Meeting Planner Survival Guide – a suggested timeline for your convenience:

Planning your next meeting or conference can be a daunting task, as many details and logistics are involved in producing a successful event. Here is a brief guideline to help you plan your next event:

Six to Eight Months In Advance

  • Establish meeting theme and objectives

  • Establish meeting budget

  • Determine audience participants: the size of the group, facilitators, dignitaries, etc.

  • Select meeting date

  • Contact venue sites: convention centers, conference facilities, hotels, convention, and visitor bureaus

  • Check references of other meeting planners that have booked the facility

  • Select meeting locale and meeting site

  • Decide on topics and speakers/trainers that will address the topics and objectives of the meeting

  • Contact us to check on availability and speaker’s fee

  • Are you having a celebrity concert? Now is the time to contact us to book your headliner entertainment.

  • International considerations: Climate at time of the meeting, cultural considerations, third-party vendor contact information, banking arrangements, receiving agents for shipments needing to be secured through customs, interpreter arrangements

Four to Six Months In Advance

  • Decide on the length and the agenda of the meeting

  • Inform attendees of the date, place, and objectives of the meeting

  • Finalize facility arrangements

  • Decide on food and beverage arrangements

  • Finalize the specific meeting rooms and layouts required

  • >Have all decisions finalized in the contractual form, including appropriate clauses for display or use of competitive goods and services, issues of attrition, indemnification, arbitration, and other issues where appropriate

  • Make all necessary hotel reservations for attendees attending out-of-town

  • Contract with proper transportation services

  • Decide on the use of giveaways. Order and confirm delivery date if applicable

  • Arrange for any on-site communication needs such as internet provider, telephone accessibility, office services, pagers, cell phone accommodations, etc.

  • Make all arrangements for shipping materials and confirm

Three Months In Advance

  • Determine what materials need to be reproduced.

  • Determine what materials need to be included in the registration packet

  • Arrange airport arrival requirements for meet and greet arrivals, ground transportation arrangements, designated luggage tags for group participants, etc.

  • Determine meeting room setups and notify the site of additional requirements

  • Order necessary signs, conference banners, and room signage

Four to Six Weeks In Advance

  • Reconfirm with all external vendors

  • Copy all materials that will need to be distributed

  • Send attendees information regarding meeting attire, agenda, hotel, and travel arrangements. Include pre-printed luggage tags and participation requirements, pertinent telephone numbers, and contact information.

Two Weeks In Advance

  • Prepare registration packet and name tags.

  • Ship all required materials in numbered boxes to the meeting site: request acceptance receipts and confirmation of arrival notification.

  • Confirm the number of attendees with the hotel and caterer.

One Week In Advance

  • Check weather reports for possible delays and determine a backup plan for weather-altering scenarios.

  • Coordinate delivery of special guestroom deliveries such as VIP gifts or employee incentive gifts.

  • Meet with the necessary security and parking officials to coordinate meeting logistics

  • Confirm rooming list with registration desk and procedure for check-in. Double-check rooms for VIPs and those with special needs.

  • Discuss with the front desk appropriate information to be included on on-site marquee boards

  • Meet with the accounting department of the site facility and confirm master billing procedures.

  • Check inventory of materials and supplies pre-shipped. Compile registration packets that will be distributed. Set up a separate registration area if necessary.

  • Conduct a meeting with personnel about on-site administration and delegate responsibilities where appropriate.

Post Meeting Follow Up

  • Send thank-you notes to the facility and to personnel that went above and beyond to ensure the success of the meeting.

  • Send thank-you notes to VIP’s for their attendance where appropriate.

  • Document meeting notes, prices, vendors, and suggestions for future meetings.