Heard it from Planner Diane Haggerty, Manager, Meetings and Conference, Metal Powder Industries Federation

One experience I had with a CSM that I’ll never forget is staff had been busy preparing for the conference all day in one of the meeting rooms at the hotel. Late that afternoon, the CSM comes in with a banquet server and these two large carts that had multiple shelves on each. On each shelf, there was individual bags of snacks, trail mix, granola bars, candy bars, pastries, bottles of water, soft drinks, etc. Our CSM explained to us that this was a complimentary service for our staff so that if we needed a pick-me-up throughout the conference it would be here for us. It came in handy so often as it was something quick we could grab on the go… especially on the days when there wasn’t any time for us to eat a meal.

Diane Haggerty
Manager, Meetings and Conferences
Metal Powder Industries Federation

Heard it from Planner Angie Ahrens, CMP, Director of Meetings & Events, Connect (formerly Collinson Media & Events)

Q: How can a facility or hotel truly WOW you? Please give examples….
A: Not only work with me, but also with my team. Many times, the professionals I work with are absolutely fantastic and overwhelmingly generous with their service towards me. But those who go above and beyond, treating my team the same way, really helps me build the morale and team work that is needed at events. Having supplies (beyond just a box of tape and cards) available for early teams is amazing. One destination went so far beyond the basics by providing a television for those long hours in the staff office, candy, even a stability ball for us to use so we had options. It is something I’ll always remember (the stability ball is currently in my office as my chair!) and appreciate.
Q: What are the top three things as a planner that you expect or need from your CVB, Hotel or Center services manager (specific services):
1. Site Visit Coordination, including a city tour with not only sales, but my services manager too.
2. Communication. Getting their contact information early (email, number, etc.) and letting me know how they respond and communicate best is always ideal.
3. An Open Mind. It is great to know what has been done in the past, as it may work best. But sometimes there are new ideas that we, as planners, can spark in you as well. This is where the honest feedback comes in, to see how we can make it the best event your city/hotel/center has ever had, in addition to our best event.

Heard it from Planner Robert J. Donovan, Senior Director, Meeting & Travel Services, AMERICAN HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION

Q: What is something that an Event Service Professional has done, or does regularly, that you love or value greatly?
I worked with a [CSM] once who anticipated our every need and took the initiative to correct the problems. Typical encounters were: “I just learned your CEO will need a late check-out…I’ve taken care of it” or “Your breakout room isn’t big enough now…we’ve moved it to a bigger room and have let everyone know”. Nothing better than having problems solved before you hear about them.
Q: What key attributes, qualities or skills are you looking for in your Event Services Representative?
A: 1) Clearly he/she must be extremely organized and able to multi-task. 2) Also resourcefulness and the ability to solve problems are of the utmost importance. 3) To me, perhaps the most important attribute is “grace under fire”. Your motto should be, “Never let ‘em see you sweat!”

Heard if from Planner Bridget A. Robinson, CMP, Director, National Convention & Meetings, The American Legion National Headquarters

Q: What is something that an Event Service Professional has done, or does regularly, that you love or value greatly?

A: Just being present on-site during the event and being available is crucial. This creates trust between the client/vendor.

Additionally, making the client feel at home. I am away from home for 22 straight days every August. Making my staff and I feel comfortable is important. Whether it is saying hello every day to us, providing a special “pin of privileges,” giving framed pictures of our loved ones or just getting to know us on a more personal level is always valued and appreciated.

Likewise, being accountable for mistakes (if we aren’t making mistakes then one isn’t learning), touching base each day on-site and being responsive throughout the entire nine months of pre-planning are all contributing factors that lead to the overall success of our National Convention. As I like to say, each train car needs to be rolling down the same track. There may be stops along the way or detours but it eventually finds its way back to the main track.

Lastly, subsequent to the event, keeping in touch truly sets the CSMs apart and shows they cared.

Heard it from Planner Dana Saal, CMP, CAE

Q: What key attributes, qualities or skills are you looking for in your Event Services Representative?
A: An Event Services Representative’s key attributes are a good memory, focus and a positive attitude:
• A good memory so he/she can memorize my agenda, recall my special needs (whether contract-worthy or not) and partner with me in my decision-making.
• Focus so he/she can concentrate exclusively on me and my event when engaged with me—even with other clients who also demand attention.
• A positive attitude because positive people are more creative, make the rough spots smoother and are easier to work with. They are also more pleasant and fun. This is not the same as someone who is supportive and gets the job done. That’s very important, of course, but someone who gets it done can also have a negative attitude and we can see through it.

Heard it from Planner Kari Ziblut, CMP, Sr. Meeting & Event Planner, Office of the Sr. Vice Chancellor, University of Kansas Medical Center

Q: What key attributes, qualities or skills are you looking for in your Event Services Representative?
A: I’ve always said the best service partners are those who have a very strong operations background. And I mean everything from the bell stand to the banquet kitchen. The reason this is so important is that I don’t want to be offered some amazing, blow my attendees away, service only to have it not happen as planned, if at all because you couldn’t pull it off. Like this example – you have got to know exactly how you’re going to pull off an “all hands on deck” ballroom turn in your sleep or things will go very badly very quickly.