Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio May
Back to Basics
By Louise M. Felsher, CMM, CMP
THE ART OF THE COMPLAINT
Keep cool and gripe wisely to ensure event snafus are
resolved to everyone’s satisfaction
While every planner’s dream is to pull off the perfect meeting
where attendees are thrilled, the client is happy with the bill and
the hotel makes money the truth is, something almost always goes
Complaining about meeting elements can be awkward.
Unfortunately, as a result of recent cutbacks in staffs and
budgets, miscommunications and errors are more likely to occur.
Planners who prepare a solid plan for the event and stand firm when
trouble arises can help ensure superior complaint resolution.
First evaluate the time and cost damages associated with a
complaint, and determine a realistic time frame for correction. Ask
yourself: Is it worth the effort to go after compensation?
Remuneration might be worth pursuing when the hotel suddenly
changes the meeting space assigned to your group, but an
unauthorized lunch entrée substitution is not as catastrophic. It
might be enough to acknowledge the error and review the banquet
event orders with the convention services manager or the catering
manager for the rest of the event to ensure there are no more
Most importantly, factor in the relationships involved and the
long-term outcome. If the supplier is a longtime partner, weigh the
future value of the connection before taking drastic measures to
rectify a situation.
POINT OF CONTACT
When a problem arises, quickly and carefully identify the person
you should speak with for instance, the convention services
manager, the general manager or the person responsible for the
infraction. Often in the frenzy of an event, the closest target
receives the wrath, which can cause harm to a relationship.
Choosing to go to the most senior leader (i.e., racing to the
CEO) is another mistake. You can always follow up later with a
formal letter should it be necessary.
Consider first who can fix the problem quickly and effectively.
This should be your first point of contact and hopefully your
In addition, decide if you should limit the number of people who
know about the problem, or if there is any need to notify other
people, such as the perpetrator’s direct boss or members of your
own team. Spreading the word might circumvent future problems, or
it might be a wise move considering the basic hierarchical
structure of your organization.
If the lunchtime entertainment doesn’t show up, for example, and
the cocktail reception’s band is booked through the same talent
agency, make calls to the agency and then let the planners of the
evening activities know about the problem.
CHOOSE AN ATTACK
Consider a range of solutions before you attempt to collect on your
grievances. Ideally, outline the objections and put your
expectations in writing even if it’s just for a personal record or
notes for your post-con meeting.
Present the problem simply and directly, and hold back on your
demands until hearing the defendant’s plan, as it might exceed your
expectations. Similarly, it is honorable to downsize an offer if
you think it is too generous (yes, it happens).
If the compensation is not satisfactory, restate your losses
briefly and ask for what you want. Always be gracious and listen to
a counteroffer. In the end, relationships will have greater value
over any bottom-line adjustments.
CHECK YOUR TEMPER
Staying as calm as possible is to your advantage, so be sure to
hold your tongue. Tirades are always a last resort.
The ultimate goal for all concerned is prompt and pleasant
resolution. Act swiftly for credibility and results.Louise M. Felsher, CMM, CMP, is a free-lance
strategic marketing consultant in Northern California’s Silicon
Back to Current Issue indexM&C
| Events Calendar
| Incentive News
| Meetings Market
| CVB Links
| Reader Survey
| Hot Dates
| Contact M&C