Rants of an Old Independent Meeting Planner

By Barry Zidel, Principal at Meeting Connections, Inc. 

Genesis: How did the events and meeting planning industry really begin? 

In thinking about this wild, wacky, and wonderful industry in which those of us find ourselves, it must have come into being by pure happenstance…rudimentarily perhaps by an executive of a company asking his assistant set up the conference room so he or she could comfortably address either a potential client, or to address internal personnel with, let’s say a somewhat formal or informal luncheon…… something to impress! 

As do most things, those instances can become quite successful, if even by accident. This happenstance bore fruit based on someone’s creativity and labor. My oh my, how this “accident” has grown in global proportions! From these humble beginnings with a singular individual and some creativity, it grew into small independent event and meeting planning companies worldwide! In today’s world there are tens of thousands of these companies in every corner of the globe. 

Of course, beyond these independents, there are in-house corporate and association planners. Make no mistake, these planners are just as sharp and adept as the independents. In fact, there are various degrees of reliance of independents from the in-house planners. Independent planners, by the nature of their existence and potential growth, are exposed to multiple industries and disciplines. My feeling when I got involved in this industry was that one either got it right away, or one did not and honestly never would! There’s no mystique/ It involves: a bit of creativity, psychology, and knowledge of just about everything, and certainly a lot guts! 

So here comes the “rant”. Evolution occurs in every walk of life. In this business “in the beginning” our working tools were lined pads of paper; pens, you know those things you sometimes pickup at tradeshows; pencils that are virtually extinct, an electric typewriter, a high-end “toy” called a telex machine; and of course, a telephone. I found the telephone was a special means of communicating with other human beings, who by the way, were also eager to converse with the caller! 

Now, with all these tools at hand, we were off to the races! We made appointments, had face to face meetings, developed business relationships and sometimes even friendships. From that point, we knew every element we had to deal with and oh my, if we had questions, or better ideas to make a meeting more effective, all we had to do was pick up the telephone to discuss what was necessary and the betterment of the project. Our job, and still is today, is to make our clients look great! 

We understood everything because beyond that old-timers’ stuff, relationships were at the very core of how we conducted this odd-ball amazing business. Generations change of course. Technology really evolves at a more rapid pace than ever before. That doesn’t mean that we, at any age, and for anyone who really cares about this business, have the pride and fortitude to aim for perfection can just not give care about developing relationships at every level of what we do.  

The growth of this industry is thanks to businesses like our small independent planners, corporate and association planners, hotels, a/v companies, off-premises food and beverage companies, airlines, multi-media companies, digital marketing companies, and on and on!  

It’s all about service, knowledge and connections! 

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About Muzette Randall

ConventionPlanit.com is a complimentary search directory and RFP portal for meeting planners. This blog will feature meetings industry tips and news geared toward meeting planners and an inside look at the trade-shows ConventionPlanit.com participates in.

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