303 Meetings Podcast How To Keep Attendees Happy, Working With Vendors, Get Them On Their Feet
I was on a webinar for MeetingsNet talking about Pricing for meetings and events. My portion was about A/V and production pricing.
Moderator Barbara Scofidio, Editor, MeetingsNet
Scott Eames, Global Sales Director, AlliedPRA
Brian R. Meyer, President, Meeting Expectations
Mike McAllen, Co-founder, AVforPlanners.com
The Q & A period was really lively and it was great to see all the faces I knew as virtual attendees. It also made me realize how audiovisual and the pricing is a pain point for planners and organizers. I am going to start a series of webinars with AVforPlanners to start to help organizers save time and money when renting or contracting AV and labor.
What is your favorite webinar platform? Webex, on24 (which we used) gotomeeting? Love to get some feedback here or on twitter what your favorite platform is- or easiest of use…
Finally, I wanted to also say we had our best month ever in May with several thousand downloads of our little podcast so thank you for listening and please email me with anything you want to hear or be included in the podcast. Please email me at Mike(@)GrassShackRoad.com
1) Dana Freker Doody Going to the Chapel from The Expo Group
Dana talks about Marrying your Education and Exhibition experiences can create a long, fruitful symbiosis to engage attendees. Some smart planners in corporations and associations are creating content on their show floor that directly brings in their conference speakers, further bridging the mental gap that often can exist between conference and exhibition.
Dana added these helpful links:
Community Connections & Hybrid Events
New Ways to Engage Adult Learners
#ExpoChat on Twitter, where education on show floor is a frequent topic
3) Adrian Segar Get Them On Their Feet! Conferences that Work
Today’s show title is Get Them On Their Feet, where he’ll share a simple technique for bringing your audience back into optimal condition for learning.
Thank you to our segment producers on the show:
Dana Freker Doody, The Expo Group, Vice President of Corporate Communications
Dana oversees all communication materials for in-ho use and client-side programs plus takes an active role in the innovative processes resulting in the creation of strategic and personalized experiential solutions. She is active in social media networks and has developed personalized solutions for several clients to take advantage of the impact of digital tools on trade shows in particular. Dana is a 13-year veteran of The Expo Group, a general services contractor and exhibit house, and the industry, to which she brings a strong service background from her days at Disneyland and a communications background forged in the newspaper industry. Her bachelor of arts
degrees in journalism and in history were earned at Southern Methodist University. Mom to a10-year-old sports nut, Dana enjoys cheering at whatever is in season and supporting charities in her local community. Dana is often heard speaking at industry conferences and meetings and otherwise questioning the status quo in our industry.
Email: ddoody at theexpogroup.com
PAT Ahaesy, CMP. CSEP, helps companies have seamless and stress free events. She has over 25 years of experience planning and implementing corporate and non-profit conferences and special events, as well as incentive programs. The background that led to her collaboration in P&V began first as an educator, then in the world of corporate and incentive travel. Pat has planned CME meetings, conferences, trade shows, special events as well as tours for art and incentive groups.
She has been a Certified Meeting Professional from the Convention Industry Council for more than 10 years, and has held the Certified Special Event Professional designation from the International Special Events Society for 10 years.
Pat holds a BS in Education from Temple University and taught elementary school, tutored students with dyslexia and has taught ESL for the US Air Force.
Often quoted in industry professional publication, she is a co-moderator of the leading online community, MECO, for meeting professionals. She was also President of the National Association of Business Owners-NYC from 2009-2011. Pat was named Women in Business Champion by the Northeast Region of the SBA.
A believer, in the importance of education, Pat feels that events are a powerful tool to tell a story and to educate. The value of meetings and special events should not be underestimated. After attending several Event Camps, Pat realized that webcasting and hybrid events are the logical next step to extend the reach of meetings and events.
Since August, 2013, Pat has been an instructor at the online special Events Institute.
Pat’s company, P&V Enterprises is headquartered in New York City.
The website is www.pnventerprises.com.
