Archive for the ‘ meeting planner ’ Category

I LOVE Meeting Planners

Saint_Valentines_Day_Heart_and_roses_for_Valentine_s_Day_013128_I know it may sound cliché, but I really do “heart” meeting planners! I wish I could send each of you a big box of chocolates and nice bouquet of flowers for Valentines Day. In lieu of such extravagances, please accept this VALENTINE from me to you:

Value-Add: I add value to your life. Let me take on the task of finding the perfect place for your  meetings, leaving you time to do what you do best – plan your meetings!

Attentive: I promise to listen to you and pay careful attention to you and your organization’s needs. Each meeting is unique; I will find the right place for your distinctive needs.

Loyal: I’m yours. I won’t let you down.

Energetic: Since I love what I do – and I love helping meeting planners – I have plenty of energy and then some to help you shine!

Noteworthy: What you do is noteworthy, your organization should recognize this and I promise to help you create and keep your noteworthy status.

Trustworthy: The information you share with me is privileged and I will honor this at all times.

Innovative: I am dedicated to keeping up with trends in the meetings industry, hotels, menus, technology and more – keep an eye on my blogs and I will keep you up to date.

Nice: Yes, I am a real nice gal. When you call me, you will always get friendly.

Entertaining: Oh, yes, I am also pretty darn funny. Need a good laugh, just give me a call : )

So, Dear Meeting Planner Valentine, won’t you be mine? Happy Valentine’s Day to you; may your day be filled with chocolates, flowers and candlelit dinners for two. And if you need a “partner” to help you find the perfect site for your meeting attendees, add me to your speed dial; 636-797-3405.

*Thank you to Zastavki for the image!

Tip-Top Laptop

Business travelers have laptops. Business travelers rely on those laptops to keep them connected with their lives. The whole idea of the laptop becoming dysfunctional during a trip can strike fear into the most fearless of flyers. So, here are some tips on keeping your laptop in tip-top shape.

  1. happy-laptopDon’t put it on your lap. I know, weird right? It is called a “lap” top for goodness sake. However, your laptop will be better off on a smooth surface, allowing for that ever-important airflow.
  2. Don’t leave it plugged in at all times. Let’s say you have a stint of non-travel, but you are so accustomed to plugging in while not traveling that suddenly your laptop is never unplugged. Not ideal. Unplug it a few times each week. Think of it as exercise for your battery.
  3. Power down a few times a week. Though it is tempting to keep your laptop on, it is a good idea to shut it down.  Just like you, your laptop needs some downtime.
  4. While traveling, keep your laptop with you at all times. I know you know this, but we have all been in situations where we are just going to “leave it there for a second to go get a latte.” Don’t. Take it with you.
  5. If you have sensitive data on your laptop, encrypt it. For an on-the-go solution, check out TrueCrypt.
  6. Back up your data. You know this too, but do you do it? Buy an external hard drive and back it up once a week.
  7. No updating or installing while traveling. Sometimes those updates and installations do not go as predicted. Save such activities for when you have time to deal with any bugs that may come your way.

If you have any other awesome happy laptop hints, please do share them with me on my Facebook Page!!!

12 Days of Meeting Planning

On the 1st day of the meeting, my boss came to me.  “We need coffee for entire board room!”

On the 2nd day of the meeting, my boss came to me.  “Where are my notes? and coffee for entire board room!”

On the 3rd day of the meeting, my boss came to me.  “I need 3 dozen copies, where are my notes and coffee for entire board room!”

On the 4th day of the meeting, my boss came to me.  “4 board members leaving, need 3 dozen copies, where are my notes and coffee for entire board room!”

On the 5th day of the meeting, my boss came to me.  “We need 5 more meeting rooms!  4 board members leaving, 3 dozen copies, where are my notes and coffee for entire board room!”

On the 6th day of the meeting, my boss came to me.  “We need 6 more microphones NOW, and 5 more meeting rooms! 4 board members leaving, 3 dozen copies, where are my notes and coffee for entire board room!”

