How to Make Better Business Decisions

Anticipation is the key to succeeding in today's fast-changing and unpredictable meetings environment.

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Photograph by Sergey Nivens for Adobe Stock

Destination Texas
Scott Steinberg will be onstage at Northstar Meetings Group's Destination Texas hosted-buyer event, taking place Dec. 5-7 at the Kimpton Harper Hotel in Fort Worth. His topic at breakfast on Dec. 7 will be "A Futurist’s Guide to Attendee Engagement."

Between continuing economy volatility, rising geopolitical uncertainty, and a seemingly endless parade of unexpected events and surprises, meeting and event planners increasingly face a world of disruption. Thankfully for meeting professionals, and the many vendors and suppliers who support them, learning to navigate today’s topsy-turvy business environment successfully isn't difficult. 

As a keynote speaker and workshop presenter who’s helped hundreds of organizations and meeting planners adapt to change and emerging trends, I’m pleased to report that you don’t need psychic powers or superhuman intuition to see ahead of the curve. In fact, succeeding in this fast-changing and unpredictable as meetings marketplace doesn't take a single-minded or visionary leader any more. Rather, it’s about becoming more of an anticipatory leader — and adding more forethought and planning to every effort.

Shifting focus

You can begin to better plan for tomorrow, and become more of an anticipatory leader, just by asking yourself three simple questions:

  • Financial gains aside, how can you always ensure you’re finding ways to win with every opportunity — such as gaining new capabilities and resources that can be applied to other ventures? For instance: Despite initial upfront investment costs (and possible losses), perhaps it makes sense to launch a series of educational salons to introduce yourself to industry leaders in new verticals your company would like to target in the future.
  • Just how adaptable are the strategies and solutions that you’re considering pursuing — and if they fall short, just how readily can you repurpose tools, technologies and the insights gained in new and novel ways, or use them to pivot to new opportunities? For example: If you put on an online event and sales are lower then anticipated, perhaps you could leverage the technology platforms, content formats or speaker relationships to underpin a program on another, more marketable topic.
  • Where and to what extent could your efforts in any given business area quickly translate to other contexts or industries? Case in point: Maybe the events you’ve been planning for C-suite leaders in the medical space could also appeal, with tweaks and adjustments, to executives in the chemical engineering or consumer products world, as well, or to employees further down in your organization’s food chain.

In effect, before making business investments of any kind — including those related to time, effort or energy — you should look beyond financial opportunities alone and consider: How well do these initiatives support us in the pursuit of our overall goals and strategies? And if sudden, unexpected developments call even the best-laid plans into question, how quickly can we use them as a springboard to other ventures? 

More considerations

Here are some other helpful questions that you can ask yourself as a meetings industry professional, as you work to adapt to change and emerging events:

  • Can you or your associates learn from a given opportunity, and/or leverage your existing capabilities and talents in new and novel ways by pursuing it? Will taking the opportunity help grow your or your organization’s capabilities and experience, or introduce you to new contacts, markets or audiences? What other upsides might you gain as the result of pursuing this option?
  • What will be the expense will the opportunity take? Will you lose other opportunities (e.g. putting on other industry events), limit your capacity to take on new work or explore other developments, etc.? If you choose to pursue a given opportunity, will you achieve benefits that are one-offs, recurring or permanent?
  • Are competitors finding success with similar opportunities? How so? Is there a way to do so in a similar — or, better yet, quicker, more impactful or cost-effective — fashion? Who can assist you in your efforts to innovate? And are there preexisting resources, capabilities or solutions that you can repurpose to speed up your efforts?
  • In any given business dealings, are the deal terms acceptable? Where are the potential pain points? What leverage does each party hold? What terms need to be negotiated, and what are you or your organization willing to compromise on or concede? Which terms are deal breakers, or not open for discussion?
  • When competing against others for a specific opportunity, how does your relative pricing and value stack up? What unique sales points and value propositions set you apart and differentiate you from rivals?
  • Can work created as part of any given project or opportunity be repurposed? How? And how do these options align with your overall objectives, and how much more effectively can they help you accomplish your goals?

For all meeting professionals, learning to make smarter strategic decisions largely a function of your willingness to exercise a little bit more planning and forethought. Likewise, picking the right strategic option for your organization is simply a function or being a bit more proactive and pointed in the questions that you choose to ask.

As any experienced event planner can tell you, building a winning game plan in this fast-changing industry starts with defining big-picture goals, then working backward to break them down into specific tactics and action steps. Achieving this goal becomes much easier when you take a few minutes to pause upfront and ask yourself some strategic questions, and leave yourself a little more room to maneuver. 

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Trends expert and futurist Scott Steinberg

Award-winning professional speaker and management consultant Scott Steinberg has created a new teaching and training method called Pop Future. A trends expert and futurist, Steinberg has advised more than 1,000 brands, and is the bestselling author of Think Like a Futurist; Make Change Work for You; and Fast >> Forward: How to Turbo-Charge Business, Sales, and Career Growth. He is also president and CEO of BIZDEV: The International Association for Business Development and Strategic Partnerships.