Sarah M. Buchbinder, 36, works in Middletown, New Jersey, as a meeting broker at Meetings Made Easy, LLC. As a 2019 40 Under 40 honoree, Buchbinder discusses her passion for the events industry.
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What I do:
When planners need to find the perfect home for their meeting or event, they reach out to me and I do all the background work for them so they can focus on everything else on their plate. I learn about their events wishes and needs, and reach out to hotels, venues, CVB and DMC Partners and get them back options within 24 to 48 hours. I compile all the information into easy-to-digest nuggets so they can make a quick but informed decision. Then I go back and negotiate on their behalf—tenaciously.
How I got here:
Right out of college, I worked full time for a meeting and event planning company, growing it from just two people to more than 14 full time employees and 150 contractors. After 7.5 years, I decided I wanted to get away from the all the logistic planning, so I didn’t just leave the company—I left the continent. I moved to a fishing village in Ecuador where I taught English, planned placements for volunteers, worked in hotels and started a scuba diving company. Then an offer came in to plan meetings in South America which was just too perfect, so I was right back in the business. I contracted, planned, sourced and worked onsite for clients all over the world for another seven years until I met the owner of Meetings Made Easy, and was blown away by the mission of the company.
Greatest career accomplishment:
I had a planner reach out who had been hesitant about working with a “third party” but was struggling to find a home for their 200-plus person event less than six months out. I found them three venues that fit their program perfectly, set up site visits for them and their stakeholder with a two-day turnaround, and was able to negotiate concessions worth more than $84,000. I also got clauses included in their contract that the hotel normally wouldn’t agree to but we fought for to make sure they were protected.
Specific improvement I’ve made:
I lead the development team for Meetings Made Easy’s event services department, adding full planning services, registration/housing support and onsite staff to what we can offer our clients on top of sourcing. I was specifically hired for my experience in every facet of logistic planning, so I was thrilled to be a key part of this expansion project.
What I am working on now:
I’m lucky in that I’ve got an international and very diverse scope, and I represent clients all along the spectrum of industries, working on programs ranging from wilderness retreats to international executive board meetings, to company launches and tradeshows.
What I do outside of work:
My true loves are cheese, Samba and salsa dancing, and, of course, travel! I’ve ticked off six continents so far… who’s up for a trip to Antarctica for lucky No. 7?