Every program is unique, but it's a pretty good rule that all events take more planning time when held outside the United States. The timelines below for large meetings are meant as guidelines for structuring your 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 destination management company.

  • Select the official car rental agency.

  • Assemble the exhibitor prospect lists.

  • Set registration fees and cancellation/change policy.

  • Define promotional strategy.

  • Prepare first calendar notices and press releases.

16 Months Out

  • Arrange insurance coverage.

  • Develop logo, graphic theme.

  • Establish exhibit space rates.

  • Produce exhibit floor plan.

14 to 15 Months Out

  • Invite, confirm key speakers.

  • Determine preliminary food and beverage requirements.

  • Negotiate menus and prices.

  • Select translation equipment or company.

  • Mail first exhibitor promo.

  • Adjust exhibitor floor plan (ongoing).

  • Prepare and mail first meeting announcements and promotion to prospective attendees.

  • Request lists of AV requirements 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, mail third promotion.

  • Adjust budget.

  • Confirm AV, translation needs.

  • Assign speaker locations, times.

2 to 3 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 prep on-site.
  • Set up supervision of meeting.


  • Pack and inventory materials.
  • Reconcile finances.
  • Conduct post-budget performance review.