What Does it Take to Become a Successful Meeting Planner?
Ten personality traits that serve meeting planners well
If you’re interested in becoming a successful meeting planner, welcome to a career that is fast-paced, exciting, challenging and rewarding. But it’s also a career that is not for the faint of heart. Take it from me … I’ve been in the meeting planning industry for more than 25 years and have learned a number of valuable lessons the hard way.
Our team at Agenda: USA – an accredited Destination Management Company (DMC) — is comprised of meeting industry professionals with a combined 100-plus years of experience in meeting planning, event production, ground transportation and group logistics. Here are some of the most important personality traits we believe are required to become a successful meeting planner:
1. Attention to detail
This may be the number one requirement of a successful meeting planner. You must be extremely detail oriented to make it in this profession. When you’re responsible for a corporate event for hundreds of people, missing one small detail can turn what could have been a smashing success into a dismal failure. For example, forgetting to do a soundcheck before a keynote speaker steps up the microphone to kick off your event can put a damper on the entire day, should the sound system not work properly.
2. Extreme organizational skills
To keep track of the details as noted above, you need to be extremely well organized. If you’re someone who is constantly losing your keys, can’t remember where you’ve put your cell phone or regularly forgets to feed the dog, you might rethink your professional choice. But if you live and die by your daily planner or To Do list, and you are tenacious about following up on “loose ends,” you could do well in this industry.
3. Creative mindset
As a professional meeting planner, your clients will not only expect you to come up with clever ways to entertain their constituents, they’ll rely on you to find the appropriate venue, select the décor, choose an interesting menu and ensure everyone has a memorable time. At Agenda: USA we’ve executed programs that include recreating a speak-easy atmosphere with talented jazz musicians in period clothing; we’ve created unique team-building events for corporate clients with hundreds of employees; and for client Harley Davidson we even created a rockin’ outdoor party for 30,000 motorcycle fans. Every event you produce must have a unique and creative flair, so a creative mindset is crucial.
4. Collaborative approach
A successful meeting planner never works solo. Executing a successful event requires bringing together multiple vendors and service providers. You’ll need to interact with venue managers, caterers, florists, entertainers, audio-visual providers – including photographers and videographers – and many more industry professionals. So, getting to know the best service providers – then developing a collaborative working relationship with them – will be critical to achieving professional success.
5. High energy level
Unless you have a high energy level, you might rethink the idea of becoming a professional meeting planner. On the day of a client event, you will likely need to work from sunrise to sunset as you put every important element into place. Then expect to remain onsite throughout the event to ensure there are no last-minute hiccups. Plus, over the course of the event you’ll be keeping an eye on all facets of it to ensure all the various vendors you selected are doing their jobs … and that your client is happy with the result.
6. The ability to work extended hours
Do you have the flexibility to work crazy hours when needed? If not, a meeting planning career may not be for you. With many events taking place evenings and weekends, professional meeting planners can expect to manage the set-up as well as the tear-down for the event, keeping you occupied during what is often considered “family time.” So, plan in advance for how to handle any conflicting activities for your children or spouse, as competing demands for your time are likely to occur.
7. Experience in the industry
If you’ve had experience working for a hotel, restaurant, convention & visitor’s bureau or other business in the hospitality industry, that experience will serve you well should you strive to become a successful meeting planner. Not only will it give you valuable skills to build on, but professionals in the meeting planning industry will become a valuable network of industry professionals that you will likely tap throughout your entire career. I’ve known many of my meeting planning and DMC colleagues for many years, and those connections have proven to be extremely helpful at different times in my career.
8. You are customer service oriented
Do you respond promptly to client calls or emails? If not, you better rethink your career choice. Being responsive to your clients’ needs is practically mandatory for a successful meeting planner. And not only will a prompt response be well received by your clients, it will help you stay on top of each event you orchestrate. Clients will often weigh in on their event’s plans throughout the planning process, so responding quickly – and with a positive “can-do” attitude – will result in satisfied clients who will sing your praises.
9. You value your reputation
For all of us – whether you’re in the hospitality industry or not – our reputations mean everything. If you don’t value having a positive reputation, don’t expect a successful career in any industry. Given the number of people event planners interact with, establishing a respected reputation will go a long way throughout your life. Not only will it lead to career success, it will also lead to a much happier, satisfied life knowing that your honesty, integrity and approach to doing business has enriched others and created a broad network of industry friends and colleagues.
10. The ability to pivot when necessary
Being able to handle last minute changes and – and occasionally a mini-crisis – will become a valuable skill you’ll rely on throughout your career. Given the many facets of an event, and the broad number of vendors and service providers you rely on (but can’t control), you can be certain that at some point you’ll face a significant challenge or technical issue. The ability to pivot as needed, and to figure out a work-around, will be extremely important to your goal to become a successful meeting planner. So don’t think of the next mini-crisis as something you can’t overcome. Think about it as a valuable learning experience.
If you’re more determined than ever to become a successful meeting planner – and if these 10 personality traits strike a chord with you – consider reaching out to our Agenda: USA team. We’re always interested in speaking with candidates who have a passion for the hospitality industry, a can-do approach to serving clients and a willingness to work hard. Visit our Careers page or give us a call at 913. 268.4466.