Dear Bright-Eyed, Enthusiastic Self:
It’s official. You’ve just landed a great gig as a meeting planner. Your first. Congratulations. You’re going to learn a lot. And a lot of it won’t come from the classes you took, despite the degree in marketing or the certificate you earned in meeting and event planning.
What I’m going to tell you now, and what I wish I’d known then, is that you don’t have to spend so much time trying to attract all the right attendees, max the room’s capacity and drive conversations on social media. You can get the same results, or better, with a few shortcuts.
How to avoid late nights and 2 a.m. panic
It turns out that all those lists, spreadsheets and sticky notes were the reason you woke up at 2 a.m. remembering a last-minute to-do or worrying that you might have overlooked a to-do or two. You could have avoided all that stress if you opted for an all-in-one dashboard. The kind that manages the entire event process including creating invitations, sending emails, tracking registrations and payments, and generating reports for your boss.
Another thing: I know the sight of all those people in the registration line was exciting, but they were less than thrilled about having to wait. Now you know that mobile registration lets them zip through the check-in process and dive right into networking with colleagues. And it turned out to be a lifesaver when you needed to let attendees know about last-minute schedule changes. Who could have predicted that your second-day keynote speaker would have a seven-hour flight delay?
Along those lines, take a few minutes now to download these free apps to your phone: Hootsuite to manage social media conversations about your event, and Facebook’s “Pages Manager” to manage your Facebook event page activity, respond to attendees and get insights.
Those emails, surveys would’ve been more effective if …
Don’t get discouraged when you discover that only a few people are clicking on your email. Look deeper into those email activity reports. You’ll see that the content that really engaged attendees was focused on helpful hints, useful information and valuable insights they couldn’t easily get elsewhere. It was that type of content that boosted subscribers and got the word out on social media while all those promo-laden messages fell on deaf ears.
Speaking of email content, you were smart enough to repurpose it on social media channels. Good job. Just remember to freshen up the text because you have a lot of overlap in email subscribers and social media followers, and nobody wants to read the same message twice.
Something else: You’re going to spend more than a few long nights in the office trying to make sense of survey results. Hint: You’ll get more insightful responses if you limit the number of questions, simplify the language and limit the number of ranking options. BTW, in your day and age, I can’t believe you’re still not doing those surveys electronically.
Lastly, remember to breathe. Yes, you’re going to have stressful days (and nights) on the job, but I promise that you’ll save a lot of time as soon as you start using those shortcuts and follow this advice. Trust me; you’ll thank yourself later.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known as a new planner? Please share in the comment box below.