Although they plan meetings, "meeting planners" aren't always meeting planners. Often, they're something else entirely, according to Northstar Meetings Group contributor Agatha Bordonaro.
"An estimated four out of every five corporate meetings are organized by a project manager rather than a dedicated meeting professional," reports Bordonaro, who says administrative assistants also are dabbling more and more in meeting planning. "More than 70 percent of administrative assistants now have the responsibility for planning corporate meetings and events."
So-called "part-time meeting planners" often are at a disadvantage in the marketplace, according to Bordonaro. "As a part-time planner, you may not be working regularly with hotels, suppliers and even fellow planners. Without that frequent contact, especially the face-to-face interaction, part-timers might not be getting … the same discounts that come with a closer relationship," she explains.
Part-time planners can still get a bargain, however -- even with less traditional bargaining power.
One way to unlock better deals as a part-time planner, for instance, is to conduct the same types of in-depth site visits that full-time planners conduct. "I think that personal touch is something that transfers, maybe unspoken, to the sales managers," former part-time planner Donald Duszynski, a regional manager for Meeting Professionals Expectations, tells Bordonaro. "Maybe they think, 'Hey, this guy really cares. I'm going to give him a good deal for his group.'"
People who can't be present physically can unlock better deals by being flexible, according to Ginny Kent, marketing specialist for the Ocean Center Daytona Beach convention complex in Daytona Beach, Fla.
"If a planner has the flexibility to change the dates of their shows, conferences and meetings, they should pick dates that are off-season for the facility they are interested in," she tells Bordonaro. "Many centers offer incentives to meet certain times of the year … For the Ocean Center's off-season, September through December, we offer bonuses like a refreshment break, complimentary Wi-Fi, complimentary move-in or move-out, or a 15 percent catering discount."
Questions, Comments, Suggestions?
Contact Successful Meetings Editor in Chief Vincent Alonzo with your "How To" ideas.