ConventionSouth

JUN 2012

ConventionSouth magazine is the leading resource for meeting planners who book all types of events, conventions, conferences and group travel in the south.

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Home Planning Directory SMERF PLANNING GUIDE Planner Resources Meeting Site Showcase PLANNER ADVICE: Protect Your Staff From The 'Don't Bother Me' Syndrome I first started speaking professionally in 1980 and have been to hundreds of meetings over the past three decades. Things weren't so immediate then, there wasn't any e-mail, Internet or cell phones. I can remember plenty of meeting mishaps caused by the lack of communication like the time the speaker before me covered the same subject I was hired to. I quickly adapted and re-crafted my topic. Today, things are totally different. I can go to the client's online site and learn just about everything I need to know about the client and the event. I copy the info without errors and stick it in my file. And, we register, pay and get the event's agenda all online. That's a wonderful improvement in service. It saves time, lowers errors and costs less in the long run for the event staff. But, there's a prob- lem with how we communicate today. Perhaps because everything has become so easily accessi- ble, a "don't bother me" syndrome has devel- oped and we neglect personal service. But, some of us still want to deal with people, not computers, and there are some questions/re- quests that can't be answered on a form. In theory, giving attendees the opportunity to get info online means that your staff has addi- tional time to discuss more important issues on By Ralph Hood the telephone. But it seldom works that way. You may think your staff is immune, but it's easy to become accustomed to attendees serving them- selves online. Then, it becomes all too easy to as- sume that anyone who wants to get information by telephone is either dumb, lazy or way behind the times. Instead, we have to guard against slipping into the don't-call-us-get-it-online syndrome. As you progress to more online service, explain to your staff that it is not to replace the tele- phone. There will be certain old-time, valuable members who will resist the move to online self-service. They want to talk to you and we 24 ConventionSouth JUNE 2012 www.con v entionsouth.com

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