Entrepreneurship in the Hospitality Industry

solo sunsetAs 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

Does this lifestyle interest you? If you want to control your life, your career and have unlimited earning potential, I can help ensure your success in this model. I have a proven track record over the past 13 years helping nearly 100 individuals make the transition successfully from employee…to entrepreneur in control of their life. It is not a leap after little thought, but a strategic move with a roadmap to success. You need a coach and mentor to lead you through the process…I can be that person for you.

Let me know when you are ready to talk…it never hurts to at least talk!

No comments yet


6 Questions to Help Achieve Your New Year’s Resolutions

Champagne glassesAs I took time away from meeting and event planning to visit family in Florida, I was reminded that every year I make New Year’s Resolutions and every year I quickly break them. In an effort to reverse this bad habit, I am on a personal quest to help myself and others achieve their resolutions this year.

Is one of your resolutions to find a better balance between work and family? Is it time to break away from your current role and consider becoming an independent meeting professional? If so, I can help you!

Before making this decision, the following are six (6) questions that you need to ask yourself:

1. Do I have the experience and skills needed to become a trusted advisor and consultant to my customers?

2. Do I have a large enough personal and professional network (organizations and contacts at those
organizations that you could be of service to in your new role)?

3. Do I have the support group that will be with me and encourage me throughout the journey?

4. Do I have the business acumen (you will be starting your own business and need to think like an
entrepreneur/small business owner) to ensure success?

5. Am I motivated and dedicated to do all that it will take to achieve success?

6. How long is my runway (how much time, funding and support will you have to get your business going)?

The end of one year and the beginning of another is a great time to reflect and review what you have accomplished in the past year. It is also the time to resolve what you are going to do to make the future brighter. The new year has the potential to be something very special and I hope this information sparks your desire to find a better balance in your life and to have more control of your future

If you or someone you know is considering a change in 2015, please reach out to me for a confidential conversation about the six questions above.

No comments yet


Hospitality Industry Professionals: A New Resource

MeetingListslogoThis item is specific to my hospitality industry partners. Do you want to book more group business? Do you have the resource available to generate the leads that will help you reach your goal?

There is a new company in our industry that has helped my team and may be able to help you: www.meetinglists.com. We used them because it provided us with access to current, detailed and accurate data that was targeted to our specific needs. It was easy to use, enabled us to establish our own search criteria and remained within our varied budgets.

This is a great way to connect the industry partners that need group meeting business with those that need to find a home for their programs. This data can also be used for:

  • Marketing campaigns
  • Sales blitzes
  • To fill dates open due to cancellations
  • To assist in making your sales trips more productive

I like to share industry resources that can potentially help us when I come across them. Please let me know what you think of this new website.

No comments yet


The Value of Attending Hospitality Industry Events

conferenceI’ve recently attended a few of the larger industry events that took place in Nashville, Las Vegas and Atlanta. Being in the same location with so many of my hospitality industry peers reminded me of why I am so proud to be a part of this industry:

  • Great people – We have some of the best and brightest talent of any industry. This is a great opportunity to ask questions, share experiences and learn from one another.
  • Great results – Bringing people together is how great things get accomplished. Nothing can replace a handshake, a smile and face-to-face conversations.
  • Great career opportunities – These events power global business and represent all sectors of our industry. The opportunity each of us has and the jobs our industry creates for so many are truly amazing.

In addition to being reminded of the above, the education offered during these events is the best way to stay current with our industry. As the economy and our industry continue to improve, our expertise in each of the areas that we specialize in, are needed more than ever.

I hope you will all take the time to get out and get involved in our great industry with great people and great opportunities. What is the next event you plan to attend?


No comments yet


A Special Offer to Celebrate My Independent Meeting Planning Anniversary With You

sparklesparkleI am interrupting my regularly scheduled blog posts with this anniversary message. This month marks the 7th anniversary of starting my independent meeting planning business affiliated with ConferenceDirect.

I am delighted to share this celebration with you by bringing you 7 things I have learned since beginning this journey, 7 recent trends in our industry and a great offer to ensure success for you over the next 7 years (and hopefully longer).

 7 Things I Have Learned Since Beginning This Journey

1. Customers partner with people and organizations they know and trust.
2. Offer value to those you work with and hope to work with before you ask for     anything.
3. Network- it is important to be active in your industry and community. Get out and build your professional and personal connections.
4. Referrals- give (first) and then ask for business referrals.
5. It takes hard work to be successful- I have always followed the philosophy that success only comes before work in the dictionary.
6. Give back- once you are able, it is rewarding to give back (time or money) to your community and industry.
7. Have fun and enjoy what you are doing (or find something else).

7 Recent Trends In Our Industry

1. Technology: access to Wi-Fi is now a standard requirement (not just a nice to have) in the guest and meeting rooms.
2. Food & Beverage at events is no longer just a necessity; it is becoming a part of the event experience. We are seeing:

a. Local sourcing- farm to table
b. Food trucks- a unique way to offer menu variety in a fun atmosphere
c. Tasting stations that focus on pairing food with craft beer, wine and cocktails
d. Healthy options that contribute to the attendees ability to stay engaged and ensure the success of the event

3. The number of meetings being held is again increasing.
4. More organizations are including green meeting initiatives as a core part of their event plan.
5. With demand increasing faster than supply, it is harder to find availability and the contract negotiations are more difficult.
6. Social Media needs to be incorporated into the before, during and after plan of the event to both promote the event and ensure the overall experience meets your attendees needs.
7. Community Service/Giving Back is being incorporated into more events.

Special Offer

For those who want to learn more about meeting management companies to either:

  • earn more business from meeting management companies
  • learn more about being an independent meeting planner like me

I will offer a complimentary 30 minute consultation session. You have my guarantee that it will be confidential and will not be an advertisement for the organization that I am affiliated with. It will be a conversation as industry peers who want to grow and improve. Together, we can make the next 7 years a huge success.

Please email me today to set up a conversation at: doug.baarman@conferencedirect.com

No comments yet


Passion and Hospitality of a Small Business Owner

wineBy Doug Baarman

On a recent trip to Europe, I had the pleasure of visiting hotels and spending time in beautiful towns throughout western Italy. Upon meeting the owner of a small shop in Sorrento, Italy – I realized he demonstrated what all small business owners must have – PASSION!

He was so proud of his wines (some straight from the family vineyard), olive oil (all from the family farm) in addition to many other products in his shop. He wanted us to enjoy his goods and literally opened a bottle of wine and shared it with our group while we shopped. His passion for his product translated into a very nice sale as many in our group were eager to purchase wine and olive oil from him.

A career in the hospitality industry is all about passion. You have to enjoy what you do so much so, that your enthusiasm will be conveyed by your customers and felt by everyone that you come into contact with. Think about the sales or service experiences that you have enjoyed the most and that have left a lasting impression. I am sure the person you were dealing with was passionate about the product or service they were representing…and you caught their enthusiasm.

Do your customers feel your passion for your business?

No comments yet


Giving Back in the Hospitality Industry

hammer nails

By Doug Baarman

I lead a team of independent meeting planners in the hospitality industry. This summer, I’ve made the decision to work on the third pillar of our team’s mission- ‘giving back’. I am taking time away from the office for personal reasons and it is not easy…but thanks to our great team and the help of my support staff, I am able to do it.

First, I spent a week on a Habitat for Humanity trip in New Jersey. I decided to join this trip at the last minute and I am glad I did. I enjoyed giving back to the community that needed help…they are still rebuilding nearly two years after Super Storm Sandy. It was also nice to spend time with the young adults who participated. If you need to learn some new things and get re-energized…teenagers/young adults will definitely open your eyes to the world in a new way. It was a very rewarding experience.

This was my effort to ‘give back’ to our community.

Second, my family just returned from a vacation to Europe celebrating our birthdays. We have tried to coordinate this trip for several years, this time we decided to stop making excuses and make it happen. It was a great opportunity to experience some incredible sights, learn first-hand about the history of Spain and Italy and spend quality time with my family- especially my oldest daughter who will be going off to college very soon.

This is my effort to ‘give back’ to my family who have supported me and cheered me on over the past 7 years as I have started and grown my own business.

Overall, my goal is to make sure I have my priorities in line and taking the time to focus on the third pillar of our mission: “Build a Great Living / Live a Happier Life / Give Back”. It would not be possible to ‘give back’ without first putting in the time and effort to build a strong business. I hope that you will be able to do the same this summer or in the near future.

How are you giving back?

No comments yet


Hospitality Professionals: Lessons from a High School Graduation


By Doug Baarman

Recently, I had the pleasure of stepping away from my meeting and event planning world to enjoy my daughter’s high school graduation.

Graduation is defined as: “a person who successfully completed a course of study or training.” From my personal experience, it is a time of transition in our lives; an ending and a beginning at the same moment.

As I listened to the speakers during her ceremony and reflected on my high school graduation, I had a few thoughts:

  • On graduation day, we are full of hope and have big dreams for our future.
  • We have the energy and passion to pursue these goals.
  • We are confident that nothing will stand in our way and we will achieve our dreams.
  • We promise to stay positive and pick ourselves up when we fall short of our goals.
  • On graduation day, we embrace the responsibility that is given us during this transition.

Often times as we progress through life, we get caught up in being ‘busy’ and forget the hope, energy, confidence, promise and responsibility that we had on graduation day. As professionals in the hospitality industry, are we still full of hope and pursuing our dreams with energy and passion? Are we confident in what we are doing, keeping our promises and accepting the responsibilities given us? 

No comments yet


ConferenceDirect Announces Team Director of the Year

2013DougBaarmanDoug Baarman Receives Award for top performance and leadership for fourth consecutive year

Doug Baarman, Senior Vice President of Sales was recognized for the fourth year in a row as ConferenceDirect’s Team Director of Year. He was honored at the ConferenceDirect Awards Dinner during its Annual Partner Meeting in Anaheim, California on Sunday, March 23, 2014.

Doug joined ConferenceDirect in July of 2007 with over 25 years of sales, marketing and event management experience within the hospitality industry. Prior to joining ConferenceDirect, Doug gained an insider’s perspective from working on both sides of the industry with experience from some of the largest hotel companies – Marriott International and Gaylord Hotels and from the buyer’s side – Liberty Mutual and National Trade Productions. During his career with Marriott International, he broke new ground as the leader of a Field Sales team focused on new business development, with an independent structure and an alternative compensation model. This was an industry first within a chain’s national sales system. Doug was also Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Marriott ExecuStay which was an acquisition that needed to be integrated with their other brands. At Gaylord Hotels, he helped establish the pre-opening team for the largest hotel ever built in the Washington, DC area. At National Trade Productions, Doug was responsible for exhibit sales for shows targeting the government and government contractor markets.

Doug is an active member of MPI and on the Customer Advisory Board for the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau. He is a graduate of Ferris State University where he received a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management.

Doug has owned this recognition for the past four years due to his determination, drive and focus on his team,” said Brian Stevens, President and Chief Executive Officer of ConferenceDirect.

Doug can be reached at (301) 605-7011 or via email at doug.baarman@conferencedirect.com.

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 8,700 meetings, conferences and events annually for more than 2,500 customers.  

No comments yet


Why Did You Become an Independent Meeting Planner?

thumbs up
By Doug Baarman

Those that follow my posts know that I lead an incredible team of independent meeting planners based around the United States and Canada. Most of them made the move from employee of a corporation or organization, so this was their first experience in an independent work model. I recently asked them to respond to a simple question using only four words to answer: why did you become an independent meeting planner?

The following are a sample of the responses that I received:

  • Servicing customers I love
  • Family, freedom, unlimited success
  • More time with family
  • Get my life back
  • To achieve a dream
  • To design my future
  • Do what I love
  • Able to service others
  • Potential for great lifestyle
  • Autonomy and earning potential
  • Freedom, experience, leadership, money
  • The flexibility and lifestyle
  • No more office politics
  • Experience, opportunity and growth
  • Control of my future

It was interesting to review the results as most were able to articulate in just four words ‘why they became an independent meeting planner’. It was also refreshing to see that their reasons took into account their overall dream and their greater focus which is more than purely financial.

Please try this simple exercise. Using just four words, why did you choose your current role in the hospitality industry? 


No comments yet

Back to top