What is a Meeting Professional to you?

This was told to me years ago and it still sticks: A Meeting Professional walks just ahead of the Client’s path and sweeps away any obstacles that may come up. That also means to always be within listening range to learn of any new directions this path may need to take, so you can adjust accordingly.

Meeting Planners tend to get possessive about their meetings. An easy thing to do when there is so much involved. MeetingKnowledge understands that it is always the Clients’ meeting. We are here to sweep the path. More importantly, we are here to protect the Client from unfair and unecessary costs.

Why do you say MeetingKnowledge specializes in Regional Meetings anywhere in the USA? What does that mean?

I recognize the need, especially in this economy, that while meetings can be expensive, they still are very much needed. I prefer to work in the USA simply because that is what I know best – this is where I can do the most good. I have been traversing the USA since I was 16. I know a lot of properties.

Doing a meeting in a smaller city is a smart choice and they have much to offer. The midsize company with basic meeting needs or a large company with relatively small attendee volume does not have to go a large city or to a large meetings and incentive company with higher costs to get their meeting done. MeetingKnowledge can keep it simple and less expensive. And besides, I love going to visit those 2nd tier cities. (Louisville, Lexington, Birmingham, Charlottesville, Tulsa, Miami, OK, Omaha – just to name a few.)

Does that mean you won’t take on larger meetings in larger cities?

Not at all. There are many regional companies who want to go to Orlando, New York, Miami, Dallas, Chicago or Denver (for instance). I know those cities very well. That is another reason why it would make sense for MeetingKnowledge to do those meetings.

Why are you both a Meeting Professional and a Marketing Writer?

Because I love to do both. I am quite happy writing marketing and sales materials and find it an exciting aspect to my career. I have been writing all my professional life while doing other things. For more information on my marketing writing services please visit

Meeting Planning is important to me because it keeps me in touch with wonderful people all over the country. The coordinating of an event very often is a challenging experience in some way, and I find in meeting services the urgency and dedication it requires tends to bring out the best in people. I am always pleased and honored to be part of a group of people like that.

How do you price a writing project?

Once I have been briefed on the size of the project and timeline, I will submit a proposal based on the estimate of time it should take. It can be on a fee basis or not hourly, whichever makes the most sense and, if applicable, royalties may be involved. Variables depend on how much background materials and metrics will be provided to me by the company and how much research on my own I will need to do. If travel to a hotel site is required, then, of course, that time and expenses will be factored in.

How do you price a meeting?

What first happens is I listen. I listen to everything a Client has to say about their meeting and how they picture it so far. It is best to keep it in the abstract at this point, so you can free form it before you have to bring it into scope. After the Client has told me everything, I then ask questions that I believe may not have been thought of by this point. I am not looking for answers yet, I am just looking at the components because soon enough they will need to be put into the budget. Nothing beats a realistic budget.

We have a list of line items that usually appear in a meeting budget. Keep in mind there are no two meetings alike. Even if they look like it on paper, they are not. Variables are always around the purpose of the meeting, location, time of year etc. Each meeting has a personality of its own, reflecting the people working on it, and the evolving needs and requirements as the meeting develops.

Generally speakng I charge my pre-work on an hourly basis and my onsite work as a daily fee, as a cost saving measure to the Client.

How does the Budgeting of a meeting work for you? Do you have a formula?

The thing about money is that it tends to move around. Even when you think you can’t find it, it is there. And that is how I approach my budgets. Once line items are priced, be assured they will change. I have learned not to panic when it appears that certain line items are over budget. It just means it is time to rethink and reshape and start using your options, like: prioritize, renegotiate, send to bid, redesign, rent, not build, etc.

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New only happens once and then it’s gone.
There is constant need to create an ever changing Industry presence.

Consultant Projects

-Writing Marketing Content
Whether your Brand is promoting a holiday getaway, special promotion, or new flagship property, as your marketing content writer writing about the Guest Experience, we take your future guests to the point of saying “I’ve got to have this. I have got to go to this hotel for my next meeting, vacation, lunch, shopping spree, wedding…..”

-Promotional and Management Services
-Creating Hotel Relationships programs designed to enhance the Corporate Group meetings and Guest experience.
-Project Development and Management/Facilitator for Hotels, Convention Visitor Bureaus and their agencies.
-Sourcing Packages promoting the best from a selection of Hotel Brands

The Interview Forum

-The Written Interview
Bring together Hotel Industry Leaders on important topics without ever leaving home. I personally conduct the phone conversation and then weave the information into a dynamic interview discussion. Whether it is about the opening of your new restaurant or a piece in an industry publication, my expertise lies in the research and making the writing look seamless.

– Live Roundtable Forums
Gathering Hotel Industry Experts and Key Opinion Leaders together for a live roundtable forum conducted in your Hotel. I will manage and facilitate the event and capture, while working closely with you in defining the topic and structure of the interview and choosing the right participants.

Project Samples:
Hotel News Now

The Gaylord Palms Resort renovation from a meeting professional’s point of view.
Gaylord Palms Resort Reprint MeetingKnowledge

I look forward to our first project together.

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FAQs about meetings

How do you define the purpose of having a meeting?

There are various reasons to hold a meeting. It always essentially revolves around delivering an important message to a group of people. Even a Recognition event, like a Circle of Success meeting, is sending the message: “Here is a reward for your hard work and exceptional job performance.” But each company, according to the environment of their business, will have their own unique message to deliver.

What do you mean by type of meetings? How many types are there?