On the 7th day of the meeting, my boss came to me. “General Session needs more chairs, we need 6 microphones NOW, and 5 more meeting rooms! 4 board members leaving, 3 dozen copies, where are my notes and coffee for entire board room!”

On the 8th day of the meeting, my boss came to me.  “2 speakers are not coming, General Session needs more chairs, we need 6 microphones NOW, 5 more meeting rooms! 4 board members leaving, 3 dozen copies, where are my notes and coffee for entire board room!”

On the 9th day of the meeting, my boss came to me.  “9 slides are missing, speakers are not coming, General Session needs more chairs, 6 more microphones NOW, 5 more meeting rooms! 4 board members leaving, 3 dozen copies, where are my notes and coffee for entire board room!”

On the 10th day of the meeting, my boss came to me. “General session still needs MORE chairs, 9 slides are missing, speakers are not coming, General Session needs more chairs, (seriously, WHERE are those chairs??)  6 more microphones NOW, 5 more meeting rooms! 4 board members left, 3 dozen copies, where are my notes and coffee for entire board room!”

On the 11th day of the meeting, my boss came to me.  “Get Exhibitor Booths torn down NOW, General session needs MORE chairs, 9 slides are missing, speakers are not coming, General Session needs more chairs, 6 more microphones NOW, 5 more meeting rooms! 4 board members gone, 3 dozen copies, where are my notes and coffee for entire board room!”

On the 12th day of the meeting, this thought came to me:  “I’m totally exhausted!  But the meeting’s over!  It was very successful!  Because I used HelmsBriscoe! (shameless plug),  Found 2 different speakers, had great food & beverage, fixed the power point,  got the chairs in time, attendees are gone, booths are on the truck, I’ve paid all the bills. Now it’s time to plan the one for next year!!!!!!”

This Takes the Cupcake

The setting: You are at a late afternoon meeting and the host offers a plate of cupcakes. The one you choose reveals much about you.

So which do you choose? Your choices are:

cupcakes (2)

            • Chocolate
            • Vanilla
            • S’mores
            • Raspberry Lemon Cream
            • Red Velvet
            • Carrot


If you chose Chocolate you are not afraid to take chances. You are the planner that is up with the trends, you’re willing to give what-is-new-and-hot a go! Your colleagues keep a close eye on what you do as they find you to be a respected predictor of what they should pay attention to and what they may as well ignore.

If you chose Vanilla you are a traditionalist. You have a perfect formula for your meeting’s success and will only stray when something has proven itself over and over again. You are a “count on” individual that is deeply trusted.

If you chose S’mores you can do a little bit of everything. Sure, you can plan the meeting with your eyes closed, but you can also create a logo for the event, write up copy for the agenda, and even design a respectable web page to market to the masses. You are a bit of everything in one scrumptious package.

If you chose Raspberry Lemon Cream you are spunky and colorful. This is reflected in everything you do; from your dress to the bands that rock your events to the décor and ambience you create. You can transform any space into a whole new realm, and everyone is pretty much guaranteed to experience a memorable and fun twist from the norm.

If you chose Red Velvet you are passionate. You will only do what you can stand behind with a solid stance. Your success is imminent, as you will only do what you have a passion to do and it is evident in every detail of your meeting and planning.

If you chose Carrot you are common sense and practical. Rarely if ever will your events go over budget, your events are solid and sound; you will forego any and all fluff when it comes to delivering a meeting that is all about business and getting down to the issues at hand.

So, what Cupcake are you? Tell me on my Facebook page!

Oh, and of course, there’s an app you should check out as well : )

*Thank you to the Cupcake Activist for the image!

No Oops For You

When it comes to meeting planning, there are way too many places where mistakes can be made. With the myriad of details involved, mistakes are bound to happen at times. Even though, and this is fact, meeting planners are closer to super heroes than human. Let’s look at some common mistakes, place them in that ultra-awareness of yours, and see if we cannot avoid them.

