Small Market Meetings

MAR 2017

The Newspaper for Smaller Cities, Facilities and Planners.

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March 2017 11 Very Important Meetings Photos courtesy Visit Fairfax A small group enjoys a VIP reception on the lawn at George Washington's Mount Vernon in Virginia. VIP and executive events require special attention P lanning a meeting for a VIP or executive group can be a stress- ful endeavor. In many cases, high-end clients operate on a dif- ferent plane of existence, requiring personal pickups, special menus and other immediate services, and planners must understand that lifestyle to meet their expectations and needs. To shed some insight on the subject, we spoke with two planning experts: Kris Shea, vice president of The Juice Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, and Dean Miller, national sales manager at Visit Fairfax, Virginia. Here's what they had to say. Ask a Lot of Questions More than anything, knowing your client is key. Age, gender and origin are all important factors to consider, as well as the nature of the group's industry. To understand their background and preferences, planners should find out what clients have done in the past and what features they liked or disliked. Sometimes, customizing the experience means knowing the right brand of soap to put in the room or what drink to provide in the transportation vehicle. "Every meeting group has some level of wanting to feel like a VIP," said Shea, "so you have to figure out what the expectations are." As planners work on developing original concepts for activities and entertainment, it can be helpful to ask clients if there is anything they have always wanted to do or whether they have any particular inter- ests. Don't Make Them Wait Planning for VIP groups involves much more than booking an expensive hotel and arranging reservations at an upscale restaurant. Planners must see that every detail transpires smoothly, from pickup at the airport to presenting slideshows at the meeting itself. "The thing about working with VIPs that you've got to remember above all else is that they do not like to wait," said Miller. When he worked in the hotel industry, Miller heard numerous stories from travel agents that worked with CEOs and other high-profile clients. They would have to book multiple plane tickets throughout a given afternoon so that no matter what time the client arrived at the airport, a ticket and seat would be waiting. Afterward, the travel agency would By Savannah Osbourn

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