This timeline was developed for a strategic planning meeting of about 100 people. Six months' lead time in today's on-demand meeting market is often a luxury; the timeline can be compressed into three months.
6 months out
- Establish meeting objective(s), subjects to be covered, and theme, if any.
- Determine who is to attend, including local guests and other VIPs, if necessary.
- Create checklist for all meeting segments; assign responsibility and completion dates.
- Select several possible meeting dates and sites, keeping in mind local holidays.
- Contact convention and visitors bureaus, tourist offices, hotel/conference centers, and representative sales offices (on-site, regional, or national), and visit Web sites.
- For international meetings, consider local holidays and events. Contact the local U.S. embassy or consulate and make arrangements for banking needs, select a receiving agent for shipments needing customs clearance, and determine and for other third-party vendors.
- Check references from other meeting planners of recent and comparable meetings.
- Select facility/destination.
4 to 6 months out
- Inform potential attendees of date and place of meeting.
- Issue media release, if desired.
- Refine program and agenda.
- Select speakers and topics, and determine speaker audiovisual requirements.
- Negotiate and sign facility , including food and beverage agreements, meeting room use, other necessary clauses ( , indemnification, arbitration, etc.), and display or use of competitive goods and services, if appropriate.
- Contract with airlines, ground transportation, and a destination management company, as necessary.
- Order and confirm delivery date of giveaways.
- Determine and set up the arrangements for shipping materials.
- Select photographer, entertainment, and security vendor.
- Arrange for on-site office and communications needs, including Internet provider.
3 months out
- Obtain rights and permission for any material you intend to reproduce.
- Plan and arrange airport arrival needs for meet-and-greet, particularly if security clearance and passes are needed.
2 months out
- Determine meeting room setups.
- Order signage.
4 to 6 weeks out
- Reproduce materials for distribution.
- Reconfirm arrangements with all suppliers.
- Send attendees information on meeting participation requirements, and hotel/conference center facilities.
2 weeks out
- Ship materials in numbered containers (via air express) to meeting site and confirm acceptance and location of materials.
- Prepare name badges for all attendees.
3 days out through post-meeting
- Conduct a briefing meeting for your own staff about on-site administration and responsibilities. Review last-minute changes to conference résumé, including guarantees.
- Check inventory of materials and supplies shipped in advance, including handouts.
- Meet with facility accounting department to confirm procedures for daily review of charges to master account, and prepare final accounting and auditing report of all charges.
- Confirm information to be posted on reader boards.
- Meet with telephone operators and provide list of attendees, highlighting VIPs.
- Meet with the facility security to review procedures (also meet with local security, if necessary).
- Review rooming list with front desk and confirm all preregistered attendees and procedure for check-in. Inspect rooms assigned to VIPs and to attendees requiring rooms meeting Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
- Check weather reports for arrival delays and review alternate plans. Coordinate airport meet-and-greet plans.
- Coordinate specific times for guest room delivery of any meeting materials and/or gifts for VIPs.
- Set up private office space and separate registration area.
- Run separate post-meeting follow-ups with your own staff and the facility, and issue specific gratuities where deserved.
- Send thank-you letter to facility.