  1. Meeting Objective – what is it? If you are not sure what the objective of the meeting is, then it is a  bit difficult to plan.  Know the reason for the meeting, the goal of the meeting, and the why of the meeting inside and out. Some companies are not aware that their meeting planner should be involved every step of the way; from conception through to post-meeting follow ups and analytics.
  2. Checking References – there is too much at stake! One of the most difficult meeting planning truths is the fact that we must rely on too many others to make everything work. Oh, if we could just do it all on our own, then we would not need worry! Unfortunately, we do have to rely on staff members (our own and the property’s), entertainment, outside vendors and more. Have those involved provide references and check them!
  3. Audio Visual Checklist – get one from everyone! Anyone who is doing any type of presentation is going to need some sort of A/V. Make sure that the property’s A/V Department, or whomever you hire, is aware of who needs what, when and where, as well as any equipment changes that may need to take place in between presentations. Some presenters will put your mind at ease and tell you that you need not worry about them as they will use their own laptop, and bring along their own connections; think twice before allowing this. If possible, have them send their presentation to you and put all presentations for any given room on one laptop so you can use the same connection throughout.
  4. Market to Your People Where They Are – know where they hang out. Once you have all your meeting ducks in a row, you need to market it and market it in all the right places. Where is your audience, what trade mags do they read, what web sites do they often view, what social media platforms are they utilizing – meet them often in all the right places and you will fill your meeting attendee quota for sure!
  5. Providing the Right Ambience for Each Event – no bright lights at the after party! Think through each event as if you are an attendee. Does the room set up, the lighting, décor and more fit the “feel” of the event. Make sure it all makes sense, or your audience will have a hard time paying attention and staying engaged.
  6. Property and Contract Mishaps – oh my! Here is where it can all just fall apart right before your eyes.  Your meeting must fit with the property from the get go, the property is more or less a structure with definable boundaries – you cannot change room sizes, location, etc. Make sure the property you choose has exactly what you need. Then there are those wordy contracts! Failure to fully protect your company, your event, and your attendees could easily spell disaster. If you want some peace of mind in this area, I know just who to call! Me! I know properties worldwide, I negotiate on behalf of my clients every day, I have read more contracts than you can shake a stick at (not sure why anyone is shaking anything, especially sticks, at contracts, but you get the idea –lol!). Call me, Jill Stone, at 636-797-3405 and I will assist you in finding the perfect property at a price that makes sense with a contract that will help you to sleep soundly before, during and after your event.

*Thank you to The Blue Skunk Blog for the image.

More Haunted Hotels

Last year we peeked in on hotels that have been deemed haunted! This year I thought I’d scare up a few more to share with you – will you book with any of them? I dare you ; )

The Hotel Alex Johnson is located in Rapid City, South Dakota and has a legendary history for being haunted. It is surrounded by the Black Hills, so named by the Lakota, due to the hills’ dark appearance from a distance. But it is the “Lady in White” that is the most notorious haunter of this hotel. It is said she jumped out of the window to her death, from room 812, however those that know her best called it foul play. Either way, she hangs out there to this day.

Dalhousie Castle in Edinburgh is an upscale luxury hotel and spa. It is said that Sir Alexander Ramsay roams about; he was starved to death in 1342 in Hermitage Castle by William Douglas. Also, the ghost of Lady Catherine, known as the ‘Grey Lady’, has been seen around the turrets and in the dungeon of the castle.

Hotel Galvez in Galveston, Texas is known for the ghost of a young woman which walks the halls of the fifth floor. It is said that she is distraught over the loss of her fiancé, who perished at sea. Room #500 would be your best bet for meeting up with her, though it has been noted by staff and guests that she is a rather active spirit on the entire 5th floor.

Hotel Burchianti is located in Florence, Italy. If you check into the Fresco Room, you may get a bit more than you bargained for, there are multiple reports of sightings of a pink, translucent figure. As well there have been sightings of a young girl giggling in the halls, an early morning maid that travels from room to room and an elderly woman sitting in a chair knitting. Perhaps the most distressing reports are by those that were awakened in the middle of the night with the feeling that someone was pressing on their chest and they were unable to breathe!

