Editor’s Note: As we celebrate the 2023 Meeting Professionals of the Year, we thought it fitting to go back to a 2020 Meeting Professionals of the Year winner, John Cruz, senior corporate meeting planner with BlueCross of North Carolina, for some perspective.

man smiling, wearing white dress shirt and black sport coatI have been planning and producing events for over 30 years and as I start the back nine of my journey, I have been asked lately when do I think I will retire. The good news is that I have my stock answer ready to go and it is a sincere one. I say that as long as I can stay healthy, I will keep on doing what I’m doing as long as I can.

I’m one of those blessed folks who truly loves what they do and I’m so grateful to have a career doing what I truly have such a passion doing. My wish is that what I am going to share with you will offer you some hope and guidance as you start or enhance your own journey in the world of meetings and events.

Read More: Meet the 2023 Meeting Professionals of the Year

Experience Everything

If I could offer my insight or advice to you as a new person to the meetings industry, I would focus on one word that will help you on your journey no matter what path it takes you…that word would be “experience.”  I would say try and gain as much experience in as many areas as you can. Always strive to create a wonderful experience for your attendees and last but not least…maintain work-life balance by routinely taking the time to experience all the wonderful places and memories we get to go to and create.

I have found my journey to be so much easier and rewarding because I can say, “been there done that.” Working as a restaurant manager for Marriott and as a communication manager for GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals (GSK) and as head of audio-visual and an event management consultant afforded me the experience to take on any and all the challenges that have been thrown my way and doing so with confidence by executing effective decision making by pulling from my diverse history. I’m grateful for having my CMM and it has been beneficial career-wise so I would definitely say that industry certifications are worth it.

Deliver the Basics and the Extras

When producing a meeting, focus on delivering the basics…that is essential. Then, provide the extras that show you care. It elevates the service you are offering. Last but not least, create an experience that will make your event a memory that will stick with the attendees forever.

Today, more than ever, it is so easy to capture the journey in a photograph and we see everyone doing it. The big challenge I offer you is to actually take the next step and do something with the photo like printing and framing it or periodically sending one or two photos to your meeting sponsor or colleagues to keep the experience and memory alive!

Read More: You are an Experience Curator

Enjoy the Journey

Finally, the last suggestion is truly easier done than said…yes, I meant to say it that way. Experience your journey in the moment. Make it a priority to experience the resort even if only for a few hours. Make it a priority to experience a great meal at the venue or in the town you are having the meeting. Put on the robe…that is more a symbolic request meaning to relax and enjoy your guest room at that property you may not be able to experience on your own dime.

This may require you to take the first flight in the morning to get to the hotel early or taking a later flight after the conclusion of the meeting…believe me, it’s worth it. So much talk today is about the importance of mental wellness. A great way to keep yours is experiencing the experience. You have earned it!

Read More: How Physical Wellness, Mindfulness and Emotional Safety Boost Productivity

These three quick tips will really go a long way toward sustaining a long and healthy experience as a meeting professional. My wish for you is to not just to survive, but to also thrive. I do so by putting my journey on “Cruz Control” and by doing so I see more, I do more and I truly “experience” the passing of time.