We’ve all been there. The mailroom’s second cousin’s best friend’s niece wants to become a meeting planner and wants to treat you to lunch and ask for your advice. They show up with stars in their eyes; gleaming over the glamour of it all. They tell you about the great baby shower they put together, their friend’s amazing wedding and Dad’s Holiday office party (the one everyone raved about!). And it’s not that you want to squash their dreams (we were once innocent, starry-eyed meeting planner wanna-be’s too), but you have to gage just how realistic of a picture to paint?
For example, do you reveal your amazing ability to upload a cheery disposition at any given moment; even though you were up until 1am escorting over-imbibing guests back to their rooms, only to be back up at 5am to organize the check-in desk for the next day’s round of events? Do you reveal that you have spent hours on end doing mind-numbing activities like stuffing kitschy giveaways, literature and mounds of frilly tissue paper in pretty pink bags? Do you reveal that you have at times had no choice but to hire a VP’s sister’s catering company; the one who thinks that mini-pigs-in-blanket is the bees knees? Do you explain the challenges of always looking pressed and fresh in a white button down shirt, even though you have had to haul boxes (where is that darn dolly!) from the loading dock to a meeting room located 1.3 miles away? Do you talk about the number of hands you have held over the years due to a speaker’s flight cancellation, a flooded hotel room or the manager’s meeting that ended up in a law suit due to a combination of jet ski, pontoon boat and chocolatini’s?
Yes, you do reveal these truths. It is how you can aptly test the fortitude of this person and see if they can face the challenges of this business. If they leave the lunch horrified and in practically running out the door, then you have helped them to seek a different path. But if they leave entertained and excited about the challenges, pat them on the back and grant them luck in their mission to become a meeting planner.
One more thing. Do you reveal to them how they will, without a degree in law, be tasked to pour over hotel contracts, possibly write their own custom addendums, and actually understand the heady legalese? Naw, silly! No need to. Just have them call me – not only can I add great value to their meetings by providing stellar site selection, I am also a well seasoned and well versed hotel contract reviewer and negotiator. That part they can leave up to me, just make sure to suggest they give me a call. Thank you! Jill Stone, 636-797-3405.