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, if necessary.

- 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 audiovisual requirements.

- Negotiate and sign facilities contracts, including food and beverage, 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 materials shipping arrangements.

- Select photographer, entertainment, and security vendors.

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

Three Months Out - Obtain rights and permissions 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 necessary 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 precon 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 rooming list with front desk and confirm all preregistered attendees; inspect rooms 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 follow-ups with your own staff and facility, and issue specific gratuities.

- Send thank you to facility.