Five Basic Tips to Jump-Start Your Planning
Over the last year, more and more of my friends, who do not have “meeting planner” in their title, have been asked to handle their companies’ meetings. I often get a call from them seeking my advice, “tricks of the trade,” and so on. With many companies tasking executive assistants and marketing personnel with meeting responsibilities, it seems a great time to share some simple tips with the novice planner. Even if you’re a seasoned planner, you probably still appreciate a review of the basics. Here are a few questions to ask yourself and others:
- Why – Why is your company having this meeting? What is the objective of hosting the meeting? Companies don’t have meetings for no reason; they want to gain something from them. Is it a product launch, training session, investor gathering, and/or an incentive program?
- What – Budget will usually dictate what type of meeting you are planning. From high-end splash to strictly educational with no frills.
- When – Knowing the date is important for several reasons. Is the date firm, or does it just need to be during a certain month? The date will help with your venue search; if your dates are flexible, you could use it to leverage a better deal with venues. The time of year could help in determining the “where.”
- Where – Where is this meeting taking place, in your corporation’s home city, or is it a destination meeting? If you have been asked to find a destination, go back to tip #1 (the why) as this will help narrow your search. I recommend selecting only three cities to keep from getting overwhelmed. Example: is this a high-end incentive trip in February? Then you should look into warm winter cities where golf resorts with spas would be welcomed warmly by both genders.
- Who – I tend to break the “who” portion into three separate parts:
A) Who is attending the meeting? Are sales reps attending from across the nation, the globe or just a territory? Will C-level executives be present? Where the “who” are traveling from could be something to keep in mind when picking a destination.
B) Who are your vendor partners? Choosing trusted vendors is one of the most important decisions you can make, as I have found they can really make or break your event. Choose carefully, read recommendations, ask for referrals, and be comfortable with whom you are partnering with on your event. *Helpful hint* CVBs are great partners to work with, as they provide free, objective, resources to their cities. CVBs also help cut down the time you spend researching hotels, venues, and activities, as they will send your RFP to all their partners that fit specifically with your group.
C) Who planned this event the year before? If your company has hosted this same meeting, or a similar type of meeting, find out who was involved. If you can speak to the planner, ask them what worked well, and what they would have done differently. If the planner is unavailable, find an attendee from the previous event to gain some insight.
With these things in mind, your initial research will almost certainly go more smoothly. What works for you? We’d love to hear how you approach meetings. In the meantime, happy planning!