Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Work-Life Balance 2

Last month, I wrote about keeping a balance between work and life and have been doing more research (and there is a lot out there). Here is another article that I wanted to share.

Work-Life Balance Defined - What it really means!

Despite the worldwide quest for Work-Life Balance, very few have found an acceptable definition of the concept. Here's a proven definition that will positively impact your everyday value and balance starting today. (Average reading time 120 seconds).

Let's first define what work-life balance is not.

Work-Life Balance does not mean an equal balance. Trying to schedule an equal number of hours for each of your various work and personal activities is usually unrewarding and unrealistic. Life is and should be more fluid than that.

Your best individual work-life balance will vary over time, often on a daily basis. The right balance for you today will probably be different for you tomorrow. The right balance for you when you are single will be different when you marry, or if you have children; when you start a new career versus when you are nearing retirement.

There is no perfect, one-size fits all, balance you should be striving for. The best work-life balance is different for each of us because we all have different priorities and different lives.

However, at the core of an effective work-life balance definition are two key everyday concepts that are relevant to each of us. They are daily Achievement and Enjoyment, ideas almost deceptive in their simplicity.

Engraining a fuller meaning of these two concepts takes us most of the way to defining a positive Work-Life Balance. Achievement and Enjoyment answer the big question "Why?" Why do you want a better income…a new house…the kids through college…to do a good job today…to come to work at all?
Most of us already have a good grasp on the meaning of Achievement. But let's explore the concept of Enjoyment a little more. As part of a relevant Work-Life Balance definition, enjoyment does not just mean "Ha-Ha" happiness. It means Pride, Satisfaction, Happiness, Celebration, Love, A Sense of Well Being …all the Joys of Living.

Achievement and Enjoyment are the front and back of the coin of value in life. You can't have one without the other, no more than you can have a coin with only one side. Trying to live a one sided life is why so many "Successful" people are not happy, or not nearly as happy as they should be.

You cannot get the full value from life without BOTH Achievement and Enjoyment. Focusing on Achievement and Enjoyment every day in life helps you avoid the "As Soon As Trap", the life dulling habit of planning on getting around to the joys of life and accomplishment "as soon as…."

My caffeine source is diet cola. But I'm a somewhat fussy diet cola drinker. I don't like cans or bottles, I like fountain. And there is a big difference in fountain drinks. So I know all the best fountains within a five-mile radius of my house and office. My favorite is a little convenience store near my home called Fitzgerald's.

Let's say I'm wandering into Fitzgerald's at 6 in the morning, in my pre-caffeinated state and the implausible happens. Some philosophical guy bumps into me, and says…. "Heh mister… what's your purpose in life?" Well even in that half-awake condition, I'd have an answer for him. I'd say, "You know, I just want to achieve something today and I want to enjoy something today. And if I do both of those things today, I'm going to have a pretty good day. And if I do both of those things every day, for the rest of my life… I'm going to have a pretty good life."

And I think that's true for all of us. Life will deliver the value and balance we desire …when we are achieving and enjoying something every single day…in all the important areas that make up our lives. As a result, a good working definition of Work-Life Balance is:

Meaningful daily Achievement and Enjoyment in each of my four life quadrants: Work, Family, Friends and Self.
Ask yourself now, when was the last time you Achieved AND Enjoyed something at work? What about Achieved AND Enjoyed with your family; your friends? And how recently have you Achieved AND Enjoyed something just for you?

Why not take 20 minutes on the way home from work and do something just for yourself? And when you get home, before you walk in the door, think about whether you want to focus on achieving or enjoying at home tonight. Then act accordingly when you do walk in the door.

At work you can create your own best Work-Life Balance by making sure you not only Achieve, but also reflect the joy of the job, and the joy of life, every day. If nobody pats you on the back today, pat yourself on the back. And help others to do the same.

When you do, when you are a person that not only gets things done, but also enjoys the doing, it attracts people to you. They want you on their team and they want to be on your team.

Simple concepts. And once you focus on them as key components of your day, they are not that hard to implement. So, make it happen, for yourself, your family and all the important individuals you care about…every day for the rest of your life… Achieve and Enjoy.

Jim Bird, Publisher

On thing that I am finding over and over, is that there is not one easy solution to maintaining a healthy work and life balance. Everyone needs to find a way to make this happen for themselves. Opening yourself up to suggestions is only the beginning, but we all have to begin somewhere.

~ Cyndy Hutchinson • CFO, RDL enterprises

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Offering Gratuities to Hotel Staff After the Conclusion of the Event

It is great when you have enough money in your budget to offer additional gratuities after a conference to reward those who went above and beyond the call of duty in support of your event. So how does one go about doing that, short of walking around with an envelope full of cash...?

