I love books and places packed with them, like libraries and bookstores. But if I were a meeting planner, a book wouldn’t be my first source for information about how to do my job or how to do my job better.
A quick search of Amazon.com shows why. Tap in “meeting planning,” and fewer than 20 relevant books pop up, most published five or more years ago. “Meeting and Event Planning for Dummies,” published in 2003, and “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Meeting and Event Planning,” published in 2004, cover basics about the industry, but the technological changes in the past decade have obviously dated them. More recent works, such as 2010’s “Event Planning Basics: Meetings, Conferences, Convention, Exhibitions and Special Events,” would be more helpful to today’s planners, but websites are a fresher source of information and ideas.
As an example, a planner who is orchestrating a special event can find edgy, out-of-the-ordinary ideas at bizbash.com. Information is short, snappy and inspiring, packaged in small pieces with bright photos.
Ideas presented often spring from events and meetings held in big cities, but there is no reason that trends or themes launched in New York can’t work in Newport, Rhode Island. A recent story describes avant-garde approaches to name badges used by organizers of the TED Talks held around the country. For example, having guests list three of their personal interests instead of their name turned badges into sure conversation starters.
Another story showed how a planner in New York kept guests dry as they arrived at a party one rainy night: by lining the sidewalk with men in dark suits holding white umbrellas.
Some websites aimed at meeting planners offer valuable, free resources. At Experient-inc.com, planners can download free guides such as “Take Control of Your Food and Beverage Budget” and “Guide to Room Block Management.” The catch? Planners must sign up on the website, presumably so they’ll receive future marketing from Experient, a meeting management company. Experient’s website also has an industry blog, where planners can read short articles on topical issues like “4 Tips To Prevent Room Block Pirates.”
Enumerating tips and ideas is also a habit at Planyourmeeting.com, where “20 Tips for Making Your Event Apps Addictive” or “7 Ways to Avoid Last-Minute Hiccups” mingle with more general work topics like “The 6 Components of Work-Life Balance.”
The fun thing about the Internet is that new websites are always joining the party. Among them is the website of a 5-year-old organization for seasoned meeting planners: SPIN Network (www.spinplanners.com). SPIN is an acronym for Senior Planners Industry Network. In its short history, SPIN has started its own video library, and it offers its videos free to members and for $25 to others. For those who like the lecture without the classroom, the videos can be an effective learning tool. Among the issues covered are Twitter for meeting planners, dangers of audiovisual contracts, top travel apps and selling sponsorships.
Corbinball.com is an industry site worth any meeting planner’s time. It is an Internet iceberg: The deeper you go, the more you find. Ball, the meeting industry’s best-known technology expert, packs his site with free software tools, articles from across the industry, a long list of favorite links, a free newsletter and tweets.
It is one of the best examples of why meeting planners who want to know more turn first to the Internet.