Tag Archives: Career advice

Balancing Parenting and Caregiving While Working in Hospitality

Originally published Meetings Today Blog

Two articles that I read recently—one on the “science of cuteness” from The New York Times and another about “parenthood-indecision therapists” from The Washington Post—took me back to my younger days of deciding whether or not to have children.

In my 20s, I learned, in TIME magazine, of a new organization called, then, the National Organization for Non-Parents (later, the National Association for Optional Parenthood) founded by Ellen Peck and Shirley Radl. I was intrigued.

Like many young people, especially women, our route to adulthood was to graduate from high school, then college, and then marry and have children, with maybe a job along the way. Look, I’m a child of the ‘50s and ‘60s! It was different then.

I’d always thought I would have 1.9 children and then adopt “thousands” and be a true “earth mother,” never giving a thought to how I’d care for or support those. We were the beginning of that part of the women’s movement who thought we could have it all.

Choosing Not to Have Children

When I chose to not have children, the route to ensuring it was arduous: at the time, a woman’s age times the number of children she had had to equal 120 in order for a woman to receive a tubal ligation, or permission from a spouse and at least two psychiatrists.

It wasn’t law but it was policy at hospitals.

I met one of those criteria and had to go through hoops to meet the other. I was certain that parenthood, after giving it much thought, was not something I wanted to do.

“What if you regret it?” I was asked that question in numerous appearances on national radio and TV shows what I would do if I one day regretted my decision.

My response was that it was better to regret not having children than to regret having them once they were there.

Balancing Parenting, Caregiving and Work

Those of you who are parents and work full or part time, from home or in a hotel or convention center or office—or those of you who are caregivers for someone—have multiple jobs. I do not know how you do it. And sadly, I don’t have a convenient list of tips for you.

On days when, at my home office, the two cats are particularly needy, I think about you and wonder how in the world you find time to breathe.

If you are single—that is, without a spouse or partner or someone sharing the responsibilities—the work you do is overwhelming.

And the hours required of us are often obscene.

Those of you in sales have talked to me about the evenings when you have to entertain. Planners often work late, take work home, or feel an obligation to go to events held by those with whom you are doing business.  Event Service Professionals (aka CSMs)?

OY! Simply OY. You are never not on call.

No Easy Answers: Analyzing the Research

There is academic research like this “Parenting Stress and Its Associated Factors Among Parents Working in Hospitality …” in which it says:

“The service industry is common for long working hours and shift works. The current study investigated parents working in six types of service industries, including hotel and food & beverages, wholesale and retail, gaming and entertainment, medical health and social welfare, education, and as housewife/man.

“The work nature is further classified as on-shift or non-shift, and whether the family is single-income, double-income or single parent.”

A Horrifying Path to America for Hotel Workers” shows the nightmare faced by immigrants, women in particular, who are being exploited to fill gaps in hospitality jobs:

“In today’s fragmented, contractor-heavy economy, many hotels, restaurants, and other facilities no longer directly employ their workers. This employment arrangement may seem strange, but ‘it is very common for hotels in the U.S. to contract with labor recruiters in the Philippines (and other countries like Jamaica) to recruit temporary seasonal workers on H-2B visas,’ said Laura Berger, formerly of the City Bar Justice Center, a New York–based pro bono legal organization that represented [one named person] in her immigration case.”

[Related Content: Why Women Are Ideal Hospitality Leaders]

Now the hotel industry is seeking parents to fill post-Brexit staffing gaps, assuming that all plays out as planned (will it or won’t it is still part of the question).

Had I held off on the topic of parenting and caregiving for a Friday With Joan newsletter, where I often interview industry colleagues or others, I know that interviewing parents and caregivers in our industry’s many segments—planners, hotel sales and service, heart-of-the-house hourly workers, and others—would have been one more thing to do to add to their list. I chose to do this separately and let you weigh in at your leisure. How do you balance the demands of parenting or caregiving while working in the hospitality industry?

Additional Reading for Your Consideration

Here’s some additional reading on parenting and hospitality that I discovered:

Weigh in With Your Advice and Stories Below

I hope that those reading this—parents and caregivers—will weigh in below in the comments. We need to know what the industry can do to make working in the industry and having children and/or marrying more sensible.

