The holidays are a great time of year to enjoy downtime with family and friends, reflect on challenges and successes from the current year, and start setting goals for the next year. Our day-to-day lives in this busy industry can often make us feel like we are running around on a hamster wheel. It’s hard to find time to pause, take a step back and ask ourselves: Are my company’s goals and objectives aligned to the meetings I plan throughout the year? What are we aiming to achieve? Am I planning transactional, repetitive meetings, or am I planning transformational meetings with a purpose? Are the meetings I am planning driving revenue for the company?
In many financial and insurance companies, there is a gap between the meeting planning team and the line of business that causes us to have these uncertainties. Meetings professionals are often not in-the-know with hot topics in the industry and what that means for the business and the company's strategic goals and objectives.
While we do not have all of the answers, we would like to share a success story on how we were faced with a challenging situation and the steps we took to plan a successful event.
A couple of years ago, we went through a major acquisition that came with changes, unknowns, uncomfortable conversations and fear of what was to come. We were tasked with taking over a fully executed contract and planning the target companies’ high-end incentive program. We essentially knew nothing about the attendees, culture, and goals and objectives of the program. Instead of diving right into the planning process, we had to take a step back and spend weeks in the pre-planning phase. Jessica worked in a hybrid role in the line of business at the time and Suzanne was the lead meeting planner. We had twice the amount of internal planning meetings than we did on any other program. Much of that time was spent researching and understanding what the company’s events were like prior to our involvement and comparing that to how we executed incentives. This required a significant amount of communication with senior leaders, a detailed project plan and increased communication with every stakeholder involved. Once we understood both sides, we were challenged with the question: How do we successfully blend one company’s culture, rules and regulations with another, and still make the attendees feel special and part of the family? We hit many speedbumps along the way – questions from the attendees that we didn’t necessarily have answers to until further along in the planning process, difficult conversations in which we said “no” on a number of occasions when the attendees were used to hearing “yes,” objections, brand challenges, difficulties in creating the program agenda, etc.
As a result of these proactive steps, we planned and executed a flawless event combining two different cultures into one. This conference set the tone of the acquisition. The return on investment was measured by the accolades we received. Financial advisors who were wary of the transition were now excited about the future. If it wasn’t for Jessica’s knowledge of the business and direct line of communication to the senior leaders, and Suzanne’s extensive meeting planning background, this could have resulted in a completely different experience for the attendees. We officially executed a transformational meeting during a challenging time by spending a significant amount of time in the pre-planning stage in order to understand our leaders’ goals and objectives.
As you reflect on 2018 and set goals for 2019, ask yourself: Am I planning transactional meetings or am I creating transformational meetings with a purpose that are aligned to my company’s goals and objectives? If you’re creating transactional meetings because a gap exists between your meeting planning team and the line of business, we encourage you to fill that gap, whether it be with quarterly meetings with a mentor from the line of business, hosting a strategic planning meeting in January with senior leaders or key stakeholders, and/or creating a hybrid role that supports both the planning team and the line of business.
National Account Executive
Hello! Destination Management
Suzanne Loreto, CMP
Event and Conference Planner
MassMutual Financial Group