This is the second blog, in a series of three, addressing meeting and event planning industry standards. Our first post dealt with meeting and event planners and how satisfied they were in their jobs. In that article we talked about how happy planners were with various aspects of their jobs. Most survey results indicated that, while there is always room for improvement, most event planners are content. Part of those findings show that a lot of professionals in the meeting and event planning industry are continuing their professional development. That”s a good sign indeed.
Read the full article here: Are Meeting and Event Planners Happy in Their Jobs?
Establishing Event Planning Standards Is Crucial
For this post we are going to shift our focus from event planner satisfaction to event planning standards. And, in particular, are those standards slipping. In the past when potential clients have asked me why they should hire me over a competitor, my reply has always been towards the standards. What I would generally say to a potential client is basically a transportation vehicle will be the same vehicle no matter which company you select. But what sets my company apart is the customer service that we provide during that transportation. In other words, I was trying to set us apart from our competition by addressing service expectations and our attitude towards them.
In my research for this article I found that most companies hold their customer surveys very close to their chest. However, I did reach out to a few of my colleagues in the industry and got them to give me some information and insights into customer satisfaction.
Generally, most customers have very high regards for the venues that are hosting their functions. There is a lot of attention to detail that is being given to the physical structure. The food also rated quite high on the satisfaction scale. Where the food was critiqued was in the price and portion sizes (as in too small). I have to say that I”m not quite in agreement with the portion size comments.
Where there was “room for improvement” was in the service personnel. A lot of feedback here was related to attitude and lack of knowledge regarding the event. And unfortunately this is probably one of the easiest areas for improvement. So why aren”t we improving?
I want to relay a staff recruiting story that I heard at a recent networking event. I was having a conversation with a few hotel executives when one started to relay an employee recruitment story about her hotel. This particular hotel (name and location obviously withheld) was hosting a job fair at a college. The job fair wasn”t particularly busy and the students had a laissez-faire attitude. The individual relaying the story was shocked with the lack of professionalism from the students. Most did not bother to wear business attire, rather many showed up in sweatpants. Now here”s the shocking part of the story. The next day, during an executive meeting, the human resources manager stated to the team that they may be faced with lowering their hiring standards in order to fill all of the jobs that were currently vacant. Yep, you heard me right. Now I”m not implying that we should hire someone just because they are wearing business attire. But, come on, if a potential employee doesn”t have the wherewithal to come to an interview in proper attire, you can pretty much be assured this is not a good match for you.
Now if I had been the hotel”s general manager there probably would”ve been one more job opening that day; the human resources position.
It is crucial that, when hiring, you look for someone that is able to implement your standards. At a minimum.
Key Items to Ensure You”re Hiring the Right Person for Your Event Planning Company
Employees are also potential customers. A mentor of mine taught me this a long time ago. Of course when interviewing for a position, you”re not going to be able to hire everybody that you meet. But it is crucial that you treat all interviewees as if they were your customers. Because, you just never know, one of them may be in a position down the road to offer your company a very lucrative piece of business. And they”ll remember their experience with you, even if you did not hire them.
The management versus staff mentality. If you are currently using these terms in your business stop right away. There”s nothing that drives me crazier than seeing a sign in an establishment signed by “the management”. To me using those terms to identify hierarchy in an organization is simply off putting. Whether you are the president of the company, or a more important coordinator, to me you are all staff. I really don”t care who has more authority within your organization. All I care about is that I”m getting the service that I expect.
Responsibility versus authority. Both have to be equal or the job task is not aligned properly. How can you possibly make somebody responsible for an action without giving them the proper authority to implement that action. All too often employees will have all of the responsibility with no authority. A no-win situation.
Establishing minimum standards of service for your company. I know that sounds like a no-brainer statement, but you would be surprised at the number of event planning companies that do not state its service standards. I guess it”s as if all the employees are mind readers? We”ve talked a lot about event planning checklists here. Well this is one item that I think should be built into every checklist. An event planning checklist must address company standards.
Service standards must be developed by the team. Establishing service standards is not a top down approach. The days of the boss dictating how he or she wants things to be done are becoming very unproductive. How many service training seminars have you attended where the presenter is in the front of the room running through some acronym that relates to service standards (like ” S is for standards”)? Honestly does this even work anymore? A service training program has to be inclusive of the participants in the room. The good ones are the ones where a checklists is developed throughout the training seminar by the participants input.
All indications are that most customers are quite happy with their event planning company. Event planners do have a keen sense of service standards. Where our industry standards sometimes fail is when we do not relay our expectations to our coworkers.
The next article relating to event planning industry standards will focus on the relationship between colleges and industry players.