Over the years, Leslie has been a trusted resource to us and our clients! With over 30 years as an Event Management professional and in her current role as the Director of Meetings at American and International Associations for Dental Research, Leslie has created sustainable value for the association. Leslie’s innovative contributions and industry knowledge makes her a Global Events Visionary.
Leslie took some time out of her busy schedule to share some of her invaluable experience with us…
JN: In your successful career, what are some of the strategies you’ve implemented in global meeting planning/management?
LZ: Don’t assume you know everything there is to know about meetings, even if you have years of experience under your belt, and all of those credentials after your name! Every venue, every destination, and every country have different requirements, regulations and ways of doing things. I compile a list of questions from issues I have learned from each meeting destination and ensure that I ask those questions of each new destination. For example, I ask each new venue, “What unexpected charges or requirements do your clients tell you that they wish they had known in the pre-planning phase of their meeting?” The destination should be forthcoming in providing those details which you should have before you event contract and budget for the meeting!
JN: From your experience as the Director of Meetings, what insights can you provide to international destinations in positioning their product/services in a competitive marketplace?
LZ: I enjoy welcoming destination representatives to our office when they are visiting the USA. I recommend that they be prepared with a comprehensive presentation to include a city map, airlift details and full floor plans. There is a strong chance that after we learn more about a destination, that we can consider it for the future. I recommend that the destination take time to get to know and understand the organization, the event and the clients’ needs. If the client has provided a history of meeting destinations, review it to understand the size, scope and airlift required. If the destination is too small or not in the right rotation, then discuss other possible meetings that may work instead. Request the detailed process for site selection and take notice of when the client’s major meetings are being held to avoid meeting or contacting them at a busy time just before their major meetings and events.
JN: What global legacies or impact is IADR creating?
LZ: IADR has created a Healthy Meetings Policy with oral health and overall health at the forefront of our meetings. We do not provide sugar-sweetened beverages at our meetings, and we work hard to provide healthy food and beverage options for our delegates, including substituting fresh fruits for dessert, and providing healthy snack options like nuts and dried fruits instead of sweets and candies. We also encourage sustainable practices for the meeting to include eco-printing, signage and carpeting, where possible.
JN: What are some of the benefits of planning an international meeting?
LZ: Planning international meetings offers life-long learning and an incredible way to see the world. I always learn something new and unique about planning meetings in every destination, like what to pack in your carry-on baggage in case of a possible labor strike or inclement weather! Our team members usually schedule time after each meeting to explore and experience all that each destination has to offer. This is a wonderful way to relax and unwind after a very hectic meeting and several months of planning.
JN: Any other pointers or advice you would like to share with our readers?
LZ: Be honest about what you know, and don’t know. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, like, “What have you seen disrupt or work well for other meetings and conventions of this size in this destination in the past?” And overall, ask the destination to provide you with the contact information for other planners who have gone boldly before you in managing meetings in those destinations. Someone else’s experience will assuredly be helpful to you in ensuring the success of your own meeting!