It is not always easy to be totally self-sufficient when organizing a large and complicated event. Nor is it an easy feat to coordinate several projects for various clients, all happening on the same day, unless you give in to hiring additional staff for the duration of the projects. There are a lot of independent meeting planners who like to work on contracts as it gives them time do other things, and they are not tied down to a full-time job.
When a huge opportunity to produce a mega event presents itself, and the thought of doing it all one self becomes unrealistic, why not team up with other experienced planners to get the business? When you think that there might be six other companies bidding on the same project whose staff are all putting in an inordinate number of hours researching and preparing the best possible ‘blueprint’, why not join forces and share in the glory? The work can be equally divided and the time spent will be only a fraction compared to doing it all on one’s own.
CanSPEP (The Canadian Society of Professional Event Planners), created over 15 years ago, is the most important grouping of independent event/meeting/conference/incentive planners in Canada. Over the years many of the planners have joined forces on projects that were considered daunting had they tackled them on their own. Planners belonging to this organization range from newly graduated to highly experienced. Through networking sessions, monthly meetings and events, it is easy to find kindred spirits with whom one feels comfortable and at ease working on a shared project. It is in everyone’s interest to pool their efforts to produce an amazing event.
The same goes for large and complicated events requiring similar expertise. How can one let go of some crucial elements if the collaborators are not on the same wave length? The best way to find an ideal partner is to consult with other planners who know of others wishing to collaborate.
In the past, I have found that bringing in a group of experienced planners to help me with some of my more intricate events (i.e. 5,000 person events spanning several weeks) really eased the strain and reduced the number of sleepless nights. It is impossible to do everything yourself especially if time is limited and resources few. I always ensure that the contract people I work with are specialized in the areas where I need collaboration and most importantly that they enjoy the work, get on well with everyone and are team players. They also need to have the same drive as me to ensure that the project goes well.
Some areas in the past where I have found their assistance invaluable are:
- On-site registration
- Food and beverage selection and coordination
- Technical requirements and room set-ups
- Creative brainstorming
- Print material and signage
- Media relations and PR
- Décor arrangements (centrepieces, flower arrangements)
- Gifts and promotional items
- On-site multi-lingual staffing
The assistance gives me more time to concentrate on the overall project, the budget and client relations. Most of my contract staff work on site, and we find that this generates a lot of excitement as they are able to see the fruits of their labours and share in the success of the event. I also hire on-site staff that are very experienced just picking up a file and running with it. These people are invaluable and are often referred to as TDs (Trip Directors). I am then able to better oversee my events and meet regularly with my clients, knowing that all the details are being looked after. It is also easier to look after any unforeseen challenges that always seem to crop up, no matter how much preparation has gone into the organization, without having to pull staff away from the tasks at hand.
I have collaborated on events with other planners and found it a very rewarding and enriching experience. Because I am fluent in French, I have been able to assist in programs requiring French-language services and have also provided liaison in French-speaking environments. It is all about service, and the end client is very appreciative.