Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio July
Back to Basics
BY MIKE KABO
Keeping VIPs happy means arranging every little
They come in all shapes, sizes, titles, temperaments and levels
of neediness, and there's at least one at every meeting. I'm
referring to those very important people who must be catered to and
pampered while attending a meeting.
The care and feeding of VIPs, whether they're CEOs, keynote
speakers or your bosses, is a critical component to any successful
meeting. And making a VIP feel special is limited only by corporate
culture, budget, the personality of the VIP and your ability to do
Below are some creative (and not so creative) ways to treat VIPs
that have worked for me.
BEFORE THE VISITATION
First impressions and personal touches mean everything. Don't
notify VIPs about the meeting the same way you notify others.
Personally handle their reservations and registration. Then make a
follow-up call or a personal visit to ask if they received all of
the meeting materials.
WILL THE SPACE SHUTTLE SUFFICE?
Be sure to arrange every moment of the VIPs' transportation to and
from the airport, hotel and meeting venue. Having them picked up by
a chauffeur in a shiny new car and helped with their luggage sets
the right tone.
If air travel is required, your VIPs should be upgraded to the
highest class of service possible. (If you have the resources,
think of the impression a private jet would make.) Reconfirm all
reservations, make sure that the proper seats have been assigned
and that all travel documents - including passports and visas - are
accurate and delivered on time. Keep your VIPs informed, in
advance, of any cancellations or delays, and make them aware that
alternative travel arrangements are in place, in the event they are
Contact the airline your VIPs will be flying and arrange to have
people from the special services group meet them when they arrive.
These people can whisk the VIPs through check-in and settle them
into the airline club. Have your VIPs escorted onto the plane and
greeted by the captain.
Equal treatment should be visible on their arrival. Special
services representatives can meet your VIPs as they deplane, help
them collect their bags and ensure that they are met by their
transportation for the trip to the hotel.
ON THE PREMISES
At minimum, top-notch treatment requires a room upgrade. Inspect
and select the room yourself during the site inspection. Your VIPs
should have the best room according to their tastes. Size may not
be the key - the requirements might be darkness, access to
elevators or another esoteric preference.
There are some basic and not so basic things you can do to make
the accommodations truly special. Find out individual likes and
dislikes - from pillow type to favorite breakfast cereals - from an
assistant, colleague or significant other, and use this information
to design an experience that will astonish your VIPs. Besides the
correct type of pillow, check personally that:The room is clean and ready.The minibar is stocked with favorite refreshments and
snacks.The flowers are the varieties they like.The in-room gifts are top of the line.The electronic equipment is working.
Extras you may want to consider:Install an extra phone line in a place they can actually reach.
Going a step further, have a PC and printer already set up and
waiting in the room.If they need fax machines, install them and clearly identify
the fax number.Have a piece of exercise equipment placed in their rooms.Put the VIPs' company stationery in their rooms. Don't forget
other basic office supplies.If the hotel has a business center, set up an account for your
VIPs.Arrange for their favorite newspaper(s), stock quote(s) and
other news needs to be available each morning or throughout the
day.Rent them cellular phones.Arrange for a "personal assistant" if the hotel does not have a
qualified concierge.Prepare a list of key phone numbers and extensions with your
number at the top of the list.Have a car on call for your VIPs in case they want to do some
sightseeing or shopping.
Finally, when you think you have every angle covered and every
conceivable amenity secured, ask your VIPs if there's anything they
need. Getting feedback and acting on it quickly and professionally
is, after all, the ultimate VIP treatment.
Mike Kabo is president of Solutions Inc., a New York
City-based consulting firm specializing in travel and meeting
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