Conference and event planning
Planning business meetings and events requires multitasking skills and ingenuity. To succeed, you need to know the basics of meeting or event planning and how to plan effectively. Then, you must hone your skills so that you can negotiate for the best venues, vendors, and speakers for your attendees. And, if you can do all this and keep costs down — and you can! — you’ll be a hit with your boss and your clients.
Organization and preparation are key when planning a business meeting or event. You have to cover all the basics from reviewing the content of the meeting to accommodating the attendees.
Make sure meeting objectives are clear and concise. Determine whether it’s necessary to meet at all, or whether you can accomplish your objectives in another way. Choose the right meeting location — one with the right number, size, and shape of meeting rooms. Make sure that you know and understand all the services provided by the facility, as well as its cancellation policies. Invite only the people who need to attend. Gather exact contact information for everyone involved in the event. Stick to the set meeting agenda. Evaluate the meeting or event after it’s over.
Choosing the right site for a business event is critical — it’s the framework for your whole effort. When seeking a venue for a meeting or event, you have several options. Depending on the number of people attending and the type of event, you can go the traditional conference center route or try a road — or a cruise ship — less traveled.
Your success as a business meeting or event planner depends upon your ability to hire the right people to help you shine. No one can pull off even a small gathering without a host of helpers.
Keep an eye out for good vendors when you attend parties and business events. Ask trusted friends and industry colleagues for recommendations. Ask contacts at your meeting location for a list of approved vendors. Contact a professional association affiliated with the industry in which you need to find a vendor.
Search the Internet, and keep in mind that you need to check references for the companies you find. Scan trade/industry publications for potential resources. Quiz the local Convention and Visitors Bureau in your destination city. Consider using a Destination Management Company, which could save you time, money, and aggravation by assisting with part or all of your planning.
A key element in any conference from the largest down to a few like-minded individuals meeting over a business lunch is the catering. A carefully organised function, with first rate speakers can be spoiled by poor food.
Caterers can make or break a business meeting, conference, exhibition, wedding reception, or any other special event. They take responsibility for the food and beverages, as well as overseeing the staffing of servers, chefs, and others. Many caterers also handle event decoration, audiovisual equipment setup, and other key elements.
An event planner meets with the banquet or catering manager well ahead of an event to discuss the basics. A business meeting that will carry over into the afternoon may require box lunches, while a black-tie charity gala calls for a plated menu.
The planner and caterer then decide what they’ll serve. An event planner needs to take into account the expectations of guests as well as the budget and should talk openly with the caterer about budget limitations. A good caterer can help create an event that looks elegant but isn’t necessarily costly, with choices like using local seasonal produce.
Many prudent companies will choose to avail themselves of the discounts many hotels offer for guests attending an in-hotel event, and wave everyone safely off in the morning after a substantial hotel breakfast.
To get the best value from your event set your goals carefully, make a checklist and before you sign on the dotted line run over the list with the events team.