Those of us in the meetings and events industry who have worked as a supplier to the industry have a unique perspective on how to treat vendors. I don’t intend to write about relationship management, persuasion or power here. Clearly, anyone who has successfully worked in any capacity as a meeting planner has figured out how to get what they need from their suppliers.
I started telling someone recently about how I think some planners need to trust their suppliers to do the job they are contracted to do and then I contradicted myself with a story about a CSM who didn't do a good job. I have worked on teams where one of the planners was a bit too micromanaging for my taste. Since I started out on the supplier side of the industry and was passionate about being the best I could be at whatever job I had committed to, I choose to treat my vendors in a way I would have liked to have been treated. If we have a contract and other communication in writing and I feel that you understand what I need and we have agreed upon a price, then I trust you to honor your side of the agreement.
Where I ended up contradicting myself was when I had to admit that I had a client who had some issues on-site at the hotel because her CSM hadn't produced a copy of the BEOs until the day before the event and had not included everything on the BEOs they had discussed.
Not all suppliers are equally committed and passionate, so how do you know the difference?
This might be one reason that certifications are so important in our industry. Often times, we think that getting a CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) or CMM (Certification in Meeting Management) are obvious for planners but it is definitely one way that suppliers can set themselves apart and prove their commitment to the industry. This is one of the reasons that I not only went through the process of earning my CMP while I was a supplier but also spent a few years as a study group leader and also contributed to the next CMP manual. My next goal is to earn the CMM. Certifications are an important part of the advocacy conversation as well. As we continue to educate our friends and families about what we do and how we are not just party planners or money spenders, talking about certifications elevates the perception people have of our industry.
Do you agree that certifications are a good way to identify great suppliers? What other methods have you used?