Tweets by pnv123
Tweets by pnventerprises
3) Adrian Segar Conferences that Work
Adrian is a meeting architect, facilitator, and author who has been running conferences for over thirty years. He loves to facilitate learning and connections between people and is the author of Conferences That Work: Creating Events That People Love. Adrian writes about many different aspects of meetings on his popular blog: Conferences That Work. Learn more by visiting www.conferencesthatwork.com and following @ASegar on Twitter.
Our awesome sponsors –
IMEX America Coming up in October. Will you be there? I will!
AVforPlanners.com – easy way to find av companies and evaluate proposals from them to save time and money.
You can find Mike McAllen at my meetings and video production Company Grass Shack Events & Media or at AVforPlanners.com with my pal Jon Trask Take a picture of yourself and post to Instagram. Tag it #meetingspodcast I would love to see where you are listening to the show. Follow me there. Mike McAllen
Mike: Hello and welcome to this episode of the Meetings Podcast my name is Mike McAllen and I want to welcome our new listeners and thank you for joining us for this episode, this of course extends out there to all you listeners that have been listening forever and the new ones, welcome and thank you for being here. This podcast is for the meetings and event’s organizers who want to produce engaging programs for their attendees plus empower our organizers with new tips and resources to take their careers to the next level. You can find links and transcripts on the meetings podcast website.
So I wanted to start out right away with a little bit about my desk beside the moth that is trying to attack me right now I have my studio in my office where my Mic swings around out of the way when I am not recording and above that above my desk is a picture of my father with a head shot because he was an actor, he was an actor on the side and one of the greatest guys ever in the history of guys! Really, really funny guy and always impressed me that is why I have him up there.
Unfortunately he died about 14 years ago and I miss him a lot but it is great impression to have him up there, next to him is a picture I bought in Berkley California for photographer show and it shows a man with a huge bundle of badges on his shoulders, it is really huge and he has a great smile on his face and it is just kind of captivating pictures and I like to look at it because I want to sit here or walk in thinking how that guy is happy with big bundle stuff on his shoulders. And that made me kind of think about right down beneath it there is a little quote with the smiling man with the bundle it is an old man it says “I slept and dreamt that life was joy, I woke and discovered that life was but service. I served and discovered that service was joy”.
Which then made me think about our business the events and meetings and that it is a service what we do, we provide a service and we bring joy to people, we make companies successful, we launch products, we put on weddings, we do events, we do award shows, we do incentive programs, we do all these stuff and we really do bring joy to the world. So keep that in mind it really was an eye opener for me.
I was on a webinar last week for meetings net talking about pricing for meetings and events my portion was all about AV, Barbara Scofidio who is editor at meetings net you probably know her from segments here on the podcast was the moderator, the presenters were Scott Eames, he is a global sales director from LAPRA and Brian Meyer who is the President of meetings expectations and it was really fun. Really fun time, the Q&A period at the end was really lively and it was great to see all the faces I knew from people who were just attendees just from all the different events and things that I have been to. It also made me realize how AV and pricing is such a pain for planners and organizers there is a lot of questions that were coming back. Which gave me the idea of starting a series of webinars for planners to help them save time and money on rent in or contracting AV just have a different tactic from parts of the AV process of renting or contracting AV. I would love if you are listening and you want to help me if you would tweet me or email me or call me and tell me of your favorite webinar platform. I know there is Web X and on 24 which we use for the meetings net webinar and that worked really well, go to meetings is another one but I would love to get some feedback from you if you want to take a second and shoot me a tweet @mmcallen, just tell me which one you like.
Finally, I wanted also to say we have a best month ever last month, several thousand downloads of the podcasts so I wanted to thank you again for listening and please email me if you want to have anything to go on, on the podcast because I love getting feedback from the listeners it always is fun. If there is somebody you want to hear on the podcast or maybe you want to be on the podcast so send me a note.
