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Meeting planners describe the perfect CSM

By Denise Suttle, CMP
Albuquerque CVB

This question was posed recently by Kelly W. Rush on the MiForum listserve, an industry site under the auspices of Meeting News:

From a planner perspective, what are the top qualities that WOW you when it comes to working with a conference/convention services manager? In other words, what kind of professional behaviors would you say make the ideal or perfect CSM?

Here are some planners’ responses that you can share with your colleagues at your next staff meeting or retreat. This could also form the basis of a panel discussion session if you are considering a topic for your ACOM chapter. From hearing what a planner expects from the convention services staff, to creating the training component that delivers the service, your program is well on the way to creation.

I love a CSM that is innovative, attentive, quick to respond (even if it is just to say - I need to get back to you on that one), who is there to truly support my meeting and me.

Mary Ann Linder
Meetings Manager
The Soap and Detergent Association


I am impressed by a CSM who is proactive and, let’s face it, personable. Part of the joy of this business is working with fun people. If a CSM is fun, but nothing else, that of course doesn’t cut it. But no matter how “good” a CSM is, if he or she is a drudge, that takes something away from the experience.

Neil Schwartz, CMP
Senior Event Manager
California/Nevada Credit Union Leagues


First and foremost is a “can do” attitude. I’ve had experiences in the past where they’ll tell me “I’ll get back to you on that.” I need to hear “I’ll get that for you, but if there’s a problem I’ll let you know.” It causes mass amounts of rework in that I have to remember to see if they actually did what I originally asked them.

The other thing is that they work with me on food, space, rooms, budget, etc. Things change, get added, deleted, etc. all the time and it’s a moving work in progress until we’re done. Having a sharp, professional and friendly CSM makes all the difference in the world.

Michelle Gothan
Senior Marketing Coordinator
Early Warning Services, LLC


I love one that doesn't pass me off to 101 other contacts to deal with regarding different parts of my meeting. I like having one, maybe two main contacts. Having too many contacts makes dealing with my meeting in the hotel more difficult for me. I like the feeling of knowing I am working with someone that I can count on and understands the meeting process. This is what I feel helps make my meeting a success. I find when I have too many contacts, things fall through the cracks easier. Having one or two people who know the hotel inside and out, in-turn, knows who to contact if their contact is out of the office. I would not necessarily know who to call if I get voice mail (although I would not stop until I find someone to help). It saves a good deal of aggravation on my part when I have an experienced, dedicated CSM. They are worth their weight in gold!

Susan Stacy
Director of Administration and Finance
American College of Osteopathic Internists


Responsive, Responsible, Accountable, Diligent, Supportive, In control and Pleasant

Hannah Greenberg
Director of Conference Services
Meeting Mavericks

You can learn more about planners’ perspectives and sign up to participate on the MiForum at www.mimegasite.com.

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