What can the industry do to support you and make life better?

If there are Global Meeting Industry Day (GMID) events in April 2019 addressing the issues of parenting and caregiving, please let us know. I’m pretty sure that combining marriage and/or children and/or caregiving and/or aging in hospitality is not on the radar of enough.

And if you would prefer to have me post a comment anonymously for you, write to me at FridayWithJoan@aol.com and I’ll do so without any identifying information.

Work Ethic and Work-Life Balance Disconnect

Originally published Meetings Today

When I read this article in the Sunday, June 19, 2016—Father’s Day—Washington Post business section, it reminded me so much of time with my dad, of blessed memory, schlepping around the state of Ohio to sell chickens! Like the younger Ted Gup’s experiences in helping at his Dad’s store, I too worked in the family stores—the Joe O. Frank Co./Tasty Bird Farms (also in Ohio)—where I learned to cut up chicken in no time flat and measure, from a huge block of Oleo, any amount requested … skills, alas, I’ve lost over the years but the work experience stayed with me.

My “work ethic” derives from many family members: my grandfathers, one of whom retired and then started another job, dying on his lunch hour at 85; my dad, who, drafted from college into WWII, returned and went to work versus finishing college and even through a cancer diagnosis, continued to work; and my own work, first as a babysitter and then, at 14, a mandatory-my-parents-said work permit and work after school and on weekends, and almost always since then with a few times of unemployment but not since 1981 when I created my consulting company have I not worked.

When I read that definition of “work ethic,” I cringed. It makes it sound as if one were lazy or lacking in character if one didn’t possess what someone thought how you worked was the same as theirs.

Recently, in work for a client, one of the stated goals was to look at who was working how and to figure out how to help the meetings staff find work-life balance. If you’re a meeting planner/professional, you’re reading that and guffawing, right? As a planning professional (and vendor to our industry), do you think you can advance (in whatever way you see it) or even get a job if you believe that balance is more critical than “work ethic”?

As I read all this and conducted the work with the client, it occurred to me, as I am sure it has to many others: Boomers and Xers talk about Millennials and their “work ethic”—well, they criticize Millennials (aka “Gen Y”) for not having a work ethic! (Worse [to me!] the Millennials themselves say it.)

So what is work-life balance? Doesn’t it depend on the worker? Is it necessity or desire that makes us work more? Certainly, many people are working two or more jobs to support themselves and their families.

From Forbes and Yahoo! are these articles about how different generations view work ethic:

This, about paternity leave, from the Brookings Institution confirmed that in the US, we talk about a work-life balance and don’t mean it to be for everyone.

We’re connected 24/7 and thus, I think, these words from that article, sum it up:

“In it [the study], we found that nine out of ten millennials say that they can access information whenever and wherever they are, and that 73% are expected to be contactable at any time of day or night. So tell me how are we to find balance if we are expected to be ‘on call’ all the time? Friends tell me that when they go on vacation, if they even take a day off, their emails are overwhelming even if they have an out-of-office message!”

If we really believe in work-life balance, shouldn’t GI Gens, Silents, Boomers and Xers stop the negative comments about Millennials and the belief they have no “work ethic”? If we really believe in “work-life balance,” shouldn’t we pay a living wage so that people don’t have to work multiple jobs?

What do you think? What’s your take on “work ethic” and generational differences? Work-life balance? Is it bunk? Oh and did you know what Oleo was without clicking the link?!

Meetings Industry Strengths and Talents Stats

Originally published Meetings Today

I was not a student of statistics. And ours aren’t scientific. Nonetheless, those who participated in the March FWJ content and survey on StrengthsFinders and took advantage of CoreClarity’s offer for learning more, gained even greater strength in how they view themselves and work.

It was fascinating to read the strengths of those who participated. To accompany the stats, in this post you will find an interview with CoreClarity about what they observed and then make sure to check out the additional interviews with Kellee O’Reilly and Sean Schuette, CMP, about their strengths and how they use them, which will help you gain further insight.