Langham Hotel located in London has guests seeing a man in military dress, presumed to be that of a German Prince, standing by the window on the fourth floor. It is said the Prince jumped from the window. But this is not all, there are several more; a doctor who murdered his wife, then killed himself while on honeymoon, a wounded man who hangs out in the hallways, a footman in powdered wig, a ghost that has been reported as shaking and tipping guests from the bed in room 333 (strangely, these reports only seem to come around in October), even Napolean III who likes to hang out in the basement.

Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, Massachusetts has a reporting of  “phantom hands in Room 325 and the spectral woman on the sixth floor.” The General Manager denies it, saying that even TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society and stars of Ghost Hunters) investigated and didn’t find anything. If you ever go, let me know if you experience a haunting!

Bourbon Orleans in the French Quarter of New Orleans has no issues with sharing their ghost stories. They talk about the Confederate soldier, children and nuns, and the haunted Orleans Ballroom at their site.

Scary hotels aside, I am happy to help you find the rooms you need for you next meeting, be them haunted or not. Call me at 636-797-3405!

*Thanks to HotelChatter for the image!

One on One with My Client, Dewayne! Part 2

This article is  a continuation of the article that appeared in a recent HelmsBriscoe newsletter. I shared the first part in my blog last week, so if you missed it, please be sure to read it now. Here is the remaining part of the article:

When asked if there are any distinctive qualities to the site selection process for SWCS (Soil and Water Conservation Society), Jill says, “One of the more important factors is actually near and dear to my heart, their meetings are environmentally conscience. The hotel property must have a green policy; this includes recycling, placing water pitchers in the back of the room as opposed to every single table, offering to wash linens on a less than daily basis, and so on.”

Of the RFP process, Jill says, “Before government employee attendance became a factor, I created the RFPs on my own. Since we are now in a state of adjustment, we’re proceeding with a bit of caution, so I do currently need to look to Dewayne’s so I can keep up with all the changes.”  Even so, Jill does do most of the negotiating on behalf of SWCS. She puts the number at “99.5% of the negotiating.”

As far as site visits are concerned, Jill says, “Most of the time there is no need for me to be there, Dewayne handles this end on his own.” She adds, “I do, however, attend some of the programs. I want to make sure to familiarize myself with all my clients’ events so that I may gain a clearer understanding on how the space is allocated, and if the space works well for their meetings and unique needs. This allows me to fine-tune the site selection process and RFPs for their future meetings.”

Dewayne expressed again and again about how Jill truly does go “above and beyond” for him. Jill says, “We are in the hospitality business, so we tend to be hospitable.” She continues, “I do whatever it takes and then some to get my client’s what they need.  I feel responsible for their meetings, and sometimes will go back and forth many times while negotiating on behalf of the client.”

Jill also counts her dedication to staying on top of what is going on in the industry as part of her service. “I share trending information via all my social media outlets! I make sure my clients know what is on the horizon and how these changes will specifically effect them and their meetings.” As far as what she is seeing right now, “Hotel rates are going up due to more transient travel, contract signing time limits are shortened, hotels cannot hold space anymore – there is more demand, but the supply has barely changed over the past four years. Due to these rising rates, I provide a necessary service for my clients; I can guide them and make sure we find the best possible solutions for all their meetings.”

Meetings and business aside, Jill and Dewayne both feel that they have also found a true friendship. As Jill says, “We swap family stories all the time, I look forward to hearing his wonderful stories about his wife Amy and son, Lucas. He in turn hears about the ever growing family that my husband Rick and I have. We have three sons, two grandchildren and a third on the way!” Dewayne shared that they are also Facebook friends, they have been on several site visits together and have attended a number of the same industry events. Dewayne says, “Jill is fun; she is witty, laughs a lot and is one of those people that can find humor in almost everything!” Jill describes Dewayne as, “The nicest guy I know!”

About the relationship overall, Dewayne sums it up nicely, “If we did as many meetings together as Jill has pairs of shoes, we would be unstoppable. We could lead HelmsBriscoe!”

If you want to connect with and learn more about my world, please feel free to come over and check me out on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest!