Planning a Conference or Seminar
Common Planning Mistakes
Not every one of us was born to plan meetings, tirelessly poring over details and taming the imperative minutia that threatens uncontrollability.
However, we often find ourselves in this very spot sooner or later. Suddenly we find ourselves charged with planning an important conference, education seminar, or incentive meeting that could be a critical component to your organization’s success.
The following are a few tips to help you avoid the common 10 pitfalls of the planning phase.
1. Not comparing like to like when selecting a site
In the preliminary planning phase, many important decisions are made that lay the foundation for your meeting. Site selection is crucial as it is usually one of the single greatest budget allocations.
When negotiating room blocks, food & beverage, meeting room rates, and the pyramid of miscellaneous charges, make sure you are getting the full picture.
Your hotel sales manager is usually your best partner in planning your event however check all potential charges before congratulating yourself on the fabulous room rate you were able to negotiate.
2. Confusing your message
Having a clear objective for your meeting will result in a successful experience for you and all of your attendees.
You should design collateral material and plan activities that support your meeting objective and don’t deviate from this focus.
For example, if you are holding an intensive strategic planning meeting for a top-level executive group, consider hosting the meeting at a conference center where distractions are kept to a minimum.
3. Not sharing information with all parties involved
Not sharing your event’s objective and overall plan with all who are charged with providing products and services to your meeting is a crucial error in your preparations.
A strategic plan that is created specially for your meeting is a great tool to share with all who are partners in the success of your event and will save time in verbally explaining your event to each partner. Being secretive is not going to help you.
4. Not checking, double checking, and triple checking everything
This cannot be said enough. It is the best planning motto I can think of.
Often with large events the planning will take place over several months. Do not assume that the person who promised to facilitate your group’s trip to Spain will remember your conversation three months ago or even three weeks ago.
Their firm may be very reputable but you are not the only fish in their sea!
Always stay on top of things at all times and follow through.
5. Not reading the fine print, not reading everything!
If you do not read everything on contracts, orders, and instructions, then you as a meeting planner are exposing yourself to a tremendous amount of liability and financial risk.
Furthermore, as the meeting planner, you are expected to be the expert on all aspects of your event.
By knowing what is stated on all documents you can easily anticipate questions and issues that may arise while also maintaining your priority over potential liabilities.
6. Not thoroughly checking out speakers and entertainers
Have you ever attended a meeting where the keynote speaker’s message was brilliant but had nothing to do with the reason why you were there?
Speakers and entertainers can make or break your event and just because they were well received by one audience does not mean they are perfect for your event.
One of the best ways to find great speakers and entertainers is by networking with fellow meeting planners.
Once you have located a prospect, ask for references, and check those references, and ask a lot of questions. What is the reference’s relationship to the prospect? How many times has s/he heard this person speak or entertain? What was so great about their performance etc.?