On a more exciting note, today we’re covering MeetingsNet best stories of 2019. And if you’re an events industry professional, you probably know all about it. Because where else would you get the best ideas and insights? Aside from Event Brew, of course! Well, this week, we decided to record a discussion around the most-read articles of the past year. This way, you can get our hosts’ opinions on the things that created the most buzz in the industry for the past 12 months.
So, hosting today are the always lovely Will Curran, Dustin Westling, and Thuy Diep. And together, they will go over MeetingsNet best stories and giving you their opinions and insights on the matters at hand. It’s going to be an episode jam-packed with information, so wait no longer. Press play and let’s get brewing!
Before we jump into the stories, Thuy makes sure to give an overview of MeetingsNet best stories. “So the first one is “Hurricane Dorian Affects the Bahamas Unevenly”. The second one is “The 2019 CMI 25: Top Meeting and Incentive Companies”. And the third one is “Event Production Giant Grows Even Bigger”, then “Hotel Contract Clauses Planners Should Be Using but Probably Aren’t” and “New Technologies Help Cut Costs for Simple Meetings”. “The Killer Icebreaker Idea To Get Everyone Telling Stories. This one really perked my interest”.
The next one is “Scrambling to Save a Meeting”, she continues. “And the next one is “From Sandwiches to Centerpieces: Sustainable Meetings Are Catching On”. The ninth one is, “What’s in Your Wallet? Planners Salary Survey 2019”. And then the last one is “Study Finds One in Four Tech-Conference Speakers are Women”.
Hurricane Dorian Affects the Bahamas Unevenly
“I think that what’s interesting about this is how it talks about this is current event”, says Will. “Technically a hurricane is outside the events industry. But it has totally affected the events industry. I feel like we need to have a little bit more of this kind of context conversation. And kind of bringing the outside in more than we do the just talk to ourselves all day long thing”.
Dustin doesn’t particularly like the fact that the article doesn’t address the loss of lives, among other things. “There is no mention about the people that work in our industry in that area and the impact that it had on them. The minimum wage, which I’m guessing is probably everybody that works in the hospitality industry, is $42 a day. So the loss of wages for those people were likely very, very tragic”. As Will adds, the article “is mainly talking about the loss of business and bookings that it likely had”.
“This is the thing that bugs me a little bit about the events industry”, says Will. “A lot of times we publish, it’s all about getting more and more content out. But a lot of times no one’s going back to update the past content that is popular. Take this article, it’s already popular. It’s probably still getting linked in information and sharing. It’s probably still ranking high on Google, that’s why it’s doing well. Update it, puts more information into it, edit it and put an editor tutorial note at the beginning”.
“I think before we move on from this, the economic impact to our industry is just mind-blowing”, adds Dustin. “And this article in MeetingsNet talks about some big acquisitions that were happening before this happened. And this hurricane really devastated that industry and it looks like there are going to be a long road before they’re back to where they were. I hope that the attention that was brought from this hurricane will help them not just get back on their feet, but get to a better place for that area of the world”.
The 2019 CMI 25: Top Meeting and Incentive Companies
The next article on MeetingsNet best stories has been on Thuy’s radar. “I actually did look at this article prior to us recording. And I actually just enjoy that it’s just a list. I believe it’s in alphabetic order and it’s a really great summary”, she explains. Will adds that “the small thing that’s bugging me on this one too is that this is only North American companies. But then they call it the top media incentive companies. Shouldn’t you have it global if it’s top across the entire world as well?”.
“So the special event article that Lisa Harley put out this year for top DMCs, theirs went into more detail. So you had your website, top officer, the average number of programs per year that they ran, estimated 2019 revenue capabilities north. And then like the event highlights that they did. And trends the watch. So every single DMC had that category. But you’re right, it was just kind of a quick little list. But it was helpful for me”, Thuy concludes.
Event Production Giant Grows Even Bigger
“It’s about the PSAV acquisition of Encore, which was huge news this year“, says Will. “And I do feel like this was one of the biggest topics of the year. Self-fulfilling in some ways, for our industry because it affected so many planners and I think it’s going to totally change 2020. We’re already seeing huge changes with it across the board. Everyone’s heard of PSAV. If you hadn’t heard of PSAV, you probably heard of Encore. And if you heard them buying each other it was like Walmart buying Amazon in the events industry, or I guess like the event production industry per se. But huge, definitely huge news”.
“This one was a two-part where the event production giant grows even bigger”, adds Thuy. “The second portion to this was BCD Meetings & Events buying L37 Creative and there’s just this been this huge focal point on creative. I know PRA, and they’re only have had been really upping the creative portion of our department, which I’m a part of. And it’s funny because Dustin, and well if you guys remember doing the event forum, it’s like that. It’s very similar in that model. This was something that was really educational for me. Just knowing and seeing what is important to, in this case, BCD and having them take over L37 Creative”.