Today’s show let’s get into it, we have 3 great segments the first one is called going to the chapel with our favorite Dana Freker Doodyfrom the Expo group, Dana is going to talk about marrying your education and exhibition experience and how it can create a long fruitful symbiosis to engaging attendees. Some of the mark planners, incorporation and associations are creating content on the show floor that directly brings in the conference because further bridging the mental gap that is often can exist between conference and exhibition, really looking forward to hearing that.
Second one is working with vendors with Pat Ahasey Pat again it is a really great little article about her and her husband about how they have been working together it is very cute and they are doing some great work.
And the 3rd segment is from Adrian Segar presenting B the Building, building exceptional events by involved learning, connection, engagement and community and today he is going to be talking about getting them on their feet where he will share a simple technique for bringing your audience back into optimal conditioning for learning and he is good at that. I saw him recently in Boston, we chatted for about an hour after this tweet up and he is a great guy, really smart guy, I really like Adrian listen in he has got some great things he helps with. So let’s get started and let’s get right into Dana, Dana, take it away…
Dana: Thanks Mike this is Dana Freker Doody of the Expo group I am here in Texas and it is spring time and you know what spring brings…lots of weddings! That is right everyone is going to the chapel. When you think about your event or your trade show and planning it a lot of times you come into a situation where your education and your exhibition are run by different people, they are attended perhaps by different people, they involve motivations for your attendees some come for the education, some come for the exhibition and all they can learn from it.
Really an ideal marriage in our business is to create educational opportunities within your exhibition right on your tradeshow floor, go ahead and marry your education and your exhibition, here is the benefits; you are going to attract more attendees to visit your exhibitors, you are going to entice them to stay longer within your exhibition, you are going to help show the educational value that your exhibitors bring to the table. A lot of them are offering higher education value either in talking about their products and services or they have a little education theater in your booth.
Regardless that education is everywhere and when you marry your education and your exhibition it can be a long and happy relationship. Some of the best associations are creating content on their show floor because they are bringing in their conference speakers further bridging that mental gap that can exist between conference and exhibition.
So what kind of wedding are you going to hold? The style and colors of your wedding isn’t as important as a format. Here is what you need to be thinking about when you bring education into the exhibition for that wedding, keep it short, don’t trap people in theatres for an hour, crowded theaters in the back of the hall where attendees can hide for hours at a time aren’t productive for creating an experience that attendees will remember. Nor do those help you to create movement and traffic flow throughout the hall which will benefit your exhibitors.
So I employ you to consider creating small spots with more casual seating where attendees can perch just for 10-15 minutes, they will learn something, indulge in that education, and maybe get a new idea that they can take back and tactfully impact their work and then move on and go shopping with your exhibitors.
Remember short learning experiences also give those adults who learn better with a short lecture than with a long 45 minutes lectures or with a long hour and half panels that we see a lot in our conference sessions, these types of short passive education give those adult learners the opportunity to more easily access the education that you are providing on their own pace. Lots of eugenics and millennial attendees like this type of education, they can come in take a quick bite of education and move along.
So really the key to effective education in the show floor-keep it short. The marriage of education and exhibitions can be long and fruitful, the key to your own marriage-I can’t help you there!
Pat: It takes a village, why bother with vendor relationships? This is the mindset of some meeting planners who feel that supplier conversations begins and ends with ‘pay to the order of’ however, building good relationships with your vendors can ensure that you receive the best possible service, quality, pricing, value and satisfaction for you and your attendees that is the foundation of the village. Relationships between meeting planners and vendors have become even more important due to the uncertainty in the economy and industry downturn following the events of 2001 and then the downturn in 2008.
Competition among vendors is more aggressive than it was in the past and suppliers have to work harder to get meeting business and even harder to keep it. The success of your meeting is partly contingent upon the work of the vendor and reflects back on their services; in essence your success is their success. Well selected with liable vendors with proven records of high performance certainly can help you succeed with the project but you in turn must put effort into building a solid working relationship with your vendors, a relationship that should involve beyond the simple services rendered and into a true business partnership.
