What Is In Your Tool Kit?
There can be little doubt that firefighters, police officers and airline pilots are ranked among the highest-stress professions. However, did you know that event coordinators and meeting planners also consistently appear among the annual Top Ten Most Stressful Jobs?
For more than a decade, event management and meeting planning was my career of choice. During that time, I had the opportunity to work with Harry Rosen (himself) and the Hugo Boss brand, and I mixed and mingled with Formula One race car drivers. A few years later, I coordinated my first big conference for a national association. It took place at the convention centre in Vancouver as well as three separate hotels. There were a lot of moving parts in that manifesto and thankfully it came together without any major misses.
Over the years, my onsite tool kit grew to include essentials such as: multiple pairs of shoes, aspirin, water, scissors, music for setup and tear-down, phone numbers for local eateries for the crew, directions to the business centre, a cheat sheet of all the venue team's names, extra copies of the itinerary (soft copy back-up) and a Swiss pocket knife to start. Oh and, I almost forgot to mention the duct tape! I’ll never forget hemming a keynote speaker’s pants backstage with duct tape. It was a lifesaver!
While all of these items were important, I learned that many of the critical ingredients to a successful event were much less tangible. These included an unfailing sense of humour, a huge amount of patience, a firm belief that everything would work out wonderfully and remarkable teamwork and synergy among everyone involved.
Thanks to the visible and less visible items in my tool kit I always tried to be prepared for the unexpected...such as when Don Cherry invited two thousand folks onto a stage that was designed for him and Ron MacLean! Talk about a stressful moment! I will admit my blood pressure rose several notches at the time, but looking back, it sure makes for a great story!
101 Tips: Onsite Forget-Me-Nots
During my years as a hotel sales manager, I have noticed a pattern in the items meeting planners often forget. We usually reviewed this list during the preconference or ensured that our team was prepared “just in case”. Here is a list of 'Forget-Me-Not' items and tips for your next onsite event:
1. The electricial kit – Extension cords (electrical, internet/Ethernet), power bar, back-up laptop cords and batteries, chargers, speakers or sound system and duct tape. These are the things I’ve noticed that are most often not ordered from AV. Pack them in your 'meeting kit' and even if you leave it in your hotel room or car, it will be there when you need it most.
2. Print it out – What happens if you have all of the electrical supplies you need but the PowerPoint projector or teleprompter fails? Always print it out in a hard copy of all presentations just in case. If you are concerned about wasting paper, print on scrap paper or ensure it is available on a phone or tablet.
3. The ‘fix it’ kit – Another great thing to have under the registration table or head table is a “Fix it” kit. This should include everything from office supplies to stain removers. That way you are prepared if your guest speaker spills coffee on themselves or they are missing that favorite pen.
4. The Day 1 ‘what if’ list – Call your venue ahead to check on things like parking for offsite attendees, food quantities, special allergy meals, etc. Sometimes these small items will make all the difference in the comfort of your guests. Many venues they will provide only what you have asked for in the event order. Others may think ahead for you but never assume it will be the case.
5. Comfort – Before anyone arrives, ideally on the day before, check with the hotel regarding room temperature and other events are happening. One of the biggest problems meeting rooms can have is regulating the temperature, especially in spring and fall, when it’s warmer or colder outside than expected. It can take a whole day to get a large room to the right temperature. You know your group’s comfort needs better than the hotel or venue, so make any requests for comfort ahead of time.
Do you have a favorite “Forget-Me-Not” tip for event planners? Send it to us and we’ll publish a selection in an upcoming newsletter.
Footnote: Wishing Lisa Sharman an amazing adventure @ Blue Mountain Collingwood. There will 'always' be a chair reserved at wwww.thehowesgroup.com for you!
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