If you wish to present gratuities to staff at a hotel for exemplary service, I would recommend creating a list of those individuals that you want to recognize with cash payments (gratuities). From there, you can start plugging in dollar amounts. Alternately, you decide on a total that you are willing/can afford to pay and start giving it to various people until you run out. The more someone did for you and/or the group, the more they would receive. The whole process is a back and forth kind of affair as you adjust the list of names, the amounts they get, and the total you are disbursing until you reach a final list you are comfortable with.

Typically, the CSM gets the largest amount, followed by banquet captains or other "dedicated" staff at the hotel, depending on their role in supporting the event. I will sometimes include servers or other line staff if they really went "above and beyond" in their service - though, as often as not, a letter to the General Manager acknowledging their work and expressing thanks serves a more valuable role for them. Only in extreme instances do I include bellmen or anyone else who would have received a cash gratuity on the spot for their services. In any case, my list of folks who received gratuities after the fact is rarely more than six to ten people.

Though various service industries often try to set “recommended” gratuity rates, remember that gratuities here are a reward for service “above and beyond”, not just for good service – and there really is no one right amount to give if you are presenting gratuities. Do what feels right (and is within your budget).

When you have your list finalized, you send a check to the hotel for the total amount along with a list spelling out who gets how much of that total. The list and check typically go to the CSM, though sometimes they will go to someone else instead – confirm who should get them before sending.

~ Karl Baur, CMP • Project Director, RDL enterprises

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

An Update on What is Happening in the Hotel Industry and How it Affects Meeting Planners

An article in the Oct. 11, 2010, edition of Business Travel News (posted online October 15th) warns meeting planners to expect more difficult negotiations in 2011. According to the author, attrition clauses, demands for room cut-off dates, and deposits will become much less negotiable and planners should be prepared for this new trend. The article goes on to say that planners can still expect to negotiate freely for food and beverage credits, room upgrades, and waivers on resort fees and parking. This is helpful to know as we begin moving forward in sending out RFP’s and negotiating for sites for future meetings.

We have all been reading room rates are rising. One source for the article predicts that we could see anywhere from a 7 – 11 percent increase in room rates. Others have projected a 5 percent increase. I think we have all been expecting this increase and have just been waiting. This can be interpreted as an optimistic move on the part of the hotel industry. We also are encouraged to watch out for the hidden fees such as occupancy tax, resort fees, etc. Some properties have increased those fees in order to keep their rack rate low, yet still raise their bottom line.

The one thing not taken into account is the issue of Video Conferencing. Everyone pays lip service to this type of meeting as it a method of cutting travel and lodging costs. The question is how will this affect the bottom line in the hotel industry? Are they gearing up for meetings that include this component? If not, they need to be developing marketing strategies to the planners with ways for attendees to be video conferenced into a live event. We are constantly dealing with this issue with clients and expect to see an increase in this demand as the government begins implementing their new travel guidelines. An increase in room rates may not deter a client from using a convention property, but not having the facilities to conference others in or do a live feed out could eliminate a property from consideration.

We would love to hear your thoughts.

~ Linda Begbie • CEO & Executive Director, RDL enterprises

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Post Traumatic Conference Disorder (PTCD)

What is Post Traumatic Conference Disorder (PTCD)? It is a new name for the emotional withdrawals and attachment experienced after planning an event that took many long months to coordinate. In this case, I’m offering a light approach to my last experience planning a conference, with hopes others will relate.

As a meeting and conference planner I coordinate many diverse events. Some take a few weeks to coordinate, some a few months, no big deal. It’s the conferences that take almost a year to plan that give me PTCD. Wikipedia describes PTSD nicely, “symptoms that last more than one month and cause significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.” For PTCD, I would add to this definition: exhaustion, over stimulation, and increased levels of carbohydrate, caffeine, and alcohol consumption. Such events often include and were experienced or witnessed onsite during the four-day manifesto.

When all is said and done, the attachment disorder comes from all of the wonderful people I worked with. The attendees I finally met face to face. The travel and amenities, and feeling taken care of by the hotel staff and vendors. It was great to be the omniscient conference director. This reminds me of other events I have coordinated. On some level, there is always something I would have done differently. In this case, it would have been the self-preparation beforehand.

How PTCD is treated? Post treatments usually include rest, recuperation, and relaxation! Next time I will better prepare myself for such an event. Prevention of PTCD will include yoga, meditation, increased quite time, and relying on support from family and friends. In the end, we have to remember we can’t do it alone, nor would we want to – good grief!

~ Tess Conrad • Meeting and Conference Planner, RDL enterprises