The six-month lead time modeled here unfortunately is often a luxury nowadays. It can be compressed into three months if need be.

Six Months Out

  • Establish meeting objectives, subjects to be covered, and theme.

  • Determine who is to attend, including local guests and other VIPs.

  • Create checklist for all meeting segments and assign responsibility and completion dates.

  • Select several possible meeting dates and sites.

  • Contact CVBs, hotels/conference centers, and Web sites.

  • Check references from planners of recent and comparable meetings and select facility.

Four to Six Months Out

  • Inform potential attendees of date and place of meeting.

  • Issue media release.

  • Refine program and agenda.

  • Select topics and speakers, including AV requirements.

  • Negotiate and sign facilities contracts, including F&B, meeting room(s)/time of use, other clauses (e.g., attrition, indemnification, etc.).

  • Contract with airlines, ground transportation, and a destination management company, as necessary.

  • Order and confirm delivery date of giveaways.

  • Determine shipping arrangements for materials.

  • Select photographer, entertainment, and security vendors.

  • Arrange for on-site office and communications needs, including Internet provider.

Three Months Out

  • Obtain rights and permission for any material that you intend to reproduce.

  • Arrange airport meet-and-greet, particularly if security clearance and passes are needed.

Two Months Out

  • Determine meeting room setups.
  • Order signage.

Four to Six Weeks Out

  • Copy materials for distribution.

  • Reconfirm arrangements with all suppliers.

  • Send attendees information about the meeting, including facilities and location.

Two Weeks Out

  • Ship materials in numbered boxes or containers to site and confirm acceptance and temporary storage location of materials.

  • Prepare name badges for all attendees.

Three Days Out to Post-Meeting

  • Brief staff about on-site responsibilities.

  • Check inventory of supplies shipped in advance.

  • Hold a pre-con meeting to review last-minute changes.

  • Meet with facility accounting staff to confirm procedures for review of charges to master account.

  • Confirm the information that is to be posted on reader boards.

  • Provide a list of attendees, highlighting VIPs, to telephone operators. Review procedures with security staff.

  • Review the rooming list with the front desk and confirm all preregistered attendees; inspect rooms that are assigned to VIPs and attendees requiring rooms that meet ADA standards.

  • Check weather reports and review alternate arrival plans; coordinate airport meet-and-greet.

  • Plan separate post-meeting followups with your own staff and facility, and issue specific gratuities.

  • Send a thank-you letter to the facility.

Harvey Paul Davidson, CHME, CMP, chairman, Ad Hoc Committee, of Westfield, N.J., contributed to this timeline.