3 Award-Winning Event Managers Share Their Secrets of Success

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event managers

Meeting planners often possess a superhuman command of details. Even so, they rely on others. A major assist can come from event services managers.

A venue’s event manager—either through brilliance or blunder—can dictate whether a planner’s event succeeds or fails. A recent survey of meeting planners found that 71 percent said event services “greatly affected” their decision to rebook a city or property.

So what makes an event manager great?

Paul Ruby, CMP and president of Event Services Professionals Association in Princeton Junction, New Jersey, tried to find the answer. He listened to award-winning event managers to find out what they think. You can check out the full story on the group’s website, but we’ve pulled together the highlight reel.

Here’s what three of the industry’s top managers had to say in their own words.

‘The relationship between planner and event service manager has grown’

Anthony Lombardi, director of sales and marketing, Sheraton Dallas

“We must create miracles and magic with the information we’ve been given. Event services managers make it happen—that’s the norm, delivering miracles. It’s all in a day’s work.

“My motto is never stop learning and never stop trying to be the best… you can be. Sometimes at the end of the day, I’m pulled in so many directions, it’s hard to think about what I accomplished. That’s why I like to keep a to-do list, something to show my tasks and their impact; it helps me move forward.

“Every step of the attendees’ stay becomes an experience. The relationship between planner and event service manager has grown, and the event service manager must build a rapport with the customer as well to execute a phenomenal event. Just remember to keep things in perspective. Remember that we’re not saving lives, but creating memories, one event at a time. Relax, enjoy it and do the best you can.”

‘We consistently problem-solve and troubleshoot’

Julie Pingston, CMP, CTA, senior vice president and chief operating officer, Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau

“Customers are savvier, do more research and they want to replicate the best experiences. The question is, how do we meet those expectations? It’s a good challenge because it helps better us all. We want to make events better and make them different.

“We consistently problem-solve and troubleshoot, and those are the qualities of strong leaders and those are what we fall back on. I can work with anyone and I can do it amid stress and tension. We have to be cool, calm and collected and build long-term relationships. That’s how you portray yourself as a leader.

“Don’t just settle for the status quo. Think about what you need to do next year to improve the status quo. Think about how you can do it better. Always look forward.”

‘Customer service and stress go hand-in-hand’

Eric Blanc, CMP, director of sales, marketing and convention services, Tampa Convention Center

“Success doesn’t just happen; you can’t just show up and do what’s required. You must have a desire to learn new things, because this industry is ever-changing and no two events are the same. My motto is if you make it through a day without learning something new, you weren’t paying attention.

Customer service and stress go hand-in-hand. When you’re younger, you feel invincible and you work a lot of hours. I learned the hard way after three instances of burnout that you control what you can control and don’t worry about the other stuff—it will play itself out.

“Sometimes you can get the information from the customer’s website, but if it’s crunch time, be honest with your customer. “Say, ‘Look, we depend on this information to plan properly. If we don’t have it, there’s no guarantee that we can properly service your event.’ That tends to get attention. Planners want us to be partners, not service providers, and honesty works wonders.”