If you did submit your strengths to CoreClarity, they have a record of that and you are still eligible for individual coaching. If you did not participate by sending in your strengths previously, they are unable to provide the coaching, but you can still learn from the info below!

We are grateful to them for their generosity in providing the tools and the time in March, for the analyzing and coaching and again for this June edition of Friday With Joan. Even if you didn’t participate, make sure to check out the statistics from the CoreClarity survey.

1. Were there any patterns that emerged from this, albeit unscientific, sample of people in the meetings and exhibition industry?

CoreClarity (CC): When we look at the entire group, [more than] 50% of the individuals reported that their goal when planning a meeting or managing exhibits is about the experience gained. This speaks to the combination of the group’s top 5 talents, which we refer to as a CoreDrill. The group’s talents make up the Life Line CoreDrill which has characteristics that include servant leadership, motivating others by example, caregiving and caretaking, and more often than not, they are steady and reliable.

Meeting planning and exhibit management are both multi-faceted and require many elements to be assembled quickly and simultaneous, and often times there is an immediate need for problem solving. The Strategic talent was the No. 1 talent of the group and those naturally gifted with this talent are masterful at solving complex issues with elegant solutions.

What we can conclude from the survey results is there’s a clear support for what Gallup found to be true of successful people. There is not one specific talent that makes people successful. Rather, if you are working well in your talents and building your life upon them, you will be successful.

2. Were you in any way struck by what you learned?

CC: While we were not necessarily surprised by the talents of the group, we recognize the importance of understanding how each person’s talents show up in them.

We can have preconceived notions of what the talents are or what talents we want to see in a group. We may think we have an idea of what a certain talent is in our mind. However, even if people have the same talents, they can manifest differently.

Talents are the innate characteristics within us. We must add skills, knowledge and use to develop our talents into strengths. Because we all have different experiences, giving us varying insights and abilities, our talents will show up differently from others.

3. In the coaching, with those who elected to do so, what stood out?

CC: It was invigorating to talk with several of the individuals who completed the survey and submitted their talents. It was evident that they were in the right place for their talents. They were ready and willing to see more of who they already are. That readiness and willingness really influences the success of strengths.

Many people aren’t aware of how their talents interact and/or intensify each other. Those I interviewed were able to see that their talents don’t just stand alone. Rather, we can look at our talents as a whole in conjunction with our experiences.

Each person’s past pulls into how their talents show up in them. Drawing that into their understanding of their talents can help in putting their talents to the best use.

It was wonderful to communicate that their originality is what makes them valuable. Giving them the language to articulate that to those around them is so important.

4. What do you want people and organizations to consider about the relevance of StrengthsFinder and the work you do to help make people and places stronger?

CC: The Strengths language allows us to articulate our gifts and what makes us unique. This gives freedom to be who we are, celebrate our differences, and learn from one another.There’s power in knowing what talents each individual brings to a group.

This awareness is something companies can leverage to streamline team processes by efficiently transforming individuals into a collaborative community.

5. What did I not ask that you want to have conveyed?

CC: There are many opportunities to create stronger relationships using this material. Whether between spouses, significant others, co-workers, or other family members, this is a valuable tool that illuminates relational intricacies. For example, we become more aware of how talents can collide with one another. Working through those talent interactions can provide a language and plan for how to avoid or soften the potential collisions.

We’re always looking to grow our CoreClarity family. If this piqued your interest and you’d like more information on adding this tool to your tool kit, please visit us here.

Final note from Joan: In working with clients who use StrengthsFinders consistently, I’ve seen remarkable results. It’s a matter of being consistent in the application of one’s talents. As you’ll see in the interviews with Kellee and Sean, and in what I wrote previously, knowing and using one’s talents can make a difference in how one works and feels. It’s worth it!

As always the views expressed are my own—and in this case CoreClarity.

Transferable Skills and How to Use Them

Originally posted Meetings Today Blog 

Bulletin Board With Skills Written on Paper

Meeting planning is a remarkably broad career, one to which many who enter the profession came from elsewhere, have the responsibilities as part of other jobs (marketing and HR as examples) and is often considered a profession of generalists.

