Communication is critical for a successful meeting or event. Often just the process of you and your suppliers communicating goals and requirements with each other will reveal things that would otherwise slip through the cracks.
Even if you plan a conference call with your suppliers one week out, you should ensure that your suppliers are talking to each other throughout the entire preproduction process. The goal of this communication is not only to unify your suppliers' direction and streamline logistics but also to unearth items that could detract from, or add cost to, your program.
Whether you hire a production company or handle the coordination of your events yourself, you should nurture communication among all the players well in advance. Sounds simple, yet many planners--caught up in day-to-day concerns--fail to do it.
Each of the following supplier categories contains a sampling of items that are important for your producer to go over with these suppliers; left undiscussed, these things can have an impact on production behind the scenes as well as in full view of attendees. Go over these items with your producer and facilitate the producer's discussion of them with your respective suppliers.
Decor Company * Centerpieces/candles
* Pinspot lights
* Load-in/out and setup times
* Anything that creates scheduling or "real estate" conflicts in the ballroom
* Overall use of ballroom space
* Nature and placement of props; objects that could obstruct sight lines
* Equipment redundancies
* Economies, ideas for cost savings
Hotel/Venue * Space availability/scheduling conflicts with other groups (What other groups are in house?)
* Access times
* Best use of space/rooms for main tent (that's the ballroom) and breakouts
* Loading dock/elevator access with clear path to ballroom
* Who is the responsible party on site?
* Availability of adequate supply of stage risers; placement of risers/set-up time
* Setup and breakdown of rooms
* Timely banquet event order submissions and cancellations
* Budget for unplanned staff and/or equipment
Entertainers/Speakers * Event objectives
* Arrival/setup/rehearsal times, opportunities for speakers to customize material
* Content and length of presentations and entertainment AV requirements
* Ideal position in agenda/program
* Staging conflicts and/or efficiencies between business sessions
Travel Agency/* Attendee arrivals/departures; ground transfers
* Production crew routing
* Special room needs
* Times to videotape attendees or rehearse execs
* Travel expense economies
Even if you don't need ginkgo biloba to improve your memory, it doesn't hurt to keep such a list, adding to it when something new arises. But remember: It's less about a comprehensive list and more about communicating. With all the options we now have at hand, it's easier than ever to check and double-check everything.
Confirm that your producer has discussed these types of items with your other suppliers well before you pack your bags. Not only will it make you feel better, but you'll avoid a variety of problems that might adversely affect an otherwise flawless event.