Respected meeting organizers Lisa Astorga, director of meetings for the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostais and Gregg H. Talley, president and CEO of Talley Management Group, Inc. joined Christine “Shimo” Shimasaki, managing director of 2Synergize, a Simpleview Consulting Company, in what could be described as an exemplary coaching session for the supplier/partner community on how to maintain relationships with planners during this unprecedented time of disruption in our industry.
Participants eager to understand just how they can stay connected and add value for their planner partners were aided in better understanding the perspectives of both Lisa and Gregg regarding what is helpful in the current environment and how partners can best prepare to support their customers going forward. The best will rise to the top with a blend of engagement that demonstrates they are keeping it real, uncovering the most prevalent concerns and identifying solutions.
TRUST AND TRANSPARENCY
The panelists readily agreed this is not the time for communication to be tone deaf. It is imperative to be sensitive to the fact that all parties have been victims to the devastating consequences of the pandemic. A trusted partner looks for ways to step back and humanize the conversation. Can you be trusted to be transparent about your own current concerns and conditions and eager to learn about your customer’s challenges? Undoubtedly, the best outreach during this time is one that takes an opportunity to educate. Because every destination and their own partners have been impacted differently, messaging giving updates and resources, along with those offering a way to stay connected for rapidly changing information will be best received.
Question to ask yourself: Is my outreach well timed, appropriate, and helpful to my customer at this juncture?
EXAMINATION AND UNDERSTANDING
Partners/supplies will differentiate themselves by taking a step back and opening up dialogue with their customers on a different level to be able to understand your customer’s top priorities and concerns, without operating on assumptions. It will be more important than ever before to map out both the meeting organizer’s and the meeting attendee’s journey. Future concerns will be focused around risk, health, sanitation, and safety; ultimately, to determine what it will take for everyone to feel comfortable in an event environment moving forward. This is the time to close any gaps of understanding and learn from each other. We will need to get creative and rely on each other more than ever to have a complete and thorough analysis as we proceed.
Question to ask yourself: Have I done my homework to understand my customers’ needs and my customers’ customers’ needs fill in any knowledge gaps I may have?
PROACTIVITY AND COMMUNITY BUILDING
One thing was abundantly clear from the planner perspective; moving forward will not be business as usual, and partners who separate themselves from the pack will be those who spend this time seeking solutions to changing paradigms. Lisa and Gregg identified a great opportunity for destinations to come together in community, perhaps considering a destination meeting partners “town-hall” to rally the brightest minds collectively. Now is the time to build community collaboration and stand together as a meeting destination prepared to meet the demands and concerns of the future with both revolutionary thinking and action.
Question to ask yourself: Am I coming from a place of proactivity, having determined how my customer’s needs will be different and how my offerings are being adapted? Is my community on the same page?
LISTEN TO THE CONVERSATION
In closing, Gregg said, “Frankly, I am energized. I think this, for our industry in particular, is a turning point and it will force some necessary conversations.” One of our participants commented, “It’s been a very interesting exchange. I think it will give us, as a community of suppliers, the opportunity for reflection and adapting our offerings.”