If there’s something to be done, meeting planners (which I use instead of “professionals” because the latter often includes sales and marketing, catering, convention services, production, AV, etc. that are sometimes more specialized) often are tasked with “other duties as assigned” because we have so many transferable or cross-over skills.

We are problem-solvers who can often think through how best to solve problems.

In the March edition of Friday With Joan we looked at “Strengths and Talents” (You may still enter your Strengths and help us look at the talents of those who plan meetings. You’ll receive personal worksheets from Core Clarity for doing so. Follow the instructions here).

Building on the Strengths newsletter, for this April 1st edition (no foolin’…) of Friday With Joan, we look at transferable skills. It was interesting to interview colleagues who have gone in an out of meeting planning and related areas to see what skills they use and which ones transferred.

What’s a transferable skill? If you’ve read any version of What Color Is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job Hunters and Career-changers you’ll recognize the concept. This was one of the most useful articles I found in researching more about transferable skills.

(There’s even an app for that!).

I went through this list of transferable skills and thought “WOW! Meeting planners have most if not all of these!” Everything we do—negotiating, management (project, people, financial), recruit and personnel, even repair equipment—is among the skills seen as transferable. I wonder in how many other professions that can be said?

The question then becomes where would we go and how would we use the same skills?

Many of us stay in the same broad hospitality and meetings industry. Others, like my colleague and friend, Amy Beaulieu (one of four colleagues—Amy, Bill Reed, Jacy Hanson, and Reiko Tate—interviewed), took her skills to a nonprofit where she became a health educator. In that role, her communication skills allowed her to represent the organization in television and other interviews, in fundraising, and in working with the medical community.

In my own career—as a meeting planner, business owner, facilitator, trainer, educator, writer—I’ve moved into each area within the broad hospitality and meetings industry, taking with me what I’ve learned, using my strengths and talents, and finding new ways to grow.

One of the writers I’ve found most helpful is Barbara Sher, and in particular Wishcraft: How To Get What You Really Want (Note: One of my favorite exercises in the book was looking at a perfect day—from what I’d wear, to where I’d be, with whom I’d interact, etc., and then asking those who know me to do the same. On almost every area, there were matches.)

Where have you gone with your careers? What skills have you taken with you? How have you put your talents (“Strengths”) to work?

Share below with others so we can all grow.

Working Smarter With Strengths

Original post at Meetings Today

I’d always wondered why, in job interviews, people were asked about their weaknesses. It made no sense to me. Is anyone interviewed because of real or perceived weaknesses? Aren’t they considered because of what, on paper, appears to be their experience and strengths?

When the book Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton was released in the early 2000s, I completed the StrengthsFinder* assessment and realized so much about myself.

But let me back up a bit: you may know me because I’ve done work with you or your employing company, or you have been in a session I facilitated or a course I taught. You may have read my column, “The Best Laid Plans…”, that ran for years in another meetings industry publication, or been a member of the original “MIMList” of which I was the moderator. You may have simply stumbled on this blog or others and not know anything of my background.

The short story: I moved to Washington, D.C. in 1978 and found work as a meeting planner with a nonprofit after working on events in my hometown of Dayton, Ohio. I didn’t know there were jobs or titles that involved meetings! I was one of the “fell into it” people. It seemed a good fit.

The organization that hired me in D.C. didn’t have the money to keep me on for full years, so for three to four months a year, I did contract meeting planning. I was the “queen of binders” containing all the meeting details and worried about all those things those who plan meetings worry about! Even before I understood the scope or risk management, I experienced risk issues and knew to plan for them.

In 1981, I opened my own company, with my former employer and a few of those for whom I contracted, as my first clients. As a parting gift from the nonprofit, I was given the “Joan Eisenstodt Memorial Notebook” with gratitude expressed for my ability to manage the details of the many meetings I had done.

Running a company requires similar and different skills; like meeting planning, both demand attention to details and record keeping. I was learning that my strengths were that I could “do” details but I really hated them—especially the paperwork.

