#CventCONNECT Recap: Planner Panel Session

Unforgettable events are created through a series of smart decisions by an event planner. Hoteliers alike were treated to tips from four top-notch planners during Cvent CONNECT 2017’s breakout session, “From the Planners: Client Success Stories.”

Ashley Stewart, the session’s moderator, former planner, and now executive event producer, led the panelists’ in-depth discussion on their event needs, desires, and most sage advice.

Treat Your Planners Well

Planning is at the heart of every successful event—and RFPs and site visits are the foundation. Rachel Nedelman of SANS shared these critical rules for RFP management and effective planning. (And she should know, she plans over 60 events a year for SANS.)

  • Be complete. Answer questions thoroughly. Being transparent, providing details, and communicating what’s truly negotiable goes a long way in having your response make it to the top of the pile. Full-disclosure at the outset beats a negative surprise during the event every time.
  • Be timely. Waiting until the last minute to respond or submitting your RFP response late is a definite no-no. Be thoughtful, involve Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs), and make sure you’ve put your best foot forward with both the RFP and the site visit.
  • Be interested. Let them know you want the business. Include your venue’s wow factors, think about how you can help make their event memorable at your location, and convince them you’re willing to earn the business.

 Promote Your Positives

The panel turned next to sharing event stories—for both large galas and smaller conferences. Christina DeVore, planner for Extra Storage Space, revealed a clever suggestion from a sales director that improved the flow of a series of complicated transitions. By recommending banquet tables on wheels, all the activities flowed seamlessly. It’s these type of extra details and problem solving that planners look for and get your venue and hospitality staff noticed. Over 90% of planners return to venues where they’ve had positive experiences like these.

Over 90% of planners return to venues where they’ve had positive experiences.

Demonstrate Value

Once the event is over, it doesn’t mean the planner’s work is done. Post-event follow up is an indispensable component of the entire event process. Melissa McGowen, a planner with Allegis Group and Cvent guru, discussed how she uses the Cvent Event Management Platform from meeting request through budget completion. She stressed the value of having accurate invoices from hoteliers that meet billing requirements for each category. Having comprehensive information, including rack rates and group rates, enables meeting planners to demonstrate their value in negotiated savings, which is an important element in meeting evaluation. This benefits hotels in two ways: invoices that match billing requirements can be reviewed and approved quickly, expediting payments to the venue. In addition, planners know who they can count on for negotiations and concessions for future business.

How do we boil this down? Planners look great when their events are not just successful, but also truly unforgettable. Hospitality staff are the key, and thinking ahead for planners makes their venue shine. The panel concluded with their parting advice to hoteliers: pay attention to the details, ask questions to understand their needs, and always communicate!


Written by Cvent Guest