This article was originally written by Matt Alderton and posted on the Successful Meetings website.
Being a meeting planner is one of the most difficult jobs there is. Fortunately, the modern era is full of tools that can make your job easier. Before you can plan like a 21st-century planner, however, you've got to learn to think like one, according to meetings software company Social Tables, which recently published its list of "10 Ways to Think Like a Modern Meeting Planner":
10. Be a Hero
Says Social Tables: "There's no way to teach this, but through experience, the best modern planners will become better at thinking on their feet. Why does it always feel like the one thing you didn't have a backup plan for, is the only thing that goes awry? Hero planners can turn major disasters into little victories."
9. Make Events Green Again
Says Social Tables: "It's 2016, do your part and ask about green event programs or sustainable alternatives available at the venues you're working with. This can actually be a huge selling point for your event. Promote that fact that you've designed an event experience with sustainability in mind."
8. Never Stop Learning
Says Social Tables: "Invest in your learning. You spend all of your time bringing people together to celebrate, make connections, or to educate themselves. What are you doing about improving the quality of your events? Remember that learning happens outside of your comfort zone. Don't just fall back on what's worked in the past. Volunteer your time with an industry organization. Or sign up for events and trade shows that can make a difference for you."
7. Ask for Help
Says Social Tables: "It's time for a bit of a role reversal. You're accustomed to fulfilling as many requests from clients as possible. But, be sure that you're also asking your partners to go the extra mile for you. For example, ask your A/V providers to join the decision making process. Ask your partners join you on site visits, they might catch the details you'd typically overlook."
6. Find Properties You Trust and Grow Your Network
Says Social Tables: "The main reason planners spend so much time on site visits is that they don't always have venues or contacts they trust in a given city. You could continue spending your time vetting meeting spaces with your own eyes, but you'd be better served exploring new human connections that already have the answers you're looking for. Find a mentor you trust or serve as a mentee. In this industry connections are everything; don't shy away from asking for introductions."
5. List It and Love It
Says Social Tables: "If you're reading this you probably love to think in terms of checklists, bullet points, and action items.
But that might not be the case for everyone involved in the planning process. When delegating tasks, ask your team to rephrase what's being asked in the form of a list to ensure that absolutely nothing is being misunderstood."
4. Encourage Pictures
Says Social Tables: "How do you know that you've designed a memorable event? One way is to find out if attendees are sharing photos or using your event hashtag on social. Design your event in a way that encourages interaction on social media. For example, create a pop-up photo booth, or paste the Instagram logo throughout the venue as a call to action. When considering event design, remember that everything at your event is a backdrop for a photo."
3. Unleash Your Inner Anthropologist
Says Social Tables: "Managing events in cities across the country or across the globe means having an understanding for the culture and people in that city. Planning an event in LA? You better have an understanding for the traffic situation. Consider the nature and demographic makeup of the city your event is in, to avoid any serious oversights. When choosing a destination be conscious about the message it sends. Work with the CVB in the area to tie the culture of the community into the themes of your destination event."
2. Be Creative
Says Social Tables: "We put the time and effort into event design because experience matters. Stay creative by looking for inspiration outside of the events world. Lean on your creative partners like A/V providers, furniture suppliers, and designers that are responsible for the visual appeal of your event. Challenge them and be deliberate about every design detail."
1. Become Best Friends with Data
Says Social Tables: "Every decision you make can and should be backed by data. That means you need to identify ways to quantify and learn from your efforts as a planner. Start by experimenting with measuring NPS and implement surveys that go beyond opinions and anecdotes. Use quantifiable metrics to determine that the decisions you're making are having a real effect."