I persisted and for years planned meetings and events for many different clients. I also began to teach and facilitate, write, and help clients design more creative content delivery methods for their meetings. I learned, partly because of a lawsuit in 1983, how interested I was in risk management and contracts and that “red-lining” a contract was akin to reading a great novel: it was looking at how the words strung together mattered to the outcomes.

If someone had asked me—and they probably did—what my strengths were, I’m not sure I could have articulated them.

That was until I picked up Now, Discover Your Strengths and, a few years later, StrengthsFinders 2.0 (by Tom Rath).

After completing the StrengthsFinder assessment, I cried because it pinpointed why I’d become increasingly tired and disinterested in doing the logistics of meetings. This is not to say I didn’t think logistics were important: good content and logistics have to be intertwined to have a successful event. It was that I had validation of my strengths and they were taking me in a better-for-me direction.

More recently, a friend and colleague, a GM of a hotel, said that their executive team had completed the strengths assessment and how it was making a difference in how they worked. With clients whose staffs have completed the inventory and deployed people in ways that utilized their talents or strengths, work was more productive and people were happier in what they did (see an illustration of my five strengths to the right, courtesy of CoreClarity).

When focused on strengths or talents, one is more apt to work in a way that is smarter, healthier, and just good. And now you have an opportunity to learn more about your strengths. Read the interview with CoreClarity’s Candace Fitzpatrick and Gary Rifkin in this month’s Friday With Joan newsletter and take the inventory**.

We’ll follow up with the findings in future months.

*Editor’s Note: Clifton StrengthsFinder is a web-based personality assessment that poses a series of 177 self-descriptors, delivered in pairs where one is chosen by the participant, that reveal the traits of whoever is taking the test. More details on how the test works are available on the Strengthsfinder website. Ways of taking the test include, creating an account on the StrengthsFinder website and taking the paid test ($15). Or by purchasing a physical copy ofStrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath, which provides access to the test.

**If you have already taken the StrengthsFinder test and know your top five strengths (or decide that you want to do so via the means above), CoreClarity will provide you with free info on how to better utilize that knowledge. Check out the custom-tailored Google Form for more details.

5 Meeting Functions Enhanced by Knowing What’s in the News

Stack of newspapers

We’re all busy. The news is often painful to read, watch and/or listen to, but our work is so impacted by what’s in the news and the potential consequences that if we are not paying attention, we are negligent in our duties. It’s all part of life-long learning*, which many, after they secure degrees or any letters after their names, forget.

Here are five areas of conducting meetings that are impacted by what’s in the news and why you should pay attention. In the comments, add yours and your sources—newspapers (print or digital), periodicals and other media go-tos (including social).

1. Destination Selection and Use: The greatest buzz (groan … I know!) is about the Zika virus, its origin, where and how it’s spreading, and what is being done to stop the spread of the virus. Airlines are issuing waivers to passengers and changing some employees’ schedules of those who are afraid of traveling to areas where Zika-carrying mosquitoes are prevalent. PCMA’s Convene had this to say about it.

Knowing what airlines are doing and the impact that may have on the accessibility of all destinations, especially second and third tier ones, matters to our selection and use of those destinations. Cleveland, that was for years a Continental hub and then a United hub, has cut back more nonstop flights to numerous destinations. One wonders what the impact will be on the Republican National Convention to be held in Cleveland this summer. Perhaps, if gas prices continue to be low(er), more will drive.

(I’m not saying don’t go; I’m saying be aware, informed, and plan for contingencies … whether they are health related or otherwise).

2. Site Selection: Will our choices narrow because of the mergers noted in No. 3 below? Will you have the information you need about labor contracts? What about the impact of fire safety if you hadn’t read about the fire and investigation of a hotel in Las Vegas? Or if you had not read my blog about safety, you might not have asked about the presence of AEDs or other safety features. You might not know that many hotels are considering eliminating in-room phones (you’ve noticed how there are fewer in rooms now, right?), which may be a safety hazard or are considering using robots versus people to serve.

