Tips For Planning a Business Meeting or Event
One of the best tips for planning an important business meeting or event, especially a large one, is to consult with a professional meeting planner.

These professionals bring meeting planning expertise to the planning process and can often save a company money by knowing all the ins and outs of negotiating with a meeting facility manager, a caterer and other service providers. Also, professional planners are adept at working within the parameters of your budget while meeting your goals for the event.

Professional meeting and event planners provide valuable input by asking questions that are not always obvious to inexperienced planners. Also, if you have experience planning functions, but you are out of ideas, then a professional can fill that void and can manage functions from conception through completion. You can hire a professional to organize your entire event or to oversee one aspect of the meeting.

The professional meeting planner can help you select a theme, choose a location, choose a caterer, brainstorm ideas on décor and help with budgeting, transportation, entertainment and invitations.

During initial contact with a meeting planner, try to have an idea of the event date, the type of event, the number of attendees, your budget, the need for audiovisual equipment and if the event is in conjunction with a larger conference. Also, the demographics of those invited help determine how formal the event should be, if interpreters are needed, and the type of food, entertainment and other services that will be appropriate.

Carry a chosen theme throughout:
Select an overall theme for the program that can be carried out and conveyed through marketing, speaker selection, team building, special events and more. This theme provides the bond that holds the program together, creating a lasting and memorable experience for the attendees.

Plan for your audience/goal:
Throughout the entire planning process, never lose sight of the original goal of the program. Is it to educate? Network? Launch a new product? Entertain? Everything you do should revolve around your desired goal and contribute to its success. Keep in mind your demographics and what has worked well or not so well in past events or for your competitors.

Market to your attendees:
Be creative so people are curious and interested in attending. Come up with great ideas by staying current with event industry trends to keep your programs (especially annual ones) innovative and appealing. Always develop a hook that makes them feel your program cannot be missed and that keeps them talking long after the event has come and gone. Don’t forget to survey attendees for their feedback on the program to be sure what you provided met their needs/expectations, and use this information when planning future functions.

Choose good partners:
In this industry, the saying “you are only as good as the people you surround yourself with” couldn’t be more true. If you conduct your initial research over the Internet, be sure to follow up with reference checks and ask other vendors to be sure the companies you are choosing have a good reputation in service and quality. Don’t always believe that the lowest price is the best option; there is usually a reason why.

Conduct pre-and post-event meetings:
These meetings are vital to the success of your current and future programs. Conduct them both with internal staff and with your program partners. The pre-event is your opportunity to run through the final details of the upcoming days and make any last-minute adjustments. When the event is over, you may just want to put it behind you and move on to the next, but don’t forget the post-event. It is equally important to review your successes and struggles as a team and with your partners. You are only as good as your last event!

Don’t forget about potential sponsorships:
Most people think sponsorships go hand in hand with not-for-profit or association organizations. This is not so in today’s meeting climate. A sponsorship means more money for your organization to reach its goals and provides potential sponsors with a direct link to reach your employees or event attendees. There are many ways to incorporate sponsorship opportunities into your program. Creative sponsorship ideas include transportation, bar service, entertainment, giveaways, team building, staff for the program or a special night out for all attendees.