Saturday, June 9, 2012

It's about filling the Holes

Cantrav Services, a night begins...
Recently I have seen a few posts on the job titles in event planning. It is indeed a job which from the outside looks pretty simple. After all, nearly everyone has been part of hosting or attending an event, and every day, all around the world, thousands do just this. The basics are obvious. You book a venue, decide on a theme, lay out an agenda, bring together some vendors, guests arrive, enjoy and you accept the accolades and move on to the next great event. 

Of couse, any event professional reading this now thinks I must have lost my marbles. But let me ask, has this ever happened to you as you are introduced - "this is Tahira, she plans parties."  Simplistic, yes. Reality, quite often. To describe the qualities of thoughtful strategic thinking combined with a solid logistical knowledge of transportation, environment, entertainment, theme / decor, technical production and venue management (to name a few) with the magic that is the creative overview and flow that brings together event after meeting after event in a way that people leave just knowing they had a great time, through knowledge gained, food and beverage and environment or entertainment enjoyed, connections made or relationships deepened is a nearly impossible task. This is not just me, but many industry professionals who may not be fully appreciated for the skills and experience that make our jobs look simple.

Great event planning goes beyond the agenda, objectives and the strategy. The value in choosing your meeting professional does not come from finding the person (or company) that can put together the agenda or recommend the decor, the value comes from the experience that fills in the holes. Those gaps that begin as committee members (corporate, association, fundraiser, third parties with clients - they all have `committees` under various guises or names) all head off with their own agendas, each filling in their parts. The gaps are all the pieces in between that can either tie things together or create yawning chasms that interfere with flow and can negatively affect the overall experience. 

Great professionals fill in the gaps - with music, with experiences, with entertainment or directional signage, storytelling the content to tie it together, allowing for the white space where reflection and discussion deepen the learnings. They make sure that each session has the right floor plan, that the silent auction is in the right location, that the live auction happens at the most auspicious time, that routes between events are mapped and interesting, that every single presenter feels their specific requirements were heard, that the venues and authorities find their myriad rules were adhered to - all those things that almost no participant will ever know has happened. Without attention to the holes, events would have multiple opportunities to be less than successful, so the next time you see an event going well, thank the professional who paid attention.

The next time someone asks what you do, how about, Ì pay attention and make your events memorable.


  1. Managing the in between (or the gaps as you call them) is an under-appreciated skill and an unrealized opportunity at some eventgs.

  2. Thanks Jeffrey, indeed it is, and in the end what separates good from great.