3. Hotel ContractsIHG (InterContinental Hotels) merged with Kimpton; Fairmont and Raffles merged. From what these hotel CEOs say … there will be more. What is the impact on contracts in place of these mergers and those upcoming? Or future contracts? Are you aware of who owns the hotels (the buildings) and who manages them as well as the brand on the door?

What are you following to keep up with all that may change and the impact on your contracts and contract negotiations? (On April 27 and August 31, I’ll do webinars for Meetings Today—the first on site selection; the latter on contracts for accommodations. You can also find past webinars at that link). Clearly the industry press is covering these mergers just as they are with the airlines. (After UA and Continental, American and US Airways, who will be next?) Follow the business press too. I subscribe to the print editions of Bloomberg Businessweek and Fortune, local business journals for cities to which clients are considering or taking meetings, hotel-related reading, Crain’s for various cities, and more. You can read online or in print. Just read!

And then there was this that should be a concern for all planners, Starwood employees, and individual hotel owners about what Starwood’s new CEO says about the safety of most Starwood brands under a Marriott merger.

4. Meeting “Stoppage” and Individual Cancellation Plans and Policies: If, because of a pending snow storm or other weather issue, the airlines start to cancel flights days in advance (follow Joe Brancatelli, @joesentme, on Twitter) … or if because of the Zika virus people decide it is not safe to attend a meeting you’ve planned or one you plan to attend … or if, like in Cleveland, an airline pulls flights and it’s no longer easy to get to and from the destination without multiple plane changes, a person says “enough” and wants to cancel attendance, what are your policies? What’s in your contracts with venues and vendors about stopping the meeting?

Is it force majeure if a storm hasn’t hit and you cancel a meeting? What about Zika which reports say is spreading, but like SARS, may not actually impact the meeting? All the things that could impact a meeting being stopped—by the venue or by weather or by an individual who just doesn’t want to schlep more than she’d planned—are impacted by what’s in the news. To not pay attention means to be caught off-guard or to make assumptions and we know what that does!

5. Liabilities and Meeting Risk: What if you had been, as part of your job, responsible to send people on an incentive cruise and they’d been on this ship? What if you book a group into a Zika-infested area and someone needs, for reasons unrelated to Zika, a blood transfusion? What must you consider when updating your risk and emergency plan for each meeting? What in that destination or facility might cause harm for which you must plan?

I know that there are those who think I overthink it but here’s what I know: to under-thinking and under-planning puts people, the meeting sponsor, and you at risk. And if you’d like the table of contents to a risk plan, go to the “Resources” section of my website or email me at FridaywithJoan@aol.com for a copy.

Another thing you might also like: if you don’t read, you wouldn’t know about the wearable chair, which seems a perfect thing for exhibitors at tradeshows, or that two songs in popular use finally settled a copyright case (Hint: one is sung at least once a year to or by most of us).

And an asterisk to the title: learning from lots of different sources enhances your life. You are able to start and continue conversations with almost anyone, enabling lots of opportunities; you gain insights about your life and you continue your education.

*In the February 8-14 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, quoting Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel-winning economist at Columbia. “He says societies need to emphasize life-long learning not just school.”

32 Questions About the Industry

Originally published Meetings Today

There are so many things about which I wonder—and guess you might too—regarding our profession, industry, hotels, air travel and service. Ending the year and starting a new one with questions will stimulate our brains and perhaps give us new information in the answers some may have. If you have an answer to any of these questions, please share in the comments!

Hotels and Decor:

  1. Why do hotels do cute flowers folds with facial tissues? Who uses the tissues that are in the folds? If they are all thrown away, isn’t this an anti-green practice?
  2. If the table/desk is right under the flat immovable TV screen, does anyone watch?
  3. What decorator thought this giant clock on a wall of a hotel room was a good idea? (Right … I thought the same…).

