by Janet Hiemstra


For several years my wife, Janet, worked as a meeting planner for Laubach Literacy (now ProLiteracy). Previously when I taught a program planning course for Syracuse University, she lectured on what she did and had learned. The following is an outline from that lecture. It will provide you with some insight on what all a professional meeting planner does to prepare for a conference.


I. Meeting Site

A. Meeting requirements - "Specs"

1. Preferred dates

2. Preferred arrival/departure patterns

3. Estimated number of attendees

4. Daily sleeping room requirements

5. Suite requirements

6. Daily meal and meeting requirements

7. Exhibit requirements

8. Special requests

9. Competing cities

10. Decision process

B. Contact process

C. "Sales lead"

D. Site visits

E. Contract negotiations

1. Attitude of teamwork between meeting planner and Convention Bureau (CVB)/hotel

2. What makes your meeting attractive to CVB/hotel?

a. Meeting dates (time of year)

b. Weekend vs. weekday/holidays

c. Number of attendees