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From a Meeting Planner Perspective: How to Manage Difficult Clients

From a Meeting Planner Perspective: How to Manage Difficult Clients

Let’s face it: meeting planning is a service-oriented business, so there will be times when you will encounter a difficult client. Although 90% of your clients will likely be wonderful, it’s how you handle the other 10% that will determine whether or not you will become a successful meeting planner. Solving difficult problems and managing challenging situations are simply part of the job. Whether you have a know-it-all client or a client who keeps changing their mind, we wanted to offer you a few suggestions to successfully manage these and other difficult clients.

Be a Good Listener

The best thing you can do is to listen closely to what the client says and take notes. Ask a lot of questions and repeat their answers to them, so everyone is on the same page. Many meeting planners email their notes to their clients as well, which not only provides assurance that they heard them correctly, but provides them with a record they can go back to. If they change their mind or say they wanted something different, you can at least have these notes available.

Set Your Own Ground Rules

Although you work for the client, the relationship must be professional at all times. The best way to establish boundaries is to set up basic ground rules up front. For example, you might want to establish a cut-off time for which the client can call you. How many meeting planners out there have been woken up by a frantic midnight call from a client about something that could have easily been handled in the morning? In most cases, the client will accept these rules – especially if you’re able to deliver.

Anticipate What They’re Going to Want Next

The best meeting planners will be able to read a difficult client, notice specific behavioral patterns, and anticipate what they’ll want next. For example, if your client is concerned about finding meeting locations, present them with a list of venues that coincide with what they said in previous discussions before they ask for it. By providing solutions before you’re even asked, you’ll be better able to win the client over.

Know When to Walk Away

The truth is that some clients simply won’t work out no matter what you do. It is easier to sever an agreement before a contract is signed and the wheels of the project start to go into motion. In your initial discussions with a potential client, assess if you believe you will be able to work together. In many cases, you will even if it will be difficult. However, in some cases, the best thing for both of you will be to suggest someone else to plan the meeting. 
During this global pandemic, the team at Unique Venues has been working to serve our industry planners and venues with free resources including roundtables, webinars, and workshops. You can visit our COVID-19 Resources page to learn about our upcoming programs this month and next that you may be interested in registering for. Be sure to follow Unique Venues on Facebook (@uniquevenues) and be on the lookout for Facebook Live sessions from Unique Venues CEO, Chuck Salem who will be providing tips and trends for weathering the storm.