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latest issue

Latest Issue

Tips for the Accidental Meeting Planner

Recently, Marriott Bonvoy noticed that many of their event clients were “accidental planners,” internal employees, such as executive assistants, HR coordinators and marketing professionals whose main roles and background did not necessarily include events.

To help these clients navigate the meeting landscape, Marriott canvassed associates from its portfolio of Canadian hotels in Canada to offer their advice to accidental planners:

“I encourage anyone planning a meeting to be curious and always look for new learning opportunities. There will always be something you have never seen before. Don’t be afraid to be a leader of change. If you feel there’s a better way of doing things, you’re probably right!”—Jean-François Tourigny, director of event planning, Le Centre Sheraton Montréal Hotel 

“Be sure to have an accurate cost estimate that includes everything, including food, beverage, rental, AV, internet (additional bandwidth), rentals (special linen, centerpieces for dinners), labor charges (do you need to flip rooms for different set-ups?), room charges and all pertinent taxes. Take advantage of having a pre-event meeting so that you can meet the team, ask questions, and adjust items/numbers in advance. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. The hotel wants your event to be successful so that we can showcase our hotel to your guests and make you look like a superstar!”—Renata Reiniger, director of event planning, The Westin Edmonton 

“Make sure you understand what’s important and never avoid the budget question. Do not hesitate to suggest ideas for a more fluid program. Be confident and don’t be afraid to ask questions—displaying confidence contributes positively to both your team and client.  But always be authentic—and everyone will reciprocate the same authenticity.”—Marie-Michele Cloutier, director of sales, Delta Hotels by Marriott, Mont Sainte-Anne, Resort and Convention Center 

“Know your objectives and goals—find out the three most important things your client or organization wants to achieve with their conference or event.  This will help you focus on what is most important to them. It’s also important to understand the timelines that are provided in advance. Find a way to communicate effectively with your team to avoid surprises.”—Debra Simms, director of event planning, Halifax Marriott Harbourfront Hotel 

“Events rarely go exactly as planned. Adaptability is key; it helps in overcoming unexpected challenges and ensures the event's success. Be creative and think outside the conventional meeting room. Consider unique venues, innovative setups, and engaging activities that align with the event's objectives. Creativity leaves a lasting impression.”—Meneka Virmani Ganguly, sales consultant, The Pearle Hotel & Spa, Autograph Collection

“Focus on what is integral to your meeting or event, entrusting the hotel team with the orchestration of operational and execution-related facets. For instance, focus on selecting food and beverage offerings that align with the event’s purpose. Delegate decisions to the hotel team regarding the placement and service logistics of the chosen culinary elements. By adhering to this collaborative approach, your team will be poised to assist you effectively in realizing your vision.”—Saroj Kler, Senior Event Manager, JW Marriott Parq Vancouver and the DOUGLAS, Autograph Collection 

“Be flexible and consider alternate spaces. Look beyond the traditional meeting room. Trust that your onsite event manager knows the space the best and what will work or not work. Think about different layouts and don’t be afraid to try something new. Most of all, trust that your onsite event manager has your best interests at heart. Your success is their success, so they will do whatever it takes to make you shine.”Donna Grainger, director of event planning, Sheraton Centre Hotel Toronto 

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