The ideal partnership for both parties is long term through good and poor economic trends and is based on communication, trust and information sharing. Laying the foundation much like any other relationship vendor relationships are built upon trust, respect and communication, at the onset of any new vendor relationship both parties must clearly articulate themselves to arrive in a mutual understanding of one’s needs and results desired. From the start planners should give vendors all pertinent information that relates to the project. Allowing the vendor to understand your group and its goals both internal and external will provide insight into the specific project and possible future uses.
In the case of meetings you need to allow your vendor to become familiar with all of the events your company has planned throughout the year and to have reasonable access to all staff who will be involved in the project. Through communication with your staff vendors can gain a clearer understanding not only of what your company does but how it does it. The “what” can be absorbed fairly easily, knowledge of the “how” is less apparent and can be obtained only through vendor’s integration with in house staff.
While it is the vendor’s responsibility to become familiar with your needs and goals, the planner should reciprocate by understanding those of the vendor. Being familiar with the full range of your vendor services also is beneficial, for example a hotel representative who handles room and space bookings for your meeting may also be able to help you with your subsequent needs such as entertainment. It pays to know what else your vendor has and his/her hot sell. It pays to know being a model client just as you want a model vendor; vendors want model clients too often planners relegate their relationship with vendors to do working model which can exclude vendors from all communications save those where orders are given for the vendor to follow.
Time and time again vendors identify their most valuable clients as those who keep the lines of communication free and clear and provide them with timely information on decisions that will affect their services. In the best case scenario the vendor’s representative is involved in all discussion throughout the meeting that they are helping to produce. When the in house management team feels it is appropriate vendors often can make a valuable contribution to the decision making process when it involves their area of expertise. Joining the ranks of your model clients and your vendors VIP list isn’t as difficult as you might think, simple steps can build the relationship with your vendor making it easier to help you make the conference a success.
One of the more obvious but often not as common as vendors would like is the active returning of the representative’s phone call and email, better yet not only returning them but returning them sooner rather than later. It is understandable that as a meeting planner your schedules are already swamped but it is a very frustrating to a vendor if they can’t get in touch with you for an answer or a green light. Delaying replies, suppressing inquiries from vendor will hinder the product planning and possibly have a negative effect on the outcome.
Another behavior that can put you on a vendor’s A list is giving the vendor some latitude to exercise his/her own judgment and experience in providing your own services. After all you hire the vendor to do a specific task, something in which he/she excels, letting go of your anxiety and allowing vendors to do their thing requires trust, something that for some is hard to attain. Without trust though, you and your vendor both will be running in place rather than going forward.
Trusting your vendors, the selection of your vendors as a collaborator or an advocate of your needs is essentially a contract of trust considering that you have researched references, looked at work samples, and met with them several times before committing to a contract, you can assume with some confidence that the vendors you work with are professionals and the success of a contract can be multiplied when your vendors are treated as trusted advisors who provide insight on a project based on their expertise. Trusting vendor’s advice and judgment on what they know best-their business.
Open communication between your vendor’s representative and your association staff will lead to a dialogue which leads to the building of a relationship that allows you to consult with your vendor as a knowledgeable advisor. Vendors can rely on their previous experiences to guide you in making informed decisions that will strengthen your meeting or the value of whatever you purchase. The positive effects of treating vendors with respect for their knowledge will show in the work that they do for you. Like anyone else their motivation for excellence is increased when they feel they are treated with respect as equals rather than subordinates. Of course as the old adage goes trust and respect are earned, by the time you start actually working with your vendor though, your trust in them and theirs in you should already be well established through your preliminary meetings and reviews of the vendor’s previous work. The saying ‘a friend of a friend is a friend of mine’ also holds true in this case. Vendors who have worked successfully with and earned the trust of colleagues whom you respect are likely deserving of your trust as well. Smart planners look first to their colleagues for recommendations of successful vendors.
Marketing your meeting, the end goal of establishing a vendor relationship is the success of your current and future decisions. Marketing your meeting will not only help to boost attendance at the event but will give your vendors an incentive to do their very best. Vendors reap the benefits of your marketing efforts by being secondary products promoted like hotel location, show design and special events for example.