Hotels and Service:

  1. What will it take for CSMs (or Event Service Professionals as they are now known) to a) be given recognition? b) receive better compensation for rebookings since we know it’s their service that brings us back and not the sales?
  2. In what ways can planners encourage the hotels with which they work to have the Event Service Professionals join ESPA? Would you negotiate it into contracts?
  3. When and why did hotels start outsourcing bell service, security and housekeeping? Does it matter to you?
  4. Housekeepers work very hard especially with the better (heavier) mattresses. Why are they not compensated well for this hard work? Would you do this job for less than $20/hour? Until what age? And why don’t guests say anything pleasant to housekeepers they see in the hotel hallways? (Do you?).
  5. What percentage of guests do you think tip housekeepers? Does this surprise you? Do you encourage meeting participants to tip? (Also see story in the question No. 9 below about what guests tip … at a luxury hotel). What do you tip?
  6. Do you think this hotel—touting their service—compensates its service workers better than others?

Hotels and Amenities:

  1. Why are bathroom products highly scented? Why not unscented ones that anyone, especially those with chemical sensitivities or allergies, can use? Why is there a “war” on bathroom products?
  2. About that non-dairy liquid “creamer” for the in-room coffee, what is it really?
  3. First it was in-room irons and ironing boards which were, if you’re new to the industry, not a standard in hotel rooms. Then “amazing” mattresses. Then flat-screen TVs. Then cooler tech. What’s the next cool thing that will be useful for all? Is it no tables or desks in rooms?
  4. And as a colleague asked, where will one eat? On the bed? And if on the bed, who will change the sheets and covers when something is spilled?
  5. What’s the one amenity (rechargeable flashlights? Clorox or other wipes for the remote and hairdryer?) you still want in a hotel room?

The Meeting Profession:

  1. Who started the rumor—and when—that this (planning) was a glamorous profession?
  2. If this is glamour, how does it compare to other professions that are also considered glamorous?
  3. Andrew Young said, at an MPI meeting many years ago, there had to be a planner for the Last Supper! Who were the innkeepers and planners then and what did they do? How have the professions of innkeeper (hotelier) and planner evolved other than use of technology?
  4. What keeps us doing this year after year? At what age do you think a meeting planner/professional should retire?
  5. What do you prefer to be called: meeting planner? meeting professional? supplaner (with thanks to Charles Chan Massey)? Other?

Meeting Logistics:

  1. Why have the inventors of “air walls” not been held criminally accountable?
  2. Do any hotel bars have lower areas to accommodate people using mobility devices? Where are these places?
  3. In what year do you think hotels will begin to set rooms to maximize education and learning and interaction versus basing space allowance on numbers?
  4. How many planners, in addition to me, have gifted “Seating Matters” to hotels, conference centres and convention centres to ensure learning and interaction matters? (Disclaimer: I wrote the foreword for the book and was not compensated nor am I compensated for recommending it or its sales).


  1. When you think of early days (’50s) of commercial air travel, what do you think most people remember? (Me? Dressing up. Walking out on the tarmac to board the plane).
  2. What’s the liability for airports that serve alcohol unmonitored and flight attendants who serve liberally, especially in First Class, when a passenger misbehaves on a flight or harms her/himself after deplaning?
  3. When did the custom (law?) for traffic to stop for funeral processions end and why?
  4. We tip “redcaps” who take us to trains and tip service personnel on trains. Why don’t we tip flight attendants?
  5. And did you know that flight attendants are paid hourly and that layovers are not paid time? (Thanks to my friend flight attendant, Tim, for sharing all about this).

Sharing Economy:

  1. Would you share a hotel room with a stranger?
  2. How can meetings capitalize on the sharing economy other than reusing flowers from another meeting? Or piggy-backing on a tradeshow for carpet use? Could two or more groups work with hotels and do (continuous) breaks like conference centres?
  3. Will your group(s) book more rooms with Airbnb than hotels?
  4. How are corporate and association policies changing to accommodate use of sharing economy services?

After going through the Chief Question Officer training, my SOP became even more about questions than answers. If you have more questions—or answers and resources—to share, drop them into the comments and refer to the question number to make it easier for others to follow.

Watch for “Friday With Joan” on Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, along with a link to the Meetings Today #Meetings2016 trends survey results. And in case you missed it, here’s a full recap of the 2016 Meetings Trends Twitter Chat, which I moderated for Meetings Today.

Here’s to a healthy, safe new year of learning and supporting each other in the profession we’ve chosen or that chose us.