Planners and suppliers tell all

Kelly Van Dyke presenting June 18 at the Suburban Collection Showplace

Kelly Van Dyke presenting June 18 at the Michigan Meetings Expo.

Kelly Van Dyke, CMP and I had the pleasure of delivering the highest rated education session at the Michigan Meetings Expo on June 18 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi. That session, “The Secret to Successful CSM/Planner Collaboration,” is based on an Event Garde Blog post of a similar name from earlier this year.

To kick off the session and to set the tone for further discussion and collaboration, we asked both suppliers and planners alike what they’re most grateful for in working with their counterparts on a major signature event. The responses, I think, are both representative and telling. And it goes to show that sometimes the devil is in the details.

Our suppliers responded as follows to the prompt “I’m grateful when…”:

  • Clients are loyal to [our property]
  • A planner is a great communicator
  • Agreements are returned promptly
  • We receive prompt payment
  • Our team receives positive feedback
  • We’re provided copies of program materials for reference
  • Event changes are communicated timely
  • Planners approach their work with forethought and organization
  • My clients take the time to communicate their needs to me and are thorough when planning their events
  • Planners return my calls and emails
  • Everything comes together and everyone is happy
  • A planner is specific and honest about his or her expectations and needs

Similarly, we asked planners to respond to the same “I’m grateful when…” prompt. Following is what they had to say:

  • Suppliers provide assistance before they’re asked
  • Venues provide all information up front
  • My conference is over and it has been successful
  • I don’t have to ask twice for something
  • My CSM is easy to get a hold of
  • My CSM thinks of things I may have forgotten
  • My CSM anticipates my next question
  • My CSM puts a lot detail on the BEOs
  • Contracts and BEOs are returned timely
  • The hotel representatives work with all of the changes our clients make and they do it with a smile
  • My CSM and I have a great working relationship
  • My CSM takes time to answer countless phone calls full of countless questions
  • Suppliers anticipate my needs and address anything that comes up in a very efficient manner
  • My contact is proactive in suggestions to make our event better
  • All details are wrapped up in advance – not within the last two weeks
  • My CSM knows our group’s needs and provides assistance
  • Suppliers work with me on the food and beverage so I can get the most for my money
  • My CSM responds to my email right away with a sense of urgency, even if it’s only to acknowledge he or she has received it and is working on it
  • I receive quick and courteous service
  • My CSM does not get upset when we have last-minute changes
  • My CSM jumps in/pitches in as though he or she is a part of our crew
  • My CSM says “Yes, we can do that!” without hesitation
  • My CSM takes the time to communicate clearly and completely
  • My event runs smoothly

At the conclusion of the session, we asked participants to consider the CSM/planner relationship and to reflect on their own experiences, particularly those moments that could use improvement moving forward. Following are just some of the insights shared during that brainstorming session (and which may hit close to home for you, as well):

  • Lack of balance of groups in-house and needs of upcoming events; overworked CSM
  • Not sharing characteristics of group history with CSM, who may be new and unfamiliar with your group
  • Communicating promises made by sales to CSM
  • CSM disappears during the conference
  • Last-minute BEOs
  • Lack of communication and inability to compromise
  • Poor response time
  • Introducing all staff onsite
  • Last-minute changes resulting in “It’s not in the contract” or “That’s an extra cost”
  • Contact has left and didn’t say goodbye
  • Lack of passion
  • Don’t know when to lurk and when to chat
  • CSM only checks in one time during the convention
  • Not meeting pre-established deadlines
  • CSM handling too many groups just prior to my event; no time for my group
  • Contract delay resulting in more addendums
  • Different quality of service after the first year
  • BEO changes not communicated to all staff or staff not reading/responding to last-minute changes

In planning your own events, what are you most grateful for and what hot-button challenges are you most looking forward to resolving with your planner or CSM in the months ahead? Tell us in the comments.

Also, stay tuned to the Event Garde Blog this month. Kristen Parker is tackling extreme association trends. Next week she’ll have a post from Jeff De Cagna you won’t want to miss. And we have a few other surprises up our sleeves, as well. Until then, please have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend.

2 Responses to “Planners and suppliers tell all”

  1. 1 Kelly Van Dyke
    July 2, 2013 at 10:00 am

    Thank you for sharing this, Aaron! I find it ironic that the suppliers and planners are grateful for the same things such as timely communication and complete satisfaction. We all have the same goal for each and every conference, we just need to be on the same page with communication and expectations. What a wonderful topic to create conversation and ultimately make improvements to the Planner/CSM relationship. Thank you for this opportunity!

  2. July 2, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    It’s my pleasure, Kelly! And I, too, was surprised to see many of the same “joys” listed for both suppliers and planners. It does just go to show how we’re more similar than we are different.

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meet aaron

Association learning strategist & meetings coach. Founder & president of Event Garde. Passionate about cooking, running, blogging, old homes, unclehood & pet parenting (thanks to Lillie the pup).

meet kristen

Writer, editor, public relations professional. Digital content manager. Proud mom of three. Total word geek. Spartan for life.

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