Interviews with Planners – Meghan Lee

A former member of the Society of Government Meeting Planners, Meghan Lee has planned major public relations events around the country and has worked at events sites, such as Red Rocks, Pentagon, Boston Convention Center, and has designed and managed a conference on a Western-Caribbean cruise. She has over ten years of experience with athletic, political, government, military, and social events. She best is known for her ability to calm the frazzled, relax the uptight, and manage those who are overwhelmed. Meghan lives in Fredericksburg, VA with her husband, Robert and their two children and fluffy corgi-mix.

What is the best advice you have ever received as a planner? 
Always present yourself in a calm state, no matter the given situation. Anxious behavior has a way of rubbing off onto others and escalating difficult situations.

What is the most unique location you have ever planned an event at? What was great, what was challenging?
A 7-day cruise! Once we left the departure port, I had to deal with anything that happened with the tools I had on hand. I did not have the option to run to FedEx Office or Walmart to purchase a problem-solving item. It was the ultimate problem solving and creativity test. During one of our session, we had an internet connectivity problem, and there was nothing that I could do to fix it. After the session was over, I had to explain to my supervisor what had happened. It was a moment of integrity and humbleness. Thankfully, my supervisor was very understanding of what I had been up against during the session.

What advice would you give to someone entering the business today?
Have an open mind to your path. This industry is so broad that you can start in one area, and realize that you are better suited serving a different niche. Continue to learn and network. Take classes in design, business, project management, and hospitality.

What do you see as the most challenging aspect of being a planner, and how do you overcome that challenge?
The biggest challenge is when your clients have different goals from one another. Being between differing opinions is tough and challenges a planner's ability to resolve conflict. A successful outcome is being able to make each contributor feel important and heard. In these situations, it isn't always about the differing opinions, but another underlying issue that tends to show up in other ways. Remembering to remove yourself from the conflict and to remain neutral will bring you to the best outcome for the situation.

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How do you think our industry will evolve in the next five years?
The industry continues to integrate technology in any way that it can. I'm expecting there to be even more of a social media presence at all event types.

What makes you successful as a planner?
My background in logistics and operations, and a love for a strong scheduled event plan. A client once compared me to a U.S. Marine logistics officer, because of my ability to keep the event moving, and for allowing him to host his guests, without stressing over details.

I also credit my grit and persistence at bettering my craft. The event planning industry is hard. The days are long, and the stress never seems to dissipate, but the thankfulness and the joy of my clients make me work harder to exceed their expectations. Choosing not to settle for my best continues to push my ability to serve the industry and my clients.

In your opinion, what is the best and worst industry trend of the year?
Best trend - the industry's embrace of the pantone color of the year.

Worst trend - trying to make QR Codes still happen. Great when used to check guests in but terrible for providing guests with more information. Not everyone has a QR Code scanner and not everyone has a data plan to download a reader to get the information

What is the best industry book that has helped you as a planner?
Emily Post's Etiquette, 19th Edition: Manners for Today (Emily's Post's Etiquette)

Meghan Lee
Partner, Bella Giornata Events and Design


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