“It’s a shift in thought. Being mindful and what’s important to these corporate companies. Creative is really ideal. And for them to have something now in-house to help guide these companies through. It could be a potential loss of business for supplier partners or it’s just now taking a bigger chunk of that pie, versus outsourcing. So this was a big deal”, she concludes.
Hotel Contract Clauses Planners Should Be Using but Probably Aren’t
Moving down the list of MeetingsNet best stories, we arrive at the fourth. “I love this kind of article because I think far too often planners think they’re lawyers”, says Will. “And a lot of times, as a supplier I’ve seen clients who just sign off on the contract and don’t ever look at what’s inside of it. Though this one kind of hits home to heart because there’s an article they had, which is, yes, you do need a cancellation clause”.
“I’ve had lots of cancellations, lots of events for different reasons and we hold people to the letter of the contract, just like that company would do for us”, adds Dustin”. And when you work for billion-dollar organizations that live in a world where they hold people accountable for the agreements that they make, we do the exact same thing. Obviously we want our clients to be clients for life and we’ll do everything we can to make it work. But at the end of the day, we’re a business too. And when they make a commitment to us, whether it be revenue or resources, those are allocated, and that’s why people have contracts. And if there’s a riot going on, and I hope they have insurance to cover the cancellation because they got to pay. There are lots of ways, as a business, there are lots of ways to protect yourself”.
“When you go into a legally binding contract, it’s the same for us too”, says Thuy. “When we sign our supplier partner contracts, we actually review even deposit dates and everything like that so then we can turn it into our client contract. And we know all those things, we pay on time and just make sure that your contract has the right clauses. And that you really read it in detail. Because there have been times where I’ve signed that contract and I had to go and really review it. Because there was a pushback or anything like that. That’s why you have multiple revisions”.
“We’re the industry where contingency planning is probably the most important thing that we do”, Dustin adds. “And oh Lord, oh Lord, I think the event industry needs its own law firm. It’s like event professionals need to stop being lawyers and stop representing themselves. And we have a few different resources that we use to make sure that when a corporation rewrites our contract or makes changes, I rarely am the person that says, “Yeah okay, that makes sense.” I always get somebody else to look at it and it’s costly, but it’s not nearly as costly as getting left with nothing after six months of work. So preach, preach”.
New Technologies Help Cut Costs for Simple Meetings
Next up on the list of MeetingsNet best stories, it’s all about tech. “New technologies help cut costs for simple meetings, aka Mr. Sloth”, explains Thuy. “And co-scheduling and all these other things that you make us learn. And so this is actually, I’m living it. Currently day-to-day we’re constantly trying to figure out what the latest tool, a technology tool that we can do to create just like effective workflow and collaboration within the internal team and how do we get things out faster?”.
“I think the number one thing I’ve talked about when I’m at industry events is just how everyone is “busy” because of this new unfavorable trend of everyone needing something more customized and like tomorrow. And so what are we doing as responsibilities? Are we putting our foot down saying no, or saying, “Yes, but let’s figure out how to work smarter”?
“So what’s interesting about this one is like it’s written, new technologies to help cut costs”, says Will. “And everyone’s always looking for like a tool or a hack to save time, right? It’s like the equivalent of five tools to help save you time every day or something like that, right? Everyone’s always trying to figure out how to cut costs. I do like that it’s focusing on cutting costs, not just like, “Here’s a technology for technology’s sake.”
The next story is essentially three articles in one. “It’s a really catchy title here and there were actually three links to this”, explains Thuy. “The killer ice breaker idea to get everyone telling stories, help your attendees warm up to these awesome icebreakers and three conference game people will actually like playing”.
Breaking The Ice
“They basically say what you need to do is ask three simple questions. What was the first meeting, convention or large gathering you have ever attended and how did you feel there? And the next question is, what has been the proudest moment of your career so forth? That’s cool because you get people to show off. And would you like to hear a story from me? So it’s a yes or no question”.
“Scrap the first two questions. I mean me the proudest moment could be the story, but you should just have everybody in the room tell a story. And I think that’s like super duper cool. I mean, but again like how big are these groups?”, Dusti wonders.
“I actually like these questions”, says Thuy. “Well, I liked the third question because that’s yes or no. But the first and second one, that’s professional, you can get to know someone on a deeper level. I just hear that question get asked on panels all the time from young professionals. And I think that’s a really great story to know and to tell. And it’s positive and there are probably lessons learned there”.
The Candy Bar Personality Test
“So attendees walk in the room, there are nine different types of candy on the table”, explains Dustin. “You pick the candy that you like the most, and then you sit in groups according to the candy that you’ve chosen. They tell you what candies to you. So it’s Baby Ruth, Three Musketeers, Butterfingers Snickers, Nestle Crunch, Milky Way, Almond Joy, Twix, and Energy Bar”.
