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So You’re the Meeting Planner? Now What?

Nov 20, 2015 02:01PM ● By MED Magazine

Planning a meeting can be daunting.  These tips will save your sanity.

1.  Know your budget before planning.

Whether you have to report to a committee, a board, or just one boss, make them be clear about the amount of money they are willing to spend.   There is nothing worse than detailing for weeks or even months, with your catering manager, audio visual crew, and hotel contact just to have to go back to the drawing board due to budget concerns.  Keep in mind that your venue crew will spend hours detailing your meeting-especially if it is a larger conference, and although sometimes things just happen and reevaluating the agenda is unavoidable, going back to the drawing board wastes your time and your hotel crew’s time.  Another benefit to knowing your budget prior to planning is that your sales and catering managers will be able to help you make budget-friendly decisions. 

2.  Be the Only Contact for your venue personnel

Nothing is more counterproductive than having too many cooks in the kitchen.  One meeting planner will accomplish more than five; especially if they are not in the same office and relying on email to communicate.  Have a million meetings with people who matter, but keep them from contacting your hotel personnel.  It only leads to confusion.

3.  Too Many Agenda Items=Weaker Attendance

It is important to have a clear and detailed agenda, but too many items will exhaust your conference goers.  So many meeting planners want to plan activities in between sessions or after the work day, and although their intentions are great, the reality is that people are tired.  They’re away from home and likely have work to catch up on.  Unless it’s a cocktail hour or dinner, keep the non-conference related activities to a minimum.  At the end of the day, people want to relax and have some free time to answer emails, exercise, and simply unwind.  Plus, it’s less work for you, the meeting planner!

4.  Keep Things Unique & Interesting

If you are planning a meeting or conference that is a yearly event, remember to keep things fresh.  Simply having different speakers or chicken instead of beef for dinner isn’t enough.  Add a different theme each year, or a different focus.  Perhaps one year you provide your attendees with a goody bag filled with items that represent the city you are in (CVB’s love providing these things), or provide them with some entertainment which is unique to where you are.  This can be easy if your event jumps around a region or the country, but if your event is at the same venue, it can get tricky.  Don’t forget-your hotel/venue personnel are a huge resource for ideas.  Ask their opinion.  They want you to have a successful meeting too as it is a reflection of their work. 

5.  Celebrate

Yes, celebrate.  Don’t forget-your attendees are away from their offices, their families, and their routine.  Create an agenda item each day that celebrates them-whether it’s a spotlight on their business or industry, an awards ceremony, a cocktail mixer, or even a widely embellished “thank you” can go a long way.  Treat them.  Make them want to come back next year and make them glad they took like out of their life to attend.  Cheers!


Carmella Biesiot is Director of Hotel Sales and Marketing for The Lodge at Deadwood.


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