Here are some ideas for buidling in the extra time you'll need when planning overseas events.

Every program is unique, but it's a pretty good rule of thumb that all events take more planning time when they are held outside the U.S. The timelines that appear below for large meetings and for incentive travel programs are meant only as helpful guidelines for structuring your own program schedule.

LARGE MEETINGS 18 Months Out

  • Set meeting and exhibit dates, location, theme, and format.
  • Conduct site visit.
  • Set preliminary budget.
  • Select freight company.
  • Negotiate hotel rates and blocks; sign hotel contracts.
  • Negotiate fares with official airline(s).
  • Select ground operator and/or DMC.
  • Select official car rental agency.
  • Assemble exhibitor prospect lists.
  • Set registration fees and policy.
  • Define promotional strategy.
  • Prepare first calendar notices and press releases.


16 Months Out

  • Arrange insurance coverage.
  • Develop logo and graphic theme.
  • Establish exhibit space rates.
  • Produce tentative exhibit floor plan.


14-15 Months Out

  • Invite and confirm key speakers.
  • Determine preliminary food and beverage requirements.
  • Negotiate menus and prices.
  • Select translation equipment or company.
  • Mail first exhibitor promotion.
  • Adjust exhibitor floor plan (ongoing).
  • Prepare and mail first meeting announcements and promotion to prospective attendees.


13 Months Out

  • Request AV from speakers.


6 to 7 Months Out

  • Produce and mail second promotion to prospective attendees.
  • Begin processing registration forms.


4 to 5 Months Out

  • Prepare and mail third promotion.
  • Adjust budget.
  • Confirm AV and translation needs.
  • Assign speaker locations and times.


Two to Three Months Out

  • Adjust budget.
  • Open host-city bank account.
  • Finalize session schedule.
  • Select and contract with AV supplier.
  • Produce and mail exhibitor service kits, including AV order form.
  • Finalize F&B schedule.
  • Finalize translation personnel and equipment.
  • Determine on-site staff needs.
  • Determine security needs.
  • Determine needs for office and communications equipment and order.
  • Determine signage needs and order.
  • Compile exhibitor directory.
  • Finalize on-site computer requirements for registration.
  • Review processing and billing activity with hotels.


1 Month to 6 Weeks Out

  • Print conference guide.
  • Print workbooks.
  • Give daily schedule to hotels.
  • Produce badges and ticket stocks.


3 weeks Out to Day of Meeting

  • Set up on-site office.
  • Pack and inventory materials.
  • Assemble registration packets.
  • Finalize F&B guarantees.
  • Begin pre-event preparation on site.
  • Set up on-site supervision of meeting.


Post-Meeting

  • Pack and inventory materials.
  • Finalize financial reconciliation.
  • Conduct post-budget performance review.


INCENTIVE TRAVEL PROGRAMS 9 to 12 Months Out

  • Establish program objectives.
  • Conduct destination search, including initial contacts with CVBs, national tourist offices, hotels, airlines, and DMCs.
  • Begin initial budget process.
  • Conduct site inspections.
  • Send out request for proposals; select destination.
  • Investigate currency strategies.
  • Review tax issues with attorneys and accountants.


6 to 9 Months Out

  • Begin promotional campaign.
  • Establish working budget.
  • Work out contracts and deposits with suppliers.


4 to 6 Months Out

  • Service qualifiers' questions (ongoing).
  • Refine program details — including menu selections, hotel, and air arrangements.
  • Order materials, room gifts, amenities, and qualifiers' kits.
  • Coordinate AV and other communication requirements.
  • Monitor currency strategy (ongoing).


45 Days Out

  • Finalize list of winners.
  • Finalize operations'details, including hotel arrangements, signage, name badges, and on-site staff requirements.
  • Send interactive purchase orders (i.e., written agreements with final details) to all suppliers.
  • Send travel documents and itineraries to qualifiers.
  • Advise qualifiers of passport/visa requirements.
  • Conduct final site visit if necessary.


4 Weeks to Program End

  • Finalize airline arrival and departure information.
  • Ship materials to destination.
  • Finalize arrangements with hotels, including room list, VIP list, banquet event orders, etc.
  • Conduct on-site administration of program.
  • Finalize accounting and auditing of invoices.
  • Post-meeting follow-up.


Incentive Program Promotion Schedule 9 Months to 1 Month Out

  • Mail weekly award credit notices.
  • Send standing mailers monthly.


9 Months Out

  • Send announcement mailing/teaser.


7, 5, and 3 Months Out

  • Send dimensional mailers: sunglasses, coffee mugs, memorabilia from the destination, etc.


5 Months Out

  • Send supplier brochures (can be ongoing).


45 Days Out

  • Send qualifier announcements and kits with travel documents and itinerary.