Are you an event planner who can be both calm and kind under pressure? If not, choose another profession.
Your clients, however, may not possess those same traits and unfortunately you cannot suggest they move on. We must work as a team to achieve event goals, despite the heat of the moment, occasional personality conflicts, tight deadlines and sometimes even tighter budgets.
And that’s just during the pre-planning!
Our industry is rooted in hospitality, but it’s not always easy to remain hospitable in the face of a challenging event, client or guest. Every seasoned planner has stories about situations when they went over and above to satisfy a request, even when asked to do the unthinkable. For instance, I once had a VIP direct me to fish her cell phone out of a toilet.
So, is the customer always right? Ritz Carlton says so, and I operate under that assumption. As planners, it’s important to manage our emotions and get the job done. At the end of the day, a successful event is our safety net.
Over the years I’ve been nice, I’ve been bossy (because Tina Fey and Sheryl Sandberg tell me it’s OK), and I’ve been honest with my clients about what is and is not possible. Yes, I’ve even said “no” once or twice. Here are few tips and tricks [colored box] that have served me well:
I believe that all humans are basically good and kind, but under stress we sometimes act out of character. We can’t always foresee these situations, or change them, but we can control our reactions.
Pay attention to internal cues – A racing pulse, dry mouth, aching stomach or tight muscles may indicate that something is amiss in your emotional world. If you sense anger is building, take a breath.
Pick your battles – Remember Ritz Carlton. In most cases, the customer is right. But if you are asked to do something that is illegal, unethical or you feel will hamper achievement of the event goals, speak up.
Be respectful – Follow the Golden Rule. Just because someone behaves in an unprofessional manner doesn’t mean you should as well. You will feel better in the end. I promise.
Support your team – Good leaders protect their people from being demeaned or abused. There are no excuses for that type of behavior.
Don’t sweep situations under the rug – Post-event, calmly and objectively review any difficult working relationships. If you must work with the person again, take time to clear up any misunderstandings while the memory of the event is fresh. This should reduce the chance of a repeat situation.