Scrambling to Save a Meeting
“I just love this concept”, Will admits. “It’s basically it’s a horror story. So the title of the article is Scrambling to Save a Meeting. And a planner gets really vulnerable talking about when a hotel closed and they had to scramble, get the event put together and it talks about their experience of what it was like. I think the only thing I don’t necessarily like about it is how short it is. It doesn’t really go super deep. This was obviously like hours and days of this person’s life changed and I wish it detailed out. Like what did she do step by step? Even the mistakes she made”.
This article from MeetingsNet best stories brings up a discussion about failing. “It’s so taboo in our industry and in our society to talk about our mistakes and our failures”, says Thuy. “Well, temporary defeats because those, in order to be successful you need to make mistakes. Those are where your learning lessons come into play. And I think we should be able to be more cuddly and vulnerable to express these mistakes that we make along the way. Because life isn’t perfect, it’s not just this highlight reel that we put on social media. It’s being able to be human. And that’s what’s really what’s lacking in connecting one another”.
“I found that at the beginning of my entrepreneurial career that I hid all of my mistakes and I never wanted to share them and I never wanted to talk about them”, adds Dustin. “And I found that over time talking about my mistakes allowed me to be held accountable for them. And when you make a mistake and you keep it to yourself, chances are pretty good you’re going to make it again. Then a lot of times you can save people from making that same mistake, which is really why we’re all here. It’s why we have this podcast. It’s why we put in the extra time that we do in our industry”.
From Sandwiches to Centerpieces: Sustainable Meetings Are Catching On
Sustainability in the events industry is a topic we’ve covered quite a few times. And that’s exactly what the next article from MeetingsNet best stories is all about! “Obviously sustainability was probably the biggest trend of the last few years”, says Will. “It’s going to continue to be here and a huge trend. I think not only just be a trend, but it needs to be something that needs to be done. I think we’ve talked a lot about that being how important it is”.
“But I feel like the far too often we’re getting these similar articles to this where it’s just so broad strokes about sustainability”, he continues. “I want to see more specific things, and they start to get a little bit more actionable of it. Like doing a meatless Monday menu. Don’t hand out plastic drinking bottles with a company logo. Those are all really good things, but almost that article could be those four bullet points. It’s explaining why it’s important. Everyone understands why it’s important. Just start making articles that give you specific tips. Here’s what you should do, here’s what you should do. Here’s an idea, here are all these things like that. I think that’s what everyone wants right now. I think everyone knows they need to go. They just don’t know how to go”.
What’s in Your Wallet? Planners Salary Survey 2019
“I do see why this stuff is popular though. People were like, “Well, I’m making this much. I wonder if I’m making more or less so I can complain about how much I’m making. I want to get more,” use this as leverage, things like that. There’s not a lot of data on this stuff at our events industry though either”, says Will.
“This article is not ideal, but I will say this is so important to our industry”, adds Thuy. “Because we never talk about it. There are so many other industries where you know what the salary ranges are. And I feel like this is an issue in our events industry that we’re not talking about what we’re making because it’s this, that or the other. It’s not professional. But it’s so ideal because there are some people in my position that could be making way more or just way less. And yes, I get it. Location, cost of living, all of that in your experience. But if we’re not talking about it, if you’re not knowing what that range is, how can you go into a negotiation? Because it needs to be fair. We tend to be an industry where we just, we’re just so passionate about it and we just get really bad pay”.
Study Finds One in Four Tech-Conference Speakers are Women
Wrapping up MeetingsNet best stories is an article about women in the events industry. “I feel like the stat doesn’t necessarily surprise you. When I heard that stat, I’m like, that makes sense. But my question is what are we doing to improve it? And how can we make this better?”, asks Will.
“How can we highlight, for example, more awesome women’s speakers and be able to make it so, hey, it has to be done. And you know, I’m not necessarily saying like, “Hey, you just have to hire this person just because they’re a woman.” But I definitely think there’s some amazing, I’ve seen this year amazing women speakers who blew my mind and were absolutely incredible. And I mean, I just want to see more of it. I just feel right now, we’re just sitting on stats and talking about how bad it is. But again, we need to start taking action. It’s almost like where sustainability was five years ago is where we’re at with this”.
“I just want to say it’s not just even like women, but just like I would love to see all ranges of the humankind, different ethnicities, and nationalities and just all of that”, adds Thuy. “I want, I crave that to hear people from all over the world, Indies and segment, the market segments that we have, be able to speak and have that voice”.
MeetingsNet Best Stories: Conclusion
And that’s a wrap on today’s episode of Event Brew! How did you like our overview and analysis of MeetingsNet best stories? What was your favorite? Make sure you let us know, and don’t forget to tune in again next week for some delicious brewing and uncensored event talk!