Supporting your vendors, when you and your vendor truly click then your relationship shouldn’t end with the completion of a contract. If a vendor made your meeting or event a success, then maintain your ties to draw upon that person’s experience and expertise in the future. One way to support your vendor after successful meeting or event is to tell your colleagues about them. Giving referrals is a great way to recognize the quality service provided by the vendor, word of mouth referrals are often more beneficial to a vendor’s new business strategy than any other method of emotion, why? Because your experience of their service is more credible than any marketing materials they might send out. Think of yourself as a spokesperson for the vendor’s services because you can attest to the quality of service and work they provide and have direct experience in working with them, you are qualified to speak on the vendor’s behalf to their benefit. Vendors often hold focus groups or advisory councils to evaluate their services and to better understand their customers’ wants and needs. As a customer of their services you can support your team by participating in these focus groups when asked. Your experience with the vendor services will provide important input to the group and your participation helps vendors improve their services and help you maintain your contact with them. Such mechanisms as focus groups provide necessary information to suppliers interested in improving their services particularly when those enlisted for feedback are frank and candid.
Giving thanks and recognition; giving thanks and recognition should be an obvious component to any vendor relationship, not only is it the professional and courteous thing to do but it also shows your business partner that you appreciate the hard work that was put into making your meeting a success. When appropriate a hard felt thank you letter copied to the suppliers, manager is a meaningful gesture of appreciation. This not only lets your contact know you appreciate the work they have done for you but it also shows the supervisors the good work that is being done by their staff. One association recognize quality services by hosting a luncheon each year for its staff vendors. Members from the association’s meeting department prepare and serve the food to the representatives; the luncheon served is a thank you to the vendors but was also a time for everyone to catch up on current events and to build on their relationships.
Another way to reach out to your top vendors is to recognize personal events in the business partner’s life, send personal life notes or gifts to acknowledge new births, weddings, birthdays or other momentous occasions. These expressions show that you value your representative as a person as well as a business partner. An executive director recently asked the associations’ meeting planner why a baby present for one of their top suppliers appeared on an expense account. The response was loud and clear, the sales person took special care of their account and had helped the organization time and time again, that person the planner asserted was like a member of their staff.
So why it is worth the bother; building a vendor relationship may require some additional effort by you and your staff but potential benefits of the relationship far away the extra time. When you have a great relationship with the vendor they become an extension of your meeting team and this can result in new opportunities, savings and benefits.
Recently, a conference director wrote a congratulatory note to all the staff after an event praising them and giving everyone credit for the success of the event, she even included vendors in her praise she understood that it takes a village. As you work with vendors to plan your next conference and meeting pay attention not only to the details of the event but to the details of the vendor relationships. Vendor collaboration and meeting planning will run that much more smoothly as a result.
Adrian: Hi, this is Adrian Segar from conferences that work; I would like to thank Mike for inviting me to contribute to this great podcast for the meetings industry. In my segments I am going to help you ensure that your attendees keep coming back to your events and tell others them year after year by sharing ways for you to improve the learning, the connections, the engagement, and community building that happen at your events, you do that well and people will return.
Today’s tip is get them on their feet. This is a simple thing you should be doing at your events and sadly it really happens. We have known for a long time now that having attendees sitting, listening to one or more people talking for any length of time longer than 10 or 20 minutes maximum is a poor way for them to learn. Listening isn’t the same as learning that is why the best presenters interact with their audiences and have them work with the material they are presenting turning attendees into participants in their own learning.
Now you may be saying at this point, this is all very well but I have to work in my industry with speakers who speak for an hour and there is no much I can do about that. So what should you do if say your program starts with a welcome address followed by a sponsor opportunity, followed by a key note and suddenly 70 minutes has passed without a break and you’ve got another 45 minutes session schedule? And the answer is, you get people on their feet.
