As meeting professionals, we love to plan every detail of our event. We know our targets, we scrutinize our attendees, and we consider every possibility before it happens.
I have changed the setup of a meeting space at the last minute based on the number of attendees: not too empty, not too crowded. I have been consumed by the usual questions: how many gallons of coffee vs. decaf to order? Has the wine been picked up; will it meet budget and taste expectations? is the beer cold enough? Do we have enough bread for breakfast? What type of yogurt will be served at the buffet? I can go on and on… planning.
I remember the day my 45-passenger bus did not show up for a city tour and my extremely professional tour guide organized a walking tour on the spot. We were lucky it was a beautiful day in Boston and our attendees enjoyed walking after a full day of sitting in a conference room. I remember that perplexing and anxious feeling when I found the client’s “welcome desk” placed directly next to their competitor’s desk and I needed to figure out a new arrangement on the fly. I am still slightly distressed from the night the very well-known restaurant in New York was not ready for my party of 50 and I asked the bus driver to take the longest possible route to the destination, giving the restaurant enough time to get ready. If you are like me, we reflect our professions onto our lives as well. We scrupulously plan our next move well in advance and have clear in our minds the paths we want to take in both our professional and personal lives. Despite our best planning efforts, today we have entered an unplanned age of uncertainty
As John Lennon sang in Beautiful Boy, “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Meeting planners are used to obstacles. We always find an alternate path to our goal: a successful event.
We all have our theories about the “new normal”, but we need to embrace that uncertainty and approach our future as if it were a blank canvas. It is entirely possible that our practical knowledge will not be helpful for the future. Yet, as meeting planners, our versatility, our ability to problem-solve, and our resourcefulness is unmatched!
Let us reinvent our profession from the ground up. We will learn new ways to manage events while we adapt to new scenarios. We cannot fight against what we cannot change, but we can refocus on the unknown—sometimes the greatest moments in life are completely and totally unexpected!
~Ivana Esposito, CMP
Executive Vice President of Meetings and Convention Services, ABTS Convention Services