The Truth About Training: Sharper Skills Increases Service Value

By Marilyn Healey President , Association for Convention Operations Management | May 21, 2010

While the first and foremost objective of a Convention Services Manager (CSM) at a hotel, convention center or convention and visitors bureau (CVB) is to give meeting planners, their clients and attendees an outstanding customer service experience, CSMs and planners agree that a commitment to continuing education is key to keeping their verve for customer service sharp.

Over 80% of corporate and association meeting planners report CSMs "greatly affect" their perception of a venue and 100% of planners feel CSMs have a "significant impact" on the successful execution of their meetings, according to a recent survey conducted by the Association for Convention Operations Management (ACOM), which serves the continuing education needs of convention services professionals.

Once a meeting venue is booked by a meeting planner, the CSM functions as an "in-house meeting planner," orchestrating unique meeting options and customized services on the supply side by working synergistically with the planner to effectively achieve meeting or convention goals in their facility.

"A successful meeting is a team effort here, but every team needs a leader," says Devon Sloan, director of events at the Hilton Tucson El Conquistador. "In a hotel, that leader is the CSM. We work with both the meeting planner and the property's team to make sure the goals of the meeting are communicated and that we're all focused on those goals."

Interdisciplinary continuing education opportunities, meaning those that explore best practices in working together with other meeting professionals, can therefore only increase one's expertise and value to their organization.

Many nonprofit associations such as ACOM and the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) provide valuable continuing education opportunities including various conferences and live webinars that feature industry leaders or experts in a related industry. CSMs, meeting planners and hotel executives alike should take a proactive interest in their careers and keep a finger on the pulse of the industry's changing trends.

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