Anyone who has ever planned a meeting knows
that collapse-into-your-chair feeling that comes when the last
attendee leaves and the event ends without incident. But this is no
time to sit still. One of the most important stages of the meeting
the follow-up is about to begin.
Finishing strong has never been more important to meeting
planners than it is today. Marketing activities are under the
microscope, and such scrutiny is not going away. Return on
investment might seem like all the rage, but it’s much more than a
passing fad. Indeed, the need for meeting planners to prove their
worth to show real business results from their efforts grows
greater by the day.
Making that final push is no easy feat, but this post-meeting
advice might ease the way.
Don’t Let Time Lapse
Huddle first. Before everyone scurries to the
airport, meet with your team, key hotel personnel and vendors. No
event is perfect, yet no event fails to teach. A formal debrief, in
which you gather and offer feedback to those who helped plan and
execute the meeting, allows you to build on what worked or learn
from failure. What went smoothly? What didn’t? When did the
attendees head for the doors? Asking these simple questions and
archiving the answers can prove to be an invaluable investment of
Crunch the numbers right away. When
calculating ROI, job one is to understand the costs. And it’s
important to understand them sooner rather than later before the
information gets cold and that next big project takes your
Many venues provide invoices one or two days after the meeting.
Some give daily debriefs to help planners track expenses against
budgets as the event unfolds. Understanding this information while
it’s fresh is the key to explaining it to your boss or client.
Analyze the feedback. With the advent of
electronic surveys, out went the excuse that gathering feedback is
not worth the time, effort or expense. But unfortunately, while
most planners do conduct post-meeting surveys, too few carry out
the most important part of the exercise: analyzing the feedback and
documenting the conclusions. Whether it’s quantitative or
qualitative information, recording the results is a key first step
to demonstrating success.
Be generous with thank-yous. The value of
personalized follow-up cannot be understated. Hand-written
thank-you notes should be sent to all those involved in pulling off
the event. If at all possible, also send personal thank-you notes
Go in person. A little post-meeting networking
can yield benefits for months or years to come. A brief visit to
the client who hired you or the executive whose event you ran can
set the stage for future success.
Share the results
Be prepared. Digesting the event with your boss or
client is perhaps the most important step of all. Go in armed with
a blend of qualitative and quantitative data. Because executives
deal in numbers, a mix of statistics, ratings and other numerical
measures often strikes a chord with top brass. At the same time,
testimonials from attendees are an excellent way to complement hard
numbers; they personalize the statistics, allowing you to flesh out
a story of how goals were met.
Now, collapse. Proving meeting results can be
arduous, and the most difficult part can be in finding the energy
to make that final push. But if you can muster the will to finish
strong, collapsing into that easy chair is all the more
Keith Allen, CMP, is a Crowne Meetings Director with the
Irvine-Orange County Airport Crown Plaza in Irvine,