Meeting Planning Guide

Corporate meetings are frequently planned by people who do not have much experience planning travel for groups. With a little advice and some tips you will find that planning travel for your group is a breeze. The key is to be organized, keep detailed notes, and delegate if you can.

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Meeting Timelines

Once you have decided on the date and time for your meeting/event, it is time to start the planning for the event. It is important to start your planning for your group travel at least 18 months in advance. The following is an outlined timeline of what should be done during each timeframe of the planning process.

Corporate Group Travel Planning Should Start 18 Months Before Meeting Date
You should be starting the planning process for your meeting around 18 months prior to the event. Make a list of all of items you will be needing such as group hotel rates, airlines, caterers and other necessities. At this time you should be planning your budget as well. Include things such as; room rates for hotels, rental cars or transportation and promotional tools. This is the time when you will also select the final date, time, format, location and theme of the event. If the event is larger than 30 people, we would suggest getting help from co-workers. For every 25 people that you are arranging group travel for, you should have an extra set of hands.

16 Months Prior To Meeting
By now, you should have a good idea of what this meeting will cost your corporation. You should have group hotels lined up and ready to contract for your event. You should also consider arranging insurance coverage, establish a logo (if appropriate), graphics and advertisement.

13-14 Months
During the fourteenth month before the event you should start inviting speakers and lecturers to the meeting as well as determine the basic food and beverage requirements for your group travel attendees. If you need to hire translators or mail out exhibitor promotions you should do this during this time. Draw out the floor plan for seating, exhibits and entertainment as well as where the food and beverages will go if you are serving a buffet style meal. Prepare the first meeting announcements and advertising materials. You will also need to get the AV equipment that is required for the event.

6 Months
Six months prior to your meeting you should print and send the second batch of promotional materials to the attendees as well as begin the process for registration. This is a time when you should check your budget to make sure that everything is on track as well.

4 Months
With only a few months until the meeting is to take place you should be preparing the third mailing for promotions to prospective attendees, adjusting the budget for any last minute additions and confirming speakers, translators and entertainment. You will also need to assign speakers to specific rooms or locations and the time when each will speak.

2 Months
At two months out from the meeting date you will need to do a great deal of things to begin finalizing the event. You should do a final budget adjustment, finalize the schedule for the meeting and print a copy for your attendees, mail exhibitor information as well as AV order forms, determine the needs of on-site staff, security and any signage that must be posted. Ordering office supplies such as pens, pencils, note pads and any other items must be ordered at this time. Contact the group hotel and review the billing activities for the event.

1 Month
When there are only 4 weeks to go until the date of the meeting you should be wrapping up and begin printing conference guides, workbooks and any other materials needed at the meeting. Submit your daily schedule to the hotel and print name tags and tickets for the event.

3 Weeks through Final Event Day
Set up an on-site office, pack supplies and materials, compile registration packets and finalize the F&B requirements when you are in the final three weeks of planning. These are the weeks when you should have all of the major planning finished and be coming to an end of the process. Once you have arrived at the meeting location you should make any pre-meeting preparations on-site such as decorating the venue. During the day of the meeting you will need to supervise the days events so don’t leave things to do last minute.

Post meeting you should pack all of the supplies, wrap up any unfinished business with the hotel and meeting center and hand out any event evaluation sheets. Once you are back at your home office, reconcile the finances and perform a post-budget review.

There is plenty to do when holding a large meeting event. You should start your planning at least 18 months in advance and continue your process through the day that the event will take place.

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