Archive for May, 2010

5 Tips in Event Staffing Selection

May 25, 2010

First impressions are called FIRST for a reason!  Rarely is there ever an opportunity to change an initial impression.  As meeting and event planners, we live and die by this maxim.

We plan for every eventuality and then we plan some more;  we figure out all the logistics, ensuring all details are in place and when we have a second to breathe, we realize we need event staff—for reg, directing traffic, monitoring rooms,  running the show office, etc.

What to do? How to do it?  For years, the knee jerk reaction has been to call the local CVB for staff, but  in the past few years, many CVB’s across the country have gotten out of the staffing business and/or provided minimal numbers of staff.

So, we need a better plan:

  1. Start at least 3 months out from your meeting:  determine your needs and desires for staff.  Analyze what’s worked/not worked for you in the past, and interview in house end users to understand their expectations.  Ask yourself hard questions such as: is price the true determiner of selection, how much flexibility do you have to find an exceptional resource that might cost a bit more?  Ask yourself if you are as “locked in” as you really perceive you are re your options.  In other words, avoid the mentality of doing what you’ve always done or settling for an inferior service just because you have determined you have “no choice.”
  2.   Decide what’s important to YOU re staffing.  Shake it up!  Do you want staffing management services, managers and supervisors who put the client first and handle all the day to day of the staffing function?  Do you want customer service training so all staff is on the same page re a high quality delivery of customer service?  Do you want a service to look out for YOUR budget and YOUR imperatives, instead of protecting staffer billing?
  3. Research the best options on the planet: check with your industry friends to find out who they have worked with; check with your industry associations for member recommendations, and look for meaningful unique alternatives to same old, same old.  You don’t have to settle for less than that great first impression!
  4. Narrow your search and based on the best referrals you’ve been given, call the top three staffing resources and ask them to talk about how they are unique, what they can do for you that is above and beyond  their existing service offerings.  Ask what they would tell an unhappy customer and then LISTEN to how they handle the situation—not just what they say, but how they say it.  Think of these conversations as opportunities for information exchange but listen more than talk; test fit.  Personalities matter SO much in this relationship based business. 
  5.  Now, you figure you need to check references, but we all know, we usually list only references who  say positive things about us!  Do ask for a list of current customers, industry type, years of service, number of staff supplied , management provided, and ask the staffing resources to provide you with a plan to handle a particularly thorny challenge you are facing with your meeting.  While this mythical scenario may be just that, it can also include some actual reality; the proposed way of handling this scenario will speak volumes about the staffing resource.

Same old, same old won’t work in this “new normal” re-invention phase of the meetings industry.  The past ways of doing don’t always fit, and we need to re-invigorate ourselves with new ways of being and approaching our meetings and all the logistics involved with them.  This “new normal” requires strategic planning and action, and in many cases, partnering with our colleagues to achieve great things!

Gold Team Registration Typist Program

May 17, 2010

It’s so frustrating to create an effective Attendee registration layout, select appropriate registration hours, plan thoroughly with your registration company, only to have incompetent disinterested event staff show up to sit behind the computers!

Planning for and actually getting top talent placed in your reg area is critical to your success; after all, the reg staffers are viewed AS the association, not separate from the association.  Your attendees don’t make such distinctions, and you pay a heavy price for poor customer service, inaccurate data entry, mis-spelled attendee badges and on and on.

 What to do?  First make your issues known, then ask for improvement with a measureable plan!

We were challenged  with improving data entry accuracy from one of our clients in late 2008, and developed the Gold Team Registration Typist Program which quantifies the speed and accuracy of data entry, not on a random test, but on the actual screen shots from the registration vendor.  That proof coupled with a review of keying instructions –all BEFORE the typists arrive on site allows for a huge improvement in accuracy.

We implemented the program with a variety of other clients in 2009, not because we had issues with accuracy, but because we seek to improve our systems at all levels for all our customers.

The results have been very favorable: consistent matching to position,  less training time for the reg company onsite,  more committed event staffers, and happier attendees.  When staff is confident and well prepared for their assignments, they deliver better customer service. 

Seems so simple doesn’t it? Check out the ProShow page on facebook and linkedin for more details.

Lee A. Nold-Lewis

President, ProShow, national event staffing management

Above and Beyond

May 10, 2010

Going above and beyond in a temp job?  Why would you do more than your assigned duties, and put your best foot forward?  After all, it’s only a temp job lasting a few days or a week at the most…surprisingly, our event staffers rise to the occasion time after time, distinguishing themselves as key players even though they are new to our clients and their meeting.

Some people seize opportunities for greatness in even the most day to day situations.  At a recent meeting, one of these special staffers, working late in registration after most of the attendees were in a large poster session, observed an attendee in medical distress, helped settle her, and after our client called repeatedly for the house EMT, ran around the building checking both First Aid stations until she found an EMT whom she escorted to the registration area.  All was well with the attendee—what a relief.

 As our client described it, this event staffer, performed above and beyond, doing what needed to be done to take care of a potentially difficult situation.

What a trooper!  Absolutely, she fulfills the definition of going above and beyond and was recognized with a “Great Job!” button to wear for the rest of her assignment.  We are so proud of her!

Lee A. Nold-Lewis, President

ProShow, national event staffing management