What's the Point?
The pre-con meeting, typically held on-site a day or two before an event, is your opportunity to review the meeting's details and timeline with all the stakeholders. A careful review of your program will get the big picture in focus, identify possible problem areas, and teach you about the experience levels and communication styles of the players involved.
The Invitation List
The property's convention services manager will usually lead the pre-con, joined by the hotel's department heads; other facility staff (depending on your program, they could include a golf pro, audiovisual staff, the accountant assigned to your program, security personnel, or others); planners and other representatives from the host organization; and contractors.
Down From on High
When you set up your pre-con, ask if your sales contact and the hotel general manager will be there. They won't stay for the whole meeting, but it's a nice time to touch base — better than having them drop by in the middle of an AV check or just as your general session is starting.
After introductions and an overview of your meeting objectives, a pre-con typically reviews the program highlights, the résumé, and department head responsibilities. The pre-con should include a discussion of emergency protocols, security, room deliveries, contingency plans in case of bad weather or other issues, and any other topic that is critical to your success. At the pre-con, schedule a daily bill review with the accountant assigned to your group. A detailed discussion of each function can wait until after the pre-con, bringing in just the staff involved.
We're All on the Same Team
Don't miss the opportunity to create a cohesive team among the stakeholders. This is the event kickoff, and the last big chance to raise awareness of the goals and needs of your group. Handing out a small token of your meeting or your hometown is a nice touch. For example, a San Francisco-based company might sweeten its pre-con with samples of Ghirardelli chocolate.
See You at the Other End
The pre-con's sister meeting, the post-con, happens right after your meeting is over, with a similar cast of characters. Use the time to evaluate the meeting, review bills with accounts payable, and, perhaps most critically, complete a post-event report documenting the complete history of your event. A comprehensive post-event report template, created by the Convention Industry Council's Accepted Practices Exchange initiative, can be downloaded from www.conventionindustry.org.