Meeting Planner 2013

Tips For A Successful Company Conference

Meeting Guide For Hampton Roads

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It’s not uncommon these days to hear how people are taking on a number of different tasks at work and wearing a variety of hats to help their company operate more leanly and succeed in the marketplace. So what do you do if you get tapped to organize the company’s next offsite meeting? In speaking with professionals on both the sales side of the equation and the planner side, the answers are surprisingly similar.

Of course, there are a lot of variables that come into play—if your meeting will require overnight accommodations, what you’ll need in the form of catering (food and beverage service), if you’ll need audio/visual equipment, etc. Following is a list of things you need to know upfront before getting down to the nitty gritty details:

What is the intent of the meeting? Is this a heavy working session where attendees need to be distraction-free or is it a light-hearted celebration?

Know your audience/know your boss. Knowing things that could turn a meeting sour from the start are helpful to know. “If a large number of your attendees are vegetarians, you’ll definitely want to factor that into the catering menu,” says Allen.

“Knowing details like that can make a big difference in the success of a meeting.” Parking. Is parking onsite and is it free? The cost of parking will come out of your overall budget.

Audio/visual needs. What is the cost to use the venue’s projector, screen, podium, microphone, etc.? Are you allowed to use your own A/V equipment?

Location. Do you need to be near the beach and shopping, or is this just a one-day event? “We’re on the North End, not on the boardwalk,” says Waddell. “If a group wants some seclusion with the ability to connect with the boardwalk, we’re the best choice. If a group wants to walk out of their hotel room and be within a minute’s walk of bars, shops and restaurants, then we’re not the best choice.”

Is WiFi available to meeting attendees? This could be especially important if meeting attendees will need to follow along on their laptops or iPads.

Keep cultural events and holidays in mind when picking your date. You may not want to hold a meeting during a very busy festival that could potentially close off streets and make it otherwise difficult for attendees to get to and from your event.

It doesn’t hurt to ask. “Planning a meeting at a venue is a lot like buying a car—there is always room for negotiation,” says Dearborn. “If you don’t ask, the answer is always going to be ‘No’.”