Anyone in the meetings industry will tell you that it is an all-encompassing sort of deal. We may be quite good at what we do, but we also know that we rely on several other entities, many of which are out of our control, to make a meeting go off without a hitch. And well, let’s face it, a meeting going off without a hitch is a sort of fantasy. With this in mind, it is quite a bit less stressful to aim for as few hitches as possible and even better, hitches that only we, the planners, actually notice. Our wish for our attendees is that they be granted the illusion that all is going off exactly as planned.
As if there are not enough elements to mull over when meeting planning, the economy has brought in a whole new crop of considerations. One of which is the health of a city’s budget. If a city’s budgets has been cut considerably, the city may not support our goal of creating a comfortable feel for our meeting, much less keep our participants safe.
Think about how your participants will feel if they land in a rundown airport, and are then transported via taxi or car service along streets in desperate need of repair. The hotel or venue may be top notch, but if their first sense of the meeting is met with grit, they may not put a lot of confidence in the rest of the experience. In this case your participants will more than likely remain cocooned in the hotel/venue, and on some level this may be ideal – as you will have their full attention. But on another level this could be detrimental!
If a city’s budget has been cut to the point where safety personnel, emergency services and other officials are far and few between, it could directly affect the health and well-being of your participants; and this may be just too high a risk for all involved. Also consider the hotel or venue staff. If their city is failing them, how will this affect their level of service and morale?
Without a doubt, meeting planners are between a rock and hard place on this one. We all understand that the consequential income of our meeting may greatly aid a city in need of finances. At the same time, however, we have a responsibility to our participants while they are in our “hands.”
In the amazingly ever changing and challenging world of meeting planning, this is yet another element to be considered. But it is an important one. In the end, we must continually come to a balance that makes sense for our organization and our attendees.
Any and all comments are welcome. I would love to hear how you handle this challenge!