There are several types of meeting. By determining the purpose of your meeting usually identifies which type of meeting it will be. For instance, if the meeting is for the national sales managers who meet twice a year, that could be called a POA meeting (Plan of Action) where they learn from leadership which direction they are going and how they are to implement the action.

An Advisory Board meeting will be smaller (average 10 – 20 people) who gather in one room to review issues that need to be resolved.

Each industry will hold their meetings according to the compliance requirements under which they exist. For instance, a Pharmaceutical company has many Healthcare Professional (HCP) Guidelines that they must comply according to FDA Regulations. Other companies do not need to know about such requirements, but have their own regulations to abide by.

Here is a list of a several different types of meetings. They help determine the style and the focus of the meeting. The meeting planner should be familiar with what the expectations would be for each particular type of meeting:

  • Product Launch Meeting
  • Investigator Meeting
  • Plan of Action Meeting
  • Medical Meeting
  • Training Meeting
  • Team Building
  • Incentive Meeting
  • Continuing Education Certifications (CE, CEU)
  • Train the Trainer
  • Advisory Board Meeting
  • Road Shows
  • Stand Alone Meetings (SAMs)
  • Seminars and Symposia

Why do we need a meeting planner?

Once the purpose of a meeting is defined, the next step is to determine how the message is to be delivered to the group attending. That sets the criteria or what the Scope of the Meeting is and it is the meeting planner’s job to make sure all decisions and arrangements made are set within that scope.

There are many aspects to the planning. Here are selected areas of responsibility that fall under Meeting Program Management:

  • Sourcing Hotel properties
  • Contracting Hotels
  • Logistics
  • Communications
  • Program Scheduling
  • Registration and Attendee management
  • Hotel Room Blocks and Attrition
  • Meeting Room Set Ups
  • Audio Visual and Staging
  • Onsite management
  • Third Party Vendor contracting
  • Budget
  • Hotel Master Account
  • Food & Beverage
  • Ground Transportation
  • Security
  • Signage
  • Decor

Will there be any off site activities (away from the Hotel) like a Dine Around, Fun at a Theme Park, Museum, Sporting Event?

How do I get a good Hotel Room Rate and why do the Rates keep changing?

The rates are mostly based on “what the market will bear” but other reasons also factor in. First, if you are not representing a Group and you ask for a Room Rate, you will be told the daily “Rack Rate”, which is quoted to people who do not have a negotiated rate or a Friends and Family discounts.

When selecting a property, the time of year is key. Every property has seasonal rates that reflect their slow period or busy period. If you can book a meeting during the hotels slower period you will get a better rate (e.g. Arizona in July, most anywhere during Christmas week). Also, learn if the hotel is busier or slower on the weekends or weekdays and adjust the dates of your meeting accordingly.

If you are representing a Group that needs a large room block, that is leverage for you to use during the negotiating period. If you do a lot of meetings in a year with the same Hotel chain, it may be advisable to negotiate a standing contract with the National Sales Office with preferred concessions already built into the frame of the agreement.

What is Strategic Meeting Management (SMM)?

By industry standards the definition of Strategic Meeting Management is:

“Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) is a disciplined approach to managing enterprise-wide meeting and event activities, processes, suppliers and data in order to achieve measurable business objectives that align with an organizations’ strategic goals/vision, and delivers value in the form of quantitative savings, risk mitigation, and service quality.”

Simply put, it is an “accountability and value” business model that is now commonly being implemented. Meeting Planners are now required to have a much more hands on approach to managing all key financial components to what makes up a meeting. Some key components are listed here:

  • Reassess senior management meeting and event vision, goals and objectives
  • Identify enterprise wide meeting and event planners, administrators and stakeholders (and their meeting activity / processes / goals / skill sets)
  • Meeting needs assessment / meeting approval process / master meeting and event calendar
  • Hotel site search / evaluation / value based negotiations process
  • Custom hotel contract process (addresses all hotel contract components, value added concessions, hotel fees and surcharges, performance clauses and legal department liability language)
  • Meeting and event planning processes, procedures, attendee communications / learning, on-site meeting management
  • Preferred Supplier Program (services, pricing, evaluation, agreements, SMM outcomes)
  • Hotel / supplier deposit and payment process / reconciliation
  • Meeting budgets / variance (by meeting)
  • Transparent metrics to define and measure success (standard and custom financial reports, including cost savings / risk reduction report, by meeting and enterprise wide spend breakdown).
  • SMM implementation / compliance / training / collaboration / stakeholder feedback
  • Post meeting evaluation / learner outcomes / meeting value (ROI / ROE)
  • Robust technology that drives SMM (24/7 access to current / past meeting activity / management and financial reports)


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Meeting tips

TIP: It is always vital to imagine how the meeting is going to seem like from the Attendee point of view. A Call to Action, Breakout sessions, Training will be better received if we know what the Attendee is experiencing.

TIP: A successful meeting/event can be intricate but it does not have to be complicated.

TIP: Price first – Offer later. No Client likes to be sold on a great idea only to find out later that the cost far exceeded what they are willing to pay. Never misjudge the exuberance and enthusiasm of the moment. It is always about the bottom line

TIP: Every aspect of the logistical arrangements, whether it be flights, ground transfers, off site events etc. – always goes back to the purpose/reason for the meeting and taking care of the Attendees.

TIP: Arrange the activity according to the Client request but at the same time do the “What If?” with your vendor. What else can you do? What if it rains? What if we change venues, etc?

TIP: The most important thing – always – is the meeting space – do not skimp or make do. The entire purpose of the meeting happens in that space

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