushion today, he will probably want one next week too.
Backup plans – It pays to remember that there is a heightened chance for things to go wrong when events or meetings are being held off-site. Having a backup plan makes recovering from an unforeseeable problem a lot easier. A few minutes preparing a backup plan can help save hours and save face.
Send reminders – Send reminders to participants, catering, and all other relevant parties just to ensure that everyone is on time and ready to perform their part when they are supposed to.
Use the Internet – book travel arrangements and source group cruise events entirely online to save time and money.
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As a meeting planner, it is essential for your customers to know that your services can be trusted. Many customers are wary of placing important details and information into the hands of a meeting planner. This is especially true if the customer is accustomed to taking charge of situations and being in control.
However, circumstances often arise in which planning a meeting becomes something beyond their control. That is when a customer will turn to a meeting planner for assistance. There are a few ways you can ensure your client has complete trust in you, and this trust will build repeat business.
Open communication is an important aspect of meeting planning. Customers should feel that they have a rapport with their meeting planner and should feel free to check the status of the upcoming event within reason. Communications with customers should be clear, focused, and concise.
Transparency will help put the customer at ease and provide them with a sense of much needed security. Meeting planners should remember that customers not only entrust their event to the meeting planner, but their financial resources as well. Once trust has been established between a meeting planner and customer, the customer is more likely to use their services again in the future.
For many years companies have planned group meetings and events in cities all across the country. While there are many destinations in the U.S. and abroad that are ideal locations for corporate events, employees and clientele may be less impressed with these venues than in times past. This is because there is a new frontier now being discovered by companies that truly want to impress. This new frontier is custom cruising, and it may be more affordable than companies think.
Group cruise planning, cruise event planning, and cruise meeting planning are the new wave in corporate events, getaways, and retreats. There are organizations available to assist event planners in designing the perfect custom cruise event or cruise meeting. Group cruise planning requires attention to many details and specifics, and these organizations can assist with this venture as well.
Custom cruises are often less expensive than land meetings because with an all inclusive cruise practically everything is included. Lodging, meeting spaces, food, entertainment, linens, florals, and superior customer service are part of a custom cruise package. In addition, employees and clientele will experience breathtaking destinations and exotic ports of call. All of these features creates an atmosphere more conducive to building camaraderie and building solid relationships among those within or associated with the company.
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Did you know that 90% of meeting planners polled state that their budgets are smaller due to the over-all economic slump? What’s more, over one third of planners predict they will book fewer meetings due to public opinion. In 2009, the PCMA/AMEX/Ypartnership sent surveys to professional meeting planners in order to gauge the effect of economic conditions and media feedback on meeting planning in 2010. The survey covered a number of topics including:
• How many meetings were hosted in 2009? How many are planned for 2010?
• Geographically speaking, where are meetings held?
• How much impact does the economic downturn have on meetings planned for the future?
• Does the media have an impact on how and if meetings are scheduled?
The outcome of this survey will not surprise most meeting planners. The economic crunch has and will continue to affect the number and type of meetings scheduled for the upcoming year. Negative media attention is a factor in the decrease of meetings. Bad press has the biggest negative impact on the largest meetings. Luxury and upscale accommodations are things of the past, at least for the moment.
Meeting planners as a group must point out that face to face meetings are an important part of industry interaction and curtailing these activities has a negative effect on companies. Reinstating corporate and government meeting can have a positive impact on U.S. economy and on personnel morale.
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If you are a self-employed meeting planner, you may be dreaming of the day when you will have so many clients that you will have to expand, or you might be dreading it. Either way, there will likely come a time when you no longer want to work seven days a week, 16 hours a day, or when you simply cannot finish all of your work, regardless of the hours that you put in. Of course, you may also start thinking about expanding before this, but it can be difficult to determine the right time for adding an employee to your meeting planning business.
Part of the problem is that you first need to have enough clients and enough money coming in to justify – and to cover – the additional expenses associated with having an employee. However, in true catch-22 fashion, in order to take on more clients or plan more events for your existing clients, you need more help.
Here are three steps you can take towards comfortably taking on a full-time employee:
1. Start by outsourcing – Yes, outsourcing is going to cost you a bit more than if you simply did everything yourself, but it will also allow you to free up some of your time, which can then be dedicated to increasing your client base.
2. Hire a part-time employee – Once your outsourcing has allowed you to begin to bring in more money and take on a few new clients, it may be time to hire a part-time employee.
3. Move her up to full-time, or hire a second part-timer – Once step 2 begins to pay off, it is time to re-evaluate and consider making your current part-time employee a full-time staff member, or taking on more part-time help.
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