What do meeting and event planners want from you?

June 28th, 2019 | hereschicago
Jim Grillo, CMP Chicago Certified Meeting Professional

Jim Grillo, CMP

What do meeting and event planners want?

I have worked alongside meeting and event planners for over 20 years and have multiple meeting and event planner friends and colleagues.  I have been in the hospitality industry all of my life since I was a kid bussing tables at my Uncles restaurant over the summers in northern Wisconsin.   From there I was a room service attendant, line cook, waiter, host, group sales manager for a large aquarium here in Chicago, a dinner theater General Manager and actor, a starter at a golf course and more.   I don’t really know how I picked up the hospitality “gene” but, I do remember being at a resort as a guest and received such awesome hospitality that I always strived to bring that hospitality experience to my job here in Chicago.  Or maybe it was that psychology class in college that helped me understand empathizing with people (ethos).

I have never wavered and try to be hospitable in daily life, personally and professionally. Not to toot my horn, however, I believe that it’s an innate trait in people which some would call the “X factor”.  I really believe it’s related to the unique experiences people have when & where they grew up.

Meeting and event planners work hard and are seeking individuals with in hospitality that have the “X factor” to make their lives easier.  They want suppliers to be a partner and they want unforgettable experiences (great ones, not bad ones LOL).  They want not just service, they want hospitality.  And, if you can help unload some of the work and “take it off their plate”, that’s a bonus and you could most likely have a planner for life!

So, let’s start with the definition of hospitality according to Wikipedia:  the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.  Description of Hospitality is: Friendliness, hospitableness, welcome, warm, reception, helpfulness, neighborliness, warmth, warm-heartedness, kindness, kind-ability, generosity, liberality, bountifulness, open-handedness.

From a meeting and event planner perspective, you have received hospitality countless times.

Hospitality is the thing that buffers your stress, boredom, or exhaustion and treats us with enjoyment and relaxation. It gives us an experience that replaces other emotions from the day. We’re willing to pay for it, and we’re only satisfied if our expectations are met with the service we receive. In a transactional sense, it’s the relationship between the planner and the supplier (in a restaurant, this is the venue and its entire staff, not just whoever is working the host stand). In order for hospitality to be good, as a planner, you have to feel comfortable and well-served.

Service is not hospitality.  Unforgettable service is hospitality.  Service is the act of handling a task. It is the intangible good that certain industries provide, including the hotel industry. … Guests are not only expecting better tangible accommodations, they are expecting the intangible experience to be unforgettable—service taken to the next level. This is hospitality.

In a hospitality setting, the guest (meeting and event planner and their client) exists to be served; the supplier exists to serve. A suppler succeeds when he or she makes a guest feel comfortable and catered to. It’s delivering this experience that brings planners back and drives repeat revenue. Here’s what this power balance means: It’s not your planner’s obligation to remember a restaurant or hotel. It is the venue’s obligation to remember the planner without fault and to deliver service that makes them never forget you.

What does hospitality mean to you? For me, let’s talk restaurants. I’ve had good food and great service taken to the next level.  I’ve also had great food but service was lacking.  I will always opt for have good food and great service taken to the next level.  And, the cherry on top is that it’s consistent service by several personnel on 3 separate visits to the same restaurant.  Chalk it up to management at the Italian restaurant downtown that I am referring to.  More visits from me to come, more check ins & positive posts with pics on social media.  Hospitality can increase your sales and it can also increase tips for employees that rely on them.  For the meeting and event planner, they want and expect great unforgettable service for their groups.  It’s their butts on the line if it is not provided.  If provided, you will have a planner for life!

Lastly, some of you are shaking your heads “yes’ while reading this.  It all comes natural to you as a supplier.  Same with you, the meeting planner.  I really hope that we all have awesome unforgettable outstanding hospitality experience in the future.  Here’s to 2019 and beyond.

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