What Meeting Planners Can Learn from Zappos

Zappos Meeting Planning

Wow, this was a post worth dusting off for meeting planners, this post is from July of 08…..I went and had a look and Zappos is still at it. Check out this article from Business Week from December 30th of 2009…. Reading this article made me think, I can do more on a daily basis to make my clients and event attendees happy. I think that I will.

Zappos is an unusual company (in this day and age), they put customers and employees first, really first, not just lip service. After I read Stephen’s post, I did a little research on Zappos because I was really intrigued. 

Here is what I found, information that could, and should, change the way that we all think, do business and execute events.

Zappos sells shoes online. They started in 1999 with almost no sales and built a company that is now number one with over 800 million in annual revenues.

OK, so a lot of folks sell shoes online and a lot of companies have hit the 800 million mark. Here is why they are different and why we should take notice.

Zappos has gotten here by treating customers like gold. They offer free shipping both ways (even sending some shipments overnight to surprise customers), they have a 365-day return policy and offer 24/7 customer service…….oh and there’s

All new employees are required to undergo a 4-week Customer Loyalty Training course, and not the simple read a book and listen to a boring speaker training. This is at least 2 weeks of talking on the phone with customers in the call center and then cycling through all of the other departments for good measure. Interesting, but here is the cool part.

After making it through training, new hires are offered $1000 to quit. Yes, $1000 to quit. Stand up, walk out the door and never return. Why? Are they crazy? Anything but.

Zappos does this because they want the employees that love the company and love the job.  (In case you are wondering, 90% turn down the “buyout”).

Here are their core values:

1.    Deliver WOW Through Service
2.    Embrace and Drive Change
3.    Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
4.    Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
5.    Pursue Growth and Learning
6.    Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
7.    Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
8.    Do More With Less
9.    Be Passionate and Determined
10.  Be Humble

Sounds simple doesn’t it. Well, quite frankly, it is.

The biggest reason that Zappos succeeds is that they live it, they love it and they embrace it.

Think about this after you log off. Most companies, and events for that matter, fail because we forget the simple things. You spend 100k on an online registration system, but forget to train the people that answer the phone. You get the flights that all arrive at the same time, but hire a crappy transportation company. We simply overlook the simple things.

Now, what would happen, if we as event professionals, embraced the Zappos way and lived it every day.

I would bet that your attendees would be happier, your boss would be happier, your attendance would go up and overall event satisfaction levels would go so high as to be almost untouchable by any economic downturn.

These are the things that are so easy to implement that we should all do it tomorrow.

Don’t wait.

They even have cool commercials…………

Keith Johnston

Keith Johnston

Keith is the Managing Partner of i3 Events but is most widely known as the outspoken publisher of the event industry blog PlannerWire. In addition to co-hosting the Bullet List and Event Tech Pull Up Podcasts, he has been featured in Plan Your Meetings, Associations Now, Convene, Event Solutions, and has appeared on the cover of Midwest Meetings Magazine.

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