4 Tips for Making Your Meetings Thrive in Today's Economy

BusinesspeopleThe meetings and travel industry has taken some rough hits over the past months, most of which was undeserved (eliminating corporate travel to so-called lavish destinations like Las Vegas, for example). Regardless, meeting planners are undoubtedly struggling to stay positive these days.

Don't use the hardships as an excuse to sit on the sidelines. In all the research I've seen and all the professional thoughts I've read, it all comes down remaining competitive. It's a proven strategy that has worked throughout history.

During the recession in the early 80s, for example, the Harvard Business Review published an article stating, "Rather than wait for business to return to normal, top executives should cash in on the opportunity that the rival companies are creating for them. The company courageous enough to stay in the fight when everyone else is playing safe can bring about a dramatic change in market position."

What's your plan for staying in the fight? I came across some interesting tips offered by CFR & Associates regarding strategies to break through in this economy. Here are a few I find particularly useful for meeting planners:

Be passionate and excited about your business. Like Brian McGovern blogged last week, your clients and attendees expect enthusiasm. They want to be inspired to attend a meeting. A negative attitude certainly does not make for an exciting event.

Invest in your people/employees. This really speaks to organizations holding internal events. There has been so much negative press on recognition/incentive events that planners are scared to hold them, regardless of any budget concerns. That's no way to foster a company culture that can pull through tough times.

Remember Texas Roadhouse? They hosted a big recognition event in San Francisco for all their employees in early April. They know that an investment in your people yields great returns.

Be laser-focused on what you spend money on. If you aren't tracking your budget and implementing a meetings policy to manage your events efficiently, it's no wonder you are hesitant about your future success. If you don't know your meetings spend, you can't identify areas for cost savings, nor can you prove the ROI of your meetings to executives, stakeholders, and yourself.

Be other-focused. When all is said and done, you can't have a meeting without attendees. It's easy to get caught up in hotel negotiations, venue sourcing, and food and beverage selection, but don't forget this critical element!

Just like you, attendees are struggling. Make it easy for them to justify registering for your event. You can do this by listening to them and providing session content and networking opportunities of value. Work with their needs by offering volume discounts or session-only registration options.

What are your best tips for not just making it through, but actually succeeding, in today's market?

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