Renette has been with LexisNexis for 13 years, serving as the event manager for the past seven. She earned her CMP in 2007 and believes that planners who are passionate about their roles will obtain this designation to further demonstrate their industry expertise. “It immediately conveys that you understand the industry standards and can effectively apply them when planning an event,” she says.
MM: What drives your passion for the industry and your job?
RB: I am passionate about the industry because it is such an intriguing business and because of the size and diversity of it. There is always something new to learn in this industry and I am so excited about how technology will change the way we manage events going forward. On my job, I am passionate about ensuring my customers are happy and that I completely understand their goals and objectives so that I can transform their strategies into an effective event.
MM: Who is your primary customer at LexisNexis?
RB: My primary customers are our internal marketing contacts. Our company has a meeting planning process we are required to use. An event planner is assigned by management to support the meeting, including the development of the meeting agenda in partnership with our internal customers; planning the logistical details, implementing the meeting on-site and post-meeting wrap up (e.g. billing, attendee evaluation, internal and management evaluation.).
MM: Which part of this planning process do you enjoy most, and why?
RB: I like the step where I learn the goals and objectives for an event because it is important for me to understand the full scope of what we need to accomplish at the meeting and to ensure a high-quality, successful experience for our attendees. I learn something new from every event that I plan and every person with whom I speak.
MM: What added value services or extra things have you done to ensure you have completely satisfied customers and attendees?
RB: Because every meeting is different, I truly tailor these “special touches” by group. But, it could be something as simple as having a computer and printer in the meeting area, in a non-hotel venue, for attendees to print boarding passes instead of doing that in their hotel lobby or at the airport.
MM: How many meetings do you plan and produce per year?
RB: Our department manages 250-275 events per year. That is approximately 220-245 trade shows and about 30 meetings with customer advisory boards, user conferences and internal meetings. I have managed as many as 75 events, both domestic and international, in a calendar year.
MM: That is quite a few meetings. How many employees are in your department?
RB: We have 10 event planners and two multimedia producers to manage this workload.
MM: What cities have you planned meetings in recently and tell us why you chose those cities?
RB: I have planned customer advisory board meetings in Dallas, TX, Phoenix, AZ, New York City, NY Dayton, OH, Colorado Springs, CO, Chicago, IL, Seattle, WA and San Diego, CA. Honestly, many times, the location is based on the fact that we have built a relationship with certain venues and find it beneficial to continue to work with contacts that are familiar with our programs. We also value locations that are centrally located to allow for ease of travel by our customers.
MM: You have been in the industry for some time now. Can you share some of your observations about how the industry has recently changed, if you believe it has?
RB: Sure, I can quickly identify three changes. One is the focus on green meetings. I believe this is a good change for environmental reasons alone. The second would be technology. There is such a prevalence of social media, e-marketing platforms, use of Smartphone applications and even lead retrieval systems. I believe this is a good change due to the fact that the world is rapidly adopting and expanding the capabilities that technology holds. In our industry it is important to understand the technology and how to effectively incorporate it into our meetings and events. And finally, third, I would say virtual meetings. I have seen a slight shift in incorporating more webinars. Like technology, times are changing and many are experiencing reductions in budgets; however, the need to meet with a group of customers is still a priority.
MM: So then, what do you and your peers feel about the future of meetings?
RB: Well, I think the most prevalent trends are how to market via social media, conference scheduling apps and virtual meetings and webcasts. At LexisNexis we embrace social media channels as valuable tools to build our company brand, provide awareness of our expertise and strengthen relationships with our customers and prospects.
MM: Speaking of the future, what advice would you give college students interested in meeting planning?
RB: I would tell them you must have a passion for the industry. It is not an industry to enter just because it sounds fun. I would also say this industry is fast-paced and ever-changing, and that one needs to stay abreast of the changes. I would direct them to industry associations as one of the most effective ways to help in this area. I would share that one must be extremely customer focused and understand that it is imperative that you and your customers are partners. And finally, I would emphasize that the amount of time that is required to be successful is not an eight-to-five job.
MM: Before ending, is there anything else you would like to add?
RB: Yes, I live by a variety of quotes. Today, I would like to share this one with you and the author is unknown. “Growth means change and change involves risk, stepping from the known to the unknown.”
Are you a passionate meeting planner? If so, please contact Midwest Meetings at firstname.lastname@example.org.