Last week, Rita Moore joined ConferenceDirect as director of conference management operations, overseeing the conference management team, including training, recruiting, and processes. Most recently, she worked on the hotel side of the industry as interim director of meetings and events at the Westin San Diego Gaslamp Quarter Hotel and, before that, as director of sales and marketing at the La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla, Calif. We caught up with her on one of her first days on the job:
MeetingsNet: You come from the hotel industry. What do you wish meeting professionals understood better about hotel operations that would make their conference coordination easier?
Rita Moore: The hotel conference manager is a business person and is held to strict forecasting and budget guidelines. An accomplished conference manager is always transparent on any potential risk to your budget—shortfall in rooms, food minimums, etc.—and truly does not want you to fall short of your contract. The worst-case scenario is when a planner feels that being held to the contract terms means the manager doesn’t want to be a partner. because he or she needs to hold them to the contract terms. This is one of the most stressful times for a conference manager, and many think of alternate ways to mitigate your potential attrition or shortfall by suggesting room upgrades, menu enhancements, etc. A large hotel, just like your personal bank account, depends upon a certain income each month, and when a group falls short, they can’t ignore that loss of revenue. Truly, it isn’t a lack of partnership, it is a fiduciary responsibility.
MeetingsNet: What are the special challenges to recruiting and retaining talent in the meetings and conventions industry?
Rita Moore: Attracting talent is key, and companies first must showcase a commitment to the employee experience. Associates want to know the investment the company is going to make in training, resources, and tools so that they can reach a greater level of success. Secondly, companies need to outline the accountability aspect of the role. Will the associate meet bi-monthly or monthly, or perhaps weekly, with their team to understand progress as well as mentorship opportunities? Focused time with leaders and mentors offers the opportunity to develop and succeed, but also further builds a loyal relationship based on mutual communication rather than historic seesaw methods of micro-management or only meeting when problems spur an interaction. Leadership is key.
MeetingsNet: What might someone be surprised to learn about you?
Rita Moore: I always like to learn the history of the companies that I work with. How was it started and by whom, in a garage, with two friends? It humanizes even the most serious of corporate of entities, and allows me to engage in a more personal, committed way. Let’s face it, we work 10-12 hours a day sometimes, and it’s the smile, the people, the imagination that make the difference in the work day.