Because after 70 minutes if they are uncomfortable chairs they really need an opportunity to get out of them and sadly if they are really in comfortable chairs probably half of them are half asleep. So here is what you need to do, you need to have an MC or meeting facilitator step up onto the stage and say something like the following and there are hundreds of ways of adapting this “I would like you all to stand, we are just going to do some brief stretching and exercises to get back, get the blood flowing to our brains again. I would like you to stand up straight, raise your hands above your head and stretch maybe all cleft your hands, link your fingers, stretch as high as you can, sway a little, bend slightly to the right and then up and then over to the left and bring your arms down”. And your facilitator is actually doing this, demonstrating this as the attendees are following along. “Now you might stand with your hands at your side and twist gently to the right, twist as far as you can, you might want to twist your neck as well, turn back, twist to the left and repeat several times at your own pace. Finally stand straight with your hands at your side and roll your shoulders, roll them backwards first, rotate them backwards, and now rotate them the other way. That is great everyone thank you very much, sit down and now is our next speaker”.
That took maybe a minute, it gets a lot going, it gets people’s bodies kinked un-kinked, they are more alert ready to hear the next speaker. That is how you get them on their feet. Thanks for listening to my tip today see you in future issues of meetings podcast.
Mike: Okay, thank you Adrian what a great idea get people up and about. Okay I want to thank everybody for being on the show first of all let’s thank Dana, Dana Freker Doody is the vice president of corporate communications from the expo group, she is a fantastic woman, smart, funny, has some great ideas check out all the Expo Group her twitter handle is @theexpogroup, she oversees all the communication materials for in house and client site programs plus takes an active role in innovative processes resulting in the creation of strategic and personalized experiential solutions. She is very active in social media networks and has developed personalized solutions for several clients to take advantage to impact digital tools on tradeshows in particular. Dana has been at the Expo Group for 13 years, so you can find her @theexpogroup, the expo group is everything they have so if you want to look for them go look for them on twitter it is @theexpogroup their blog is theexpogroup.com/blog and of course you can find their website at theexpogroup.com.
Pat Ahasey, thank you Pat, Pat has done another great segment, thank you for that she is a CMP-CSEP she has over 25 years of experience planning and implementing corporate and nonprofit conferences in special events as well as incentive programs. So give her a call if you need help doing anything and we have been to meetings together she is fantastic I look forward to her next one, her company is called PNV enterprises and it is HQ in New York City. You can find the website at www.pnventerprises.com. I love her twitter name it is @pnv123, you could find her on Linked In, you could find her company on Linked In, Pinterest, Facebook, everywhere.
And finally I wanted to thank Adrian Segar, Adrian can be found @asegar that is on twitter, he is a meetings architect, facilitator and author who has been running conferences for over 30 years, he loves to facilitate learning and connections between people and he is the author of “conferences that work, creating events that people love” in fact I interviewed him about that like I said about 4 years ago and you can find that it is a great book. Adrian writes about many different aspects of meetings on his popular blog conferences that work; learn more by visiting confrencesthatwork.com and of course you can find them on twitter he is one that will answer right away if you send him a message.
Let’s thank the sponsors, thank you IMEX America I hope you will come in on October I will be there where you will be there, they just finished the Frankfurt show and I heard it was really a success so let’s look forward to that it is in October as I said. Another sponsor is AV for Planners an easy way to find AV companies and evaluate proposals from them to save time and money. You can find me Mike McAllen at Grass Shack Events and Media or @mmcallen which is my twitter and you can find me at AV for Planners, you can find me at all the different social media spots too.
Again if you enjoyed listening to this head over to iTunes leave us a review, really helps us get more listeners which we seem to be getting lately which is pretty exciting and the last request you can take a look at me on Instagram because I just took a picture of myself because I talked about my father in that picture the guy with the bundle, the old guy with a smile bundle of wood on his back I am going to put that on Instagram so you can do the same thing and just take a picture of yourself when you are listening to it right now, I know you have a cell phone in your hand just take a quick snap and then put hash tag meetings podcast and I would love to see that. And of course if you have any questions or comments please send them to [email protected] or you can call me on my cell phone I have it with me all the time I would love to talk with you, my number is 925-699-3190 and I want to thank you again and thank you to all the segments and thank you, thank you, thank you have a great day and I will see you next time.