For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
For “want of a nail” sales meeting planners, can lose their kingdom. You have arranged accommodations for 2000, scheduled inspiring speakers, booked great entertainment, fed throngs of revelers, put together a mixed doubles golf tournament, and transported the multitude to and from without a hitch. The hotel manager, however, has recently changed broadband providers and the Wi-Fi signal is weak, hard to access, and no longer free to hotel guests. You, of course, never thought to ask. During the conference you hear about nothing else from the attendees except, “What’s with the Wi-Fi in this place? I can’t get anything done! Do something!”
The Achilles heel for all meeting planners is the unimagined details. Little things that you cannot foresee shift in a changing world, and your annual conference is remembered not for the beautiful hotel, the exotic food, or the inspiring speakers, but for the monsoonal deluge that soaked everyone on the way to the airport. Corporate meeting planners are selling an intangible product; a service that the customer can evaluate only after he has already received it.
“The most important thing to know about intangible products is that the customers usually don’t know what they’re getting until they don’t get it. Only then do they become aware of what they bargained for; only on dissatisfaction do they dwell. Satisfaction is, as it should be, mute. Its existence is affirmed only by its absence.” (Marketing intangible products and product intangibles, Theodore Levitt, Harvard Business Review, No. 81306)
How can you avoid developing nervous tics and migraine headaches every year as your company’s conference nears kickoff?
Here are some tips from professional meeting planners who have been in your jittery shoes.
- In your literature and discussions about your upcoming conference focus on the positives, like the exotic hotel you’re going to this year or the world famous keynote speaker who has agreed to attend. Big positives distract from the inevitable negative details that seem to grab people’s attention.
- Never make excuses.
- Always offer solutions with a smile.
- Like a great General, keep your strategic objective uppermost in your mind and do not get lost in tactical details.
- Surround yourself with great lieutenants, like professional meeting planners, who thrive on detail.
- Confidence overcomes criticism. Be proud of the skills you’ve developed in rising to your position in the company and remember that no one else wants to, or can, do your job.
If you can adopt the attitudes listed above, the meeting, conference or training you are arranging right now is going to be your best because you will be excited about the possibilities rather than anxious about the unknown.