A meeting that grows each year is a good thing, by most measures. But with success comes a price. More attendees could mean that the meeting has to move from a hotel to a convention center, which can be more expensive and more challenging. In Chicago last year, the topic was discussed by a panel of experts, who discussed the pitfalls and best practices.

Understand the convention center's event planning process. Planners should find out if they will be assigned one point person for all services and needs or several from the various departments. Request that the manager for the event be included in all site visits and preliminary discussions.

Know what's included in the facility rental. Don't assume things such as water, tablecloths, and other services are included. Find out if the room comes with AV equipment, and if there are charges for room sets. Determine if there are additional charges for different seating styles.

Be prepared to discuss your previous year's budget with convention center staff. They will be able to run down the list of expenses and identify items or services that will be billable. They can also inform you of items you will need that you probably didn't need at a hotel. This will help you to put together a realistic budget with no surprises.

Read the convention center facilities guide. Familiarize yourself with the center's rules and regulations before signing a contract.

Understand what exclusive contracts the convention center has in place. Meet with these service providers early to identify costs.

Know the convention center's event security requirements. Groups may be required to provide costly event security.

Make sure that there is no fine print allowing your group to be bumped for another event.