Knowledge Does NOT Equal Understanding!
When I started my career in event management, it was a regular occurrence to have folks respond to what I did with keen interest and enthusiastically say, 'That sounds like such fun! You must love it! I'd love to do that!' They were right, I did love my work. Interestingly, it still happens today even though my role has changed in the event process. The conversation that followed seemed to always have me explaining (perhaps defending) the skill, expertise and necessity to observe the minutia of detail that was required to execute a flawless event. By then...they weren't listening any more as they had it all figured out.
Thing is, I've done the same: presumed I knew how to do something simply because I could systematically imagine the steps to do it and believe (uncontested), I could do it.
The other day I came across a video that nailed it for me on how we 'think we can do something because we think we know how to do it'. It was a YouTube Nirvana moment!
The Skinny: A smart and cool science dad engineer, Destin Sandlin
, was challenged by his team to ride a backwards bicycle. Everything was the same with this bicycle except
the front wheel would turn the opposite direction to the handle bars. What started out as a joke has now turned into a very powerful keynote message that Destin delivers around the world. Spoiler Alert: He could not ride the bike to his surprise and frustration. He then spent the next six months 'every day' teaching himself until finally - he got it. Turns out it is not as easy as 'riding a bike'.
In his keynote presentations, Destin challenges folks to ride the bicycle across the stage - even just twenty feet. The facial expressions on the challengers and the audience reactions are classic. Here is the video
What I loved so much about the video is that it reminded me of how I had early on in my career minimized the efforts it took to produce a well-balanced hotel contract. The compilation of '101 Things To Consider When Negotiating A Conference Contract' began to write itself as my understanding deepened. Years later this 'list' has become a living document that continues to morph to the current conditions - which are always changing!
In New York City last fall, what I knew for sure was I was not going to ride a bike that I knew how
to ride in downtown Manhattan. Sometimes we do know better!
101 Tips: WHO You Need To Know!
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Frame The Scene:
We’ve been working with you for some time to find the ideal venue for your conference. You’ve narrowed it down to the perfect hotel, we balanced your contract, it is signed and countersigned and the process moves to the next phase. Your file moves from the 'sales department' to the 'banquet department'.
Here are the Top 5 Tips (and people) you need to know to have your conference execute flawlessly. Every hotel customizes their operations ever so slightly although essentially these roles and responsibilities are replicated from hotel to hotel, around the globe.
- Sales and Catering Coordinator: This is likely going to be your new main point of contact at the hotel – this person works closely with the sales managers and meeting planners to execute the actual event. The Coordinator will be the person you send all your information to. Here’s what they need from you: rooming lists by the deadline– this one is BIG, Billing information completed in full and if you have a special meal request to have it with the food order. Preferences are always available IF you order them in advance.
- Guest Services Manager – This is the person who is in charge of your guest’s first impression. They will work with their team to check your guests in, hand out packages and offer services.
- Banquet Captain/Head of Food & Beverage – This team member is going to be on the floor having a watchful eye on getting that hot dinner out to your 500 guests on time and seamless. They are the conductor of the orchestra of servers working on getting your guests fed and feeling refreshed all day and evening. This person will help you with special meals, last minute requests and be the general 'go to' person on the floor.
- Reservations Manager – This is the holder of the guestrooms inventory. Your rooming list was sent in on time with the billing instructions clearly marked to the Coordinator. It’s now handed to this team member who will expertly arrange your guests into rooms like a game of chess. VIP for the CEO – check. Two colleagues are sharing – double beds, check... etc. The Reservations Manager knows what is available and where it is at all times. Good person to know especially with last minute room requests!
- Accounting Manager – Ahhh the bean counters. This person not only takes care of your invoice once all the badges are turned in but will also break it all down for each guest, make sure each guestroom is charged as per the billing information you have provided. All those numbers have to align with the contract that we worked so hard on from the beginning.
Senior Sales Manager, Global Accounts