I have been producing events professionally since 1970, and I have learned a lot in that time, but there is one thing I still do not understand: Why do so many companies that have no professional, internal event staff or conference bureau prefer to have major company conferences and celebrations handled in-house?
I am not a CEO or CFO at one of these companies, but if I was, I would certainly challenge the managers who make such decisions. Why?
Number one, because internal administrative people, particularly those with a lot of seniority, cost more per hour in salary and benefits than typical agency CMPs (Certified Meeting Planners).
But even if cost per hour were comparable (and, believe me, it’s not), it still makes more sense to go outside for another very important reason: an experienced meeting planner who does meetings every day can get the job done in fewer hours than even a very competent admin who plans events only occasionally.
Not only that, a full time meeting planner will have a solid network of supplier and venue contacts and plenty of negotiation experience. An admin who only occasionally plans meetings will not. To put it another way, who is more likely to negotiate a favorable hotel contract for you, a CMP or the Manufacturing VP’s staff supervisor?
And let’s not forget about quality! CMPs create events that measure up to professional industry standards. Does a Marketing or HR administrative assistant who must deal with the complexities of marketing and HR every day have time to think about what the proper ratio of people to square footage of floor space for a reception might be? Or what size rear projection screen to order for an audience of 500 seated chevron style in a convention hall? Maybe some do, but more likely, most don’t.
Yes, if I were a CEO or CFO at a company holding a significant sized meeting produced internally, I would definitely ask my managers why they decided to do it themselves. I would ask: “Who was doing Sarah’s or Sam’s regular job while they planned the conference?”
Some might argue that many meetings, particularly internal employee and management gatherings, deal with confidential information, or that “our company has unique personnel, culture, policies, and values that an outside agency just can’t handle.”
To the first objection, I offer two words: “Confidentiality Agreement.” To the second, I say: “Are you kidding?” CMPs are pros. They can and do work with any number of unique organizations very successfully every day.
But if you are still not certain, Mr. CEO, that an agency is up to the challenge of serving your very special people, pick a good agency, break it in over a year or so, train it, and then, after you sign it to a multi-year contract, you’ll never have to worry again!
Like I say, I am not a CEO, and I dropped out of an MBA program after three days, but if I can see the cost/benefit advantage of hiring top flight agency professionals to do the essential job of meeting planning, why can’t a guy who graduated from a Stanford, Harvard, Michigan, Texas, or any number of other great business schools?
Is there something I’m missing here? What do you think? Please help me out.
Executive Producer/Creative Director
Special D Events, Inc.