by Elizabeth Zielinski, CMM | July 9, 2014

According to Webster’s Dictionary, a bucket list is a list of things one has never done but would like to do before dying. Many people write down their bucket lists as a form of long-term goal setting, and refer to it when having experiences they have always wanted to have. The concept made me think about what might be on a bucket list for our profession. What are the aspirational things you or I might like to do in our meetings careers if we had the chance? They don't have to be things you will realistically do anytime soon, but rather things you would love to accomplish if the right opportunity came along.
For me, one of the things on my bucket list would be a chance to work internationally. By this, I don’t mean planning an event in another country, or with an international attendee base. I mean actually relocating, and learning the business from within a different culture than the one I call home. Aside from the intellectual challenge I am sure it would present, I think it would also force consideration of what constitutes differences and similarities between people and audiences, irrespective of local culture.
I’d also love a chance to work in hotel operations. Not just sales, but in every department of a facility. When I ask for a creative banquet setup, how does that affect the staff’s workday? I’ve had all sorts of experience managing my groups’ space needs from a host’s perspective, but how does a reservations department put the puzzle pieces together? How exactly does sales know how to block the meeting space? The American Society of Association Executives has a Hotel Operations Program that simulates some of these experiences, but it’s a two-day program and doesn’t happen every year. Formerly, it was a weeklong program in which participants spent time working in each department. I never had the opportunity to attend when it was designed as such, and I regret it. Hoteliers often study how planners do their work; I believe it would be a hugely beneficial exercise for planners to do the same.
My big one, and the one I realistically hope to accomplish some day, is to plan an event pro bono for a good cause. I would love to take full responsibility to create an event for a charitable organization simply because the cause ignites my passion. I have done so piecemeal before, lending expertise where I could, but the practicalities of earning a living have kept me from being able to take on more than that. Altruistic reasons aside, what would I learn about how passion motivates our work instead of compensation? And how might it affect the way I approached my work if serving that passion was the only thing I expected to receive?
I could probably come up with even more things I would like to experience professionally, but I’d love to know what others would like to do if given the chance. Comment below, or email me at You can also find me on Twitter, @E_Zielinski.