25
April

Being ‘Present’ As A Meeting Professional In The Hospitality Industry

redchairRecently, I was reminded why I pursued being an independent meeting planner in the hospitality industry. Full disclosure, this post is coming from a message I heard from my pastor that he themed ‘the one who wasn’t there’.

Certainly, his message was more philosophical and had a greater meaning than what I am sharing. However, it made me think back and remember my ‘why’…why I chose this career path. He told stories about a parent that missed the school concert, ballgame or stayed late in the office and could not help with homework. These parents met the criteria of ‘the one who wasn’t there’.

There are other examples professionally; missing an office event, skipping a community service project or not being engaged with your fellow team members to help with the big presentation. These professionals chose to be ‘the one who wasn’t there’. It can also happen in our personal lives; choosing not to attend the family reunion, wedding, neighborhood cook-out or golf outing with your college friends. These family and friends also were ‘the one who wasn’t there’.

Being in business for myself in the hospitality industry was the best decision I ever made. It has allowed me to be present for all the key events with my family, be accessible and provide excellent service to my customers and has enabled me to have balance personally and professionally. It has allowed me to dream and achieve this quote: “When you’re in business for yourself, you write your own history, you write your own success story, you write your own legacy and most important, you write your own paycheck,” Jeffrey Gitomer, best-selling author.

We have many choices as we progress in our careers. Please choose the path that will enable you to be ‘the one who was there’.

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5
April

Entrepreneurs: 9 Areas to Focus on When Setting Up Your Business

successI enjoy researching small businesses, franchises and independent hospitality professionals to learn how they successfully set up and run their businesses. From my observations, the following are nine areas to focus on when setting up and growing your business: 

  1. Why

    a. Make sure you are specific with ‘why’ you want to be in business for yourself. It should be greater than just wanting to make more money.

  1. Go Public

    a. If you truly are going to do it, you have to go public and tell others your plans. This helps keep you accountable to achieving your goal.

  1. Experience / Expertise

    a. It is best to focus on a business that matches your experience and where you have expertise.

  1. Support Group

    a. Make sure you have a support group in place to get your through the period of transition,
    b. In addition, it is healthy to have these outside eyes looking at your business and offering advice.

  1. Financing

    a. Have you set aside the funds needed to support your business and yourself during the ramp-up period?
    b. Do you need a small business loan or line of credit to get you through the start-up phase or to take your business to the next level?
    c. Are you continuing to set aside funds and investing in your business?

  1. Business Development to grow your business (get out and spread the word about your business).

    a. Make sure you have a clear mission statement for your business.
    b. Make sure you have a clear positioning statement on the value proposition of your business and your potential customers.
    c. Create your personal brand standards (what you are going to do for your customers).
    d. Practice you elevator speech so you are ready to share it at all times.
    e. Referrals and Networking are two of the best ways to build your base of customers.

  1. Balance Growth and Servicing Accounts (you need both your existing and new customers)

    a. Growing accounts is important and you should dedicate time to this area every week.
    b. Servicing accounts- you need to balance the servicing of those customers that you currently work with to make sure they remain your loyal customer and refer others to you.
    c. Don’t have only one client or all your eggs in one basket…diversify your business.

  1. Business Operations (make sure you address all of the day-to-day issues of running your business)

    a. How are you going to compensate yourself?
    b. Are you setting aside money for:

    1. Accounting/Bookkeeping support
    2. Taxes
    3. Retirement
    4. Insurance
    5. Legal support
    6. Future capital expenses (computer, phone, etc.)

    c.Do you have your office set up to achieve maximum productivity?

    d. Have you set clear hours of operation (set and stick to your office hours)

  1. Partnering (with colleagues, others in the industry, family, friends)

    a. One of the best ways to grow your business is to partner with others that are connected with you, committed to your success and will assist you on your journey.
    b. Make sure you are partnering with people you trust.
    c. Make sure you have your working relationship in writing (even with family and friends).
    d. Remember that you can meet potential partners via networking (get out and meet people).

If your dream is to be in business for yourself, be intentional with your actions that will ensure you achieve your goal. Now it’s time to get after it and make your business a huge success!

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28
March

Doug Baarman Receives Annual Alliance Award

D2013DougBaarmanCroppedoug Baarman, ConferenceDirect’s Senior Vice President/Team Director, was honored with ConferenceDirect’s Alliance Award for 2015. He was recognized and presented the award at the ConferenceDirect Awards Dinner during its Annual Partner Meeting in San Antonio, Texas, on Sunday, March 6, 2016.

The Alliance Award is presented to the Associate who best embraces all aspects of hospitality business services in order to better meet his or her customers’ needs.

Doug joined ConferenceDirect in 2007, and has over 25 years of career experience on both sides of the industry, nearly 20 of which were with Marriott International.

“Doug is the perfect choice for this award, because he so exemplifies what ConferenceDirect has grown to be: a full service meetings solutions company. He represents the best of what we can offer on so many levels, and we’re so very happy to have him honored with this,” said Brian D. Stevens, ConferenceDirect’s Chief Executive Officer.

Based in Los Angeles, California, ConferenceDirect is a full-service global meetings solution company whose portfolio of services includes: Site Selection & Contract Negotiation, Conference Management, Housing & Registration Services, Mobile App Technology and Strategic Meetings Management Programs. Our 325+ Associates manage over 9,800 meetings, conferences and events annually for more than 2,500 customers. For more information, visit ConferenceDirect at www.conferencedirect.com ###

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22
February

Entrepreneurship: Risk or Freedom?

WeWantFreedomWhy do people choose to be independent business owners in the meetings and events industry? First, most successful business owners will tell you that they want to be their own bosses and enjoy tremendous freedom. They also will share from their experience that self-employment is less risky and more rewarding than working for others.

As shared in the book, ‘The Millionaire Next Door’:

A professor once asked a group of sixty MBA students who were executives of public corporations this question.

What is risk?

One student replied: being an entrepreneur.

His fellow students agreed. Then the professor answered his own question with a quote from an entrepreneur:

What is risk? Having only one source of income. Employees are at risk…they have a single source of income. What about the entrepreneur who sells janitorial services to your employers? He has hundreds and hundreds of customers…hundreds and hundreds of sources of income.

Actually, there is considerable financial risk in being a business owner. But business owners have a set of beliefs that helps them reduce their risk or at least their perceived risk:

  • I’m in control of my destiny
  • I can solve any problem
  • The only way to become a CEO is to own the company
  • There are no limits on the amount of income I can make
  • I get stronger and wiser every day by facing risk and adversity

Being a business owner does mean you will need to assume some risk. But as was shared above, the risks can be managed and the rewards are greater than anticipated. From my own first-hand experience, it is great to be a small business owner in the meetings and events industry. Do I have any regrets? Only one…I should have pursued this path earlier in my hospitality career.

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28
December

Independent Hospitality Professionals: Road to No Regrets

the-road-ahead-1196457-639x852As independent hospitality professionals, it is time to look back on the past year and establish our plan for the upcoming year. This often means we will come face to face with our regrets about past decisions, actions taken or not, both personally and professionally.

“I wish I’d taken that job.”

“I should have pursued my idea.”

I should have introduced myself to that person.”

“I should have taken that trip.”

“I wish I would not have given up on my dream.”

Most of the time, we use regrets to keep us from moving forward. They paralyze us in the face of the possibilities that lie before us. The key for moving forward is to forgive yourself, because the regrets you are carrying around are keeping you from reaching your true potential.

Recently, one of my mentors shared his learnings with me. “Don’t ever regret taking a shot. Even if you fall short, you learn from it and move on.  You can’t live your life regretting things you tried that didn’t work out.”

He continued:

“You want to talk about regrets?  The biggest regrets you’ll ever have will come from things you don’t do.  They’ll come from great ideas you never acted on.  They’ll come from the potential friend or significant other you didn’t talk to.  Those are things you’ll regret.  Because you’ll never know what might have happened.”

So what does this mean for you?

The one thing that separates the successful from those striving for success is that successful people take action to achieve their desired results. The others always talk about what could have been….but never take action. Sadly, they will probably still be talking at this same time next year!

It is time to take action…no regrets!

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20
November

Entrepreneurship Lifestyle in the Hospitality Industry

career-479578_1280We are finally slowing down from a busy stretch in the meetings and events industry. This has enabled me to attend Parents Weekend at my daughters’ college. At the last minute, I was able to extend my visit and spend some quality time with my daughter. This independent work model within the hospitality industry enables me to make last minute adjustments and spend more time with my family.

As independent hospitality management professionals, we live by the quote I am sharing below. We choose to embrace this philosophy and pursue our dream of being an independent business owner within the meeting and event planning industry.

Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t”. Anonymous

You could make this lifestyle work for you as well. You can control your life, your career and have unlimited earning potential. The key is to work with an organization and leader that has a proven track record of helping individuals make the transition successfully from employee…to entrepreneur and in control of their life. It is not a leap after little thought, but a strategic move where you need a roadmap to success. You need a coach and mentor to lead you through the process…I know because I have been this person for over 100 people who have successfully made the transition.

I am thankful for this opportunity in our industry so I can enjoy more quality time with my daughter. I hope one day it will work for you as well.

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29
September

Hospitality Industry Professionals: What Business Are We In?

We aren’t in the coffee business serving people. We are in the people business serving coffee.” Howard Schultz- Founder and Chairman, Starbucks

greek-coffee-1328798-639x511I shared this quote in a 2011 blog post and am amazed at the reaction I continue to get from this simple message. This Howard Schultz philosophy continues to drive the culture he wants for Starbucks to be successful.

This quote should make all of us think…what business are we in? We introduce ourselves as working as a meeting planner, or in the hospitality industry, hotel business, or name the specific organization where we work. But, when we respond to this question, do we truly understand the business that we are in?

I agree with Howard Schultz and the vision he has for his company. Starbucks is in the people business serving coffee while creating an environment that offers a desirable experience. In the hospitality industry, we are in the people business providing great individual guest and group meeting experiences. We help bring people together to discuss important topics that can change the course of an individual, an organization, a country and perhaps even the world. It is human relationships and interactions that create the experience we desire. Sure, our facilities provide great beds, meals and meeting rooms – but the people provide the environment that enables the guest stay or meeting to be a desirable experience.

The hospitality industry is an exciting career choice. Let’s make sure we always remember what business we are really in…the people business.

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7
September

Taking Care of Business in the Hospitality Industry

2015-09-07_9-01-23When people ask why I became an independent hospitality professional, I reply with the following. I was taking care of business to achieve my dream utilizing my experience of over 25 years in the hospitality industry.

I will admit that I have always been a huge Elvis Presley fan. His entire entourage (the Memphis Mafia) had the initials TCB on them for Taking Care of Business. This name came from the TCB Band which was the name he selected for his band when they went on tour. The Taking Care of Business slogan is one he adopted for both his personal and professional life. I think this is a great acronym and slogan for all of us in the hospitality industry.

Our industry is in an economically strong period with demand at an all-time high. It has challenged me to sit back and ask…what is my definition of taking care of business for my business? The following are five things I feel are important to achieving success:

1. Be intentional…those with a game plan and are specific about what they want, achieve their dreams.

2. Take action…TODAY!

3. Do not fear failure…be willing to take risks that may not work out as planned.

4. Pick yourself up when you fall down…when you do fail, learn from what went wrong and get back in the game.

5. Celebrate your successes…TODAY!

Elvis was ahead of his time with his music. He may have also been ahead of his time with a leadership and management philosophy that could help each of us be more successful each day.

Are you taking care of business?

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28
July

Hospitality Professionals: Lessons on Focus and Distractions

a-helping-hand-2-1439048-638x597As we strive to achieve success in the hospitality industry, we need to have the ability to prioritize and focus on the activities that will get us to our desired goal.

Recently, I watched a parent, who was just home from work, take their three small children out to ride their bikes. Since seeing kids play outside is not as common as the days of my childhood, this caught my attention and I stopped to observe them.

My excitement quickly turned to disappointment as I watched the parent spend the entire time looking at their phone (even as the kids were laughing and screaming ‘look at me’). The parent was trying to do multiple things at once and was not focused on the opportunity right before them – being engaged in quality time with their kids.

This reminded me of times when I’ve spoken in front of a group at meetings. As you look out into the audience, you see many on their phones and other personal devices, not engaged in the presentation or the activity right in front of them. I often wonder why they took the time and spent the money to attend the conference if they have other matters that are more important. As hospitality industry professionals that believe in the importance of face-to-face meetings, we need to lead by example and demonstrate how to get the most out of these personal interactions. It is not a positive to boast that you are a good multi-tasker. There are many studies (especially for us men) that demonstrate multi-tasking actually makes you less productive. Instead of trying to do multiple tasks at once, let’s show others how to increase their productivity by: 1) staying focused on the present 2) not being distracted and 3) prioritizing our tasks so we can give each one the focus it deserves.

I want to thank this parent for reminding me to focus on my priorities so I can ensure success in the hospitality industry!

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22
June

7 Tips For Success As An Entrepreneur In The Hospitality Industry

career-479578_1280The following are 7 tips to help entrepreneurs be successful in the hospitality industry. These points come from my years of experience as an independent contractor and from the 100+ individuals that have joined me.

1. Have a clearly defined game plan
Without directions or a map, you will never find your desired destination. The same is true with your career. Without a plan for success…you plan to fail.

2. Take Action
Do one thing every day that will get you closer to your goal.

3. Be Prepared Financially
Start investing in yourself today! Set aside funds for when you decide to go on your own. This money will help you through the ‘start-up’ phase. In addition, money management is often an obstacle to our success. Now is the time to prepare and learn the skills needed to be fiscally responsible.

4. Overcome Frustration
One of the largest obstacles to achieving your dream is allowing frustration to sway your focus. You have to be able to fight through the challenges that you will face along the way and maintain a positive attitude.

5. Overcome Rejection
We all dislike being told ‘no’. I have written several posts on this subject. The key is to understand that, to be successful, you will face lots of rejection. You need to become effective at facing and overcoming rejection.

6. Don’t Become Complacent
When you reach a goal…set new ones. Do not become comfortable at any single point along your journey. You need to push your boundaries to reach your dream.

7. Have a Goal to Give Back
Focus on giving first and not worrying about whether or not you will receive in return. Being successful and building a great living enables you to live a happier life and give back.

“When you’re in business for yourself, you write your own history, you write your own success story, you write your own legacy and most important, you write your own paycheck,” Jeffrey Gitomer, best-selling author. The journey to success as an entrepreneur is not an easy or short trip, but it will be worth it and it will change your life for the better.

Is it time for you to consider being an entrepreneur in the hospitality industry?

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