10 Tips for Executive Administrative Professionals Who Want to Rock the World of Meeting Planning


Talk about a professional that has been “re-invented” over the past several decades! Today's admin professionals are highly educated, highly skilled, and often manage all of the essential departments of the office. Our “mature admins” recall the importance of “soft skills” and would often be evaluated on appearance (dresses with nylons and heels), well-modulated voices, with little potential for promotion. At present, most administrative professions have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree and the expectations for young newcomers to the field often include HR functions, social media, office operations, and event planning.

Admin professionals are always eager to learn something new, master their craft, and add value to their position within the company. Perhaps that’s the reason why many gravitate toward the challenges of planning offsite meetings. Whether you are staying on site or perhaps venturing off to a hotel, restaurant or conference center, you could find yourself in uncharted waters where the stakes are very high. There is little room for hiccups, and your leadership team is spending a lot of money to take the team off site.

Below are ten pointers for you to consider when choosing an off-site meeting venue:

1. Find your “third place”

Find a location that matches the culture of your team so they are 100% comfortable; not your home, not your office, but that place in between where you can let your hair down. Similar to the TV show, “Cheers”, where “Everybody knows your name!”

2. Jackets not required (or are they?)

Is your meeting casual or formal? The trend is for business casual but it’s important to have advanced conversations with your guests to know the proper attire. If there is a team building element to your program, special clothing might be warranted.

3. No muss, no fuss food and beverage service

Coordinating food deliveries for an onsite meeting usually falls in your lap, and you are at the mercy of your off-premise caterer. Almost all meeting venues have their own catering service; however you should absolutely sample the food before booking. Problem solved!

4. Yawn. Tap Pencil. Doodle. Stretch. Repeat

Do you get bored easily? If you keep on doing the “same old at the same old” you might need some physical and mental stimulation currently not available within the four walls of your office.

Meeting in a new environment can help freshen up ideas and creativity.

5. Everything under one roof

Seek a venue where you can maximize your formal meeting time as well as leisure time. Hotels in the city have a built in nightlife however retreat properties offer everything under one roof including hotel, restaurant, bar, conference space, banquet space, team building, and gym.

6. Savvy venues have meeting “coaches”

Meeting planning is just a small fraction of your day to day responsibilities so it’s very helpful to have a trusted coach on the other end of the phone to assist and coach you through planning your event.Great coaches can create a story and timeline of your team’s experience when you are on property.

7. Do Not Disturb

Have you ever heard your boss say, “We’re taking our meeting off site so we do not get interrupted?”If you are in an off-site conference room and your laptop and cell phone are not on, you have officially displayed your own personal, “Do Not Disturb” sign!

8. Stay on Budget

Remember the coach that I introduced you to? That’s the same coach that watches your budget like a hawk to make sure that your numbers stay where they should be. You are in charge of your checkbook; the venue just tells you how much things cost.

9. BEO’s (Banquet Event Orders) Your new best friend.

This might be one of the most important acronyms you will ever need to know so please pay attention. Your BEO is the bible for your event that outlines every specific element of your program in detail so whatever was agreed upon is fully provided by our operation’s staff.

10. Keep in touch

Rumor has it that you are a stellar communicator otherwise I doubt that you would be an Administrative Professional. Demand that your venue keep up their end of the communication partnership pre, during, and post event. Hopefully you will work with that vendor again because understanding your needs is essential to building a long term relationship.

Laura Marra, Corporate Planner at Normandy Farm Hotel and Conference Center, has years of experience coaching administrative professionals through the steps necessary to ensure a flawless meeting. “Typically I meet with the admin’s a few weeks prior to their event and draft their BEO’s. I assist them through the planning process and provide recommendations to ensure an entertaining and successful event. Often the actual meeting planning is straightforward, however the ancillary activities such as meals and team building require a bit more attention to detail. Many of our clients might be overwhelmed with the number of options that we offer at the farm and I try to laser focus on the individual needs of each group to ensure a good balance between work and play.”

In conclusion, I think that you are your company’s secret weapon, and the glue that keeps it all together. As you continue to expand your expertise in off-site meeting planning, you have earned the title, “Epoxy with Moxey”, or the “high performance adhesive with a fighting spirit (it’s like the glue that bonds on steroids)!

Located just 25 minutes from Center City Philadelphia and situated in the heart of Blue Bell, Pa.,Normandy Farm Hotel and Conference Center is more than a meticulously restored American landmark—it's a fully wired, high-tech hospitality venue. Relax on our grand terrace, sip a cocktail in America's oldest silo, play a challenging game of golf on our championship course, plan an event with us or dine on our delectable farm-to-table cuisine. It all adds up to One Historic Experience.

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