News For Planners

A guide to help plan your next business meeting or conference

Thursday, 8/18/2011  4:35:52 PM

Those who have had the responsibility of planning their companies big meetings know that a lot goes on behind the scenes to make the meeting a success. Not only do you have to account for participants and try to accommodate everyone, but you have to ensure that the meeting room is booked and that everything goes off without a hitch.

If you need a little help organizing your company's next face-to-face meeting with clients, here's a simple checklist to get you started:

1. Profile participants. Take a good look at your primary participants (clients, executives, administrators) and secondary participants (vendors, sponsors, collaborators). Try to anticipate their needs and expectations. Consider aspects such as where they're from, what they do and whether or not there are any special needs that should be accommodated.

2. Make an itinerary. Determine the length of the meeting or meetings and which days they'll take place. Double check to ensure there won't be any conflicts with participants. You may also want to consider travel arrangements and whether anyone will need assistance in getting to the location.

3. Draft a budget. Budgeting is one of the most important parts of good meeting planning. Airfares and accommodations have been slightly higher as companies are trying to make up for lost revenues from the travel decline brought on by the recession. You'll need to account for all of your resources, and make sure that every dollar spent is a wise investment. While you'll obviously need to plan for travel, hotel and meeting room expenses, don't forget to account for smaller items like catering services and materials. Consider using budget tracking software so that you can ensure you're on the right track.

4. Pick a venue. Hotels offer ideal facilities for business meetings, and some even include catering and hospitality in their list of services. Consider things like room size, accessability, and whether or not it has the necessary power hook-ups. Do a little price comparison so you get the best deal. Restaurants can also be a great place for informal meetings.

5. Lodging and transportation. You'll need to find a place for your associates to stay while they're traveling, as well as a way for them to get around. If the city you plan to visit has a subway system, you may be able to save on car rental expenses.

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