5 Tips for Celebrating Your Behind-the-Scenes Team

Planning a meeting takes a village. Here’s how to keep your people happy and productive while staying on budget.

Meeting planning sometimes feels like a very solitary job, especially at 5:00 a.m. when you are checking room sets in a quiet hall, or at midnight when you are loading up that last bus, seemingly the only person who wants to get some sleep. But the reality is that it takes dozens of people to make an event successful.

On the venue side, you need the salespeople and the finance team to get the contract signed. You need the chefs and their teams for the food and beverage. You need the banquet team to set tables and serve food. You need the house team to put the tables and chairs where they are supposed to be and make sure the room looks perfect. You need the AV team and various supporting labor roles to ensure the room is lit, and everything sounds good, and the stage is interesting, and the content displays. You need your CSM to pull everything together. And all of this could be just for your general session.

Of course, you have your own supporting organizational teams: handing out badges, and directing people to the bathrooms, and putting out signs, and running microphones, and stuffing conference bags, and all of the various other tasks it takes to deliver a seamless experience.

And don’t forget how the city supports your event as well, from the airport to the transportation, to the special venues, to the stores and culture. And there are so many more that I am sure I’m neglecting to mention.

One of the reasons we put on events is to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We bring people together around a common topic or theme to celebrate the meaning of whatever our focus is, and to advance our missions and industries. In order to do this, we have to embrace a community of people to help us create the experiences and environments to transform our attendees.

This year, I’m going to make an effort to do a better job of celebrating these behind-the-scenes teams that make me look great. Here are some ideas if you’d like to join me:

  1. Tips are always welcome in venues but be sure you budget for this and prepare in advance by bringing cash. It can be helpful to set a policy for tips as well.
  2. A handwritten thank-card is very meaningful. Keep a stack in your travel bag and be liberal in handing them out.
  3. When you want to recognize a group of people, consider giving the manager some money for a team pizza party. It’s a nice way to show appreciation that is easy on your budget.
  4. An email to someone’s boss is a nice way to recognize if someone has gone above and beyond. This is helpful to both the individual and their boss to have on file when review time comes around.
  5. If you really want to go all out, you can try something like creating award certificates that relate to your event and relate to people’s contributions.

If you want to see how we at 360 Live Media are celebrating our own behind-the-scenes creative team, check out this video.

Interested in more? Subscribe to “Otter Talk,” a bi-monthly newsletter that highlights trends, ideas, and actionable takeaways for your association events, written by an experienced member of the planning community who has lived the “planning life.”

Beth Surmont, the Director of Experience Design for 360 Live Media, has nearly 20 years of professional planning experience. A Certified Meeting Planner (CMP) since 2008 and Certified Association Executive (CAE) since 2016, Beth has worked in both the corporate and nonprofit sectors and has a wide range of knowledge, with experience in almost every aspect of meeting planning, from registration, to logistics, to program management and production.

(Sarah Pflug/Burst)