1306 PYM toolboxHave you heard people say they’re a right-brain or left-brain thinker? Right-brainers tend to be creative and instinctual, left-brainers more analytical and logical. That’s how “Beauty and the Brain” was born. James Rota’s creativity meshes with Christy Lamagna’s strategic thinking to bring a well-rounded approach to events. These columns are designed to highlight both sides of the planning process. 

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From the Beauty: And so it was written. Many, many years ago, before meeting planning was even considered a profession, fundamental skill sets were required in order to successfully plan meetings and events. The powers that be came together and, hence, the Ten Commandments of Meeting Planning were formed:

  1. Thou Shalt Be Organized
  2. Thou Shalt Have Patience
  3. Remember Thy Meeting Vendors
  4. Thou Shalt Assume Nothing
  5. Honor Thy Attendee’s Experience
  6. Thou Shalt Be Methodical and Meticulous
  7. Thou Shalt Be an Effective Communicator
  8. Thou Shalt Always See the Goal
  9. Honor Thy Budget
  10. Thou Shalt Be Prepared

Each commandment works in tandem with the others and is integral to exceeding expectations. Today let’s address Commandment No. 10.

Our job requires us to not only have a Plan A and a Plan B but often a Plan C … just in case! This makes the hospitality binder an important part of your toolbox. It contains crucial event-specific information any attendee might need. The perfect binder would include a series of tabs:

  • Emergency services such as the closest hospitals and their specialties, urgent-care facilities, 24-hour pharmacies and emergency evacuation guidelines.
  • Property and area maps, car rentals, taxi and transportation companies, shopping options, a list of restaurants by cuisine, the nearest ATM machines and/or banks, and houses of worship and their schedules.
  • The nearest print shop, office supply chain and express shipping carriers.
  • If you’re entertaining international visitors, contact information for foreign consulates.

Always do your research. Always call your venue and CVB, which are happy to share that information with you. The perfect hospitality binder is a thing of beauty.

From the Brain: Hospitality binders can be a planner’s best friend, so why doesn’t everyone use them? Maybe they just don’t think about it. Once you do use one, you’ll never arrive on-site without one again.

Make sure you have the address, hours, phone number and, if close enough, walking directions to all the places is the tabs that James suggested. Have driving directions as well. And know the average cab fare to each destination.

Create a log for all issues — illnesses, lost-and-found items, inside information.

If you find an unclaimed item, log it then turn it over to venue security. Check with security at the end of each day to make sure everything is picked up. If it isn’t, send a group text/email or include the information in the morning’s housekeeping notes.

If you have pop-up meeting rooms, keep a log for each one. Note what time it’s booked and when it will be open; the AV capability it has; who’s using the room and who their guests are. When people look for the meeting, you’ll know where to send them.

Have detailed local information at the ready. What and where are the closest restaurants and bars? Is there a jogging path nearby? Is there an attraction worth visiting? Ask the CVB for maps and a few postcards. You’d be surprised how many people will take the cards to mail home. And maps are just plain handy.

Ask the hotel concierge for intel that you won’t find in a Web search: the best Italian restaurant (not necessarily the most popular), for example. A concierge can save you countless hours.

Bottom line: Attendees look to us for everything. It doesn’t matter that we don’t live in that city. We must know the area as if we do. Use this opportunity to impress and amaze by having more information than attendees’ ask for. It doesn’t just help them, it helps us, too. When the inevitable emergency strikes, when someone has to hit the hardware store for duct tape or an attendee needs antacids, you’ll know where to go.

Want forms or templates for a well-stocked hospitality binder? Email  [email protected].