Engaging Meeting Planners on Meeting in Tacoma + Pierce County
I had the opportunity to attend Collinson Media's ?Collaborate Marketplace? in Denver, CO in June and found it to be the most beneficial conference I have attended since joining the Tacoma Regional CVB. Collaborate Marketplace is a reverse Tradeshow which means I had the opportunity to go around from planner-to-planner and meet with them one-on-one for six minutes to promote Tacoma + Pierce County as a meetings destination. Throughout the two days of appointments I had 26 total appointments. A couple of my appointments had more than one planner from their organization in the booth which gave me the chance to develop additional leads.

There were also two days of well organized educational sessions. There was one educational session I attended I feel is particularly beneficial to the Tacoma + Pierce County Tourism Community: ?Planners Are from Saturn, Suppliers Are from Venus.? This session focused on how to improve the planner-supplier relationship by identifying both sides? pet peeves about the other. Here are a few key takeaways from the session we can use to improve our relationships with our clients moving forward:

Planners? Pet Peeves with Suppliers:
? Cold Calling - planners are not receptive to cold calls from suppliers and view it as an intrusion into their daily tasks and find them to be a waste of time. Email is the preferred method of communication when initially reaching out for new business opportunities.
? Deadlines - planners are getting increasingly frustrated with suppliers missing deadlines on submitting proposals for their meetings + events. Planners prefer receiving incomplete proposals versus nothing and the earlier you can send them a proposal, the better your chances. Let them know there is additional information coming.
? Proposal Content - planners can easily receive 50-100 proposals from properties all over the country or world and do not have time to read through long proposals. Their primary concern at the beginning is the rate you can extend to them and that is all they are looking for at the beginning of the process. Make your initial proposal concise and do not overload it with menus, maps, diagrams, etc.
? Attention to Details - planners cite suppliers some times do not thoroughly read through their entire RFP. Make sure to read through the entire RFP and determine if your venue can hold the specific piece of business. If your venue is too small do not submit a proposal but ALWAYS respond to the planner with a nice note, there can always be future opportunities suited for your property!
? Transparency - be up front at the beginning of the conversation with all hidden/additional charges planners may experience when working with your property based on their meeting needs. Planners hate surprises and must be able to prepare accurate meetings budgets when presenting to management.
? RFP - Try to learn as much about the planner's meeting. Here are some key things to look for in an RFP and if they are not included, work to uncover:
  • The planner's goals + objectives for the meeting or event
  • Demographics- who will be attending the meeting or event
  • The planners top 3-5 priorities, in order of most important to least important
  • Deadline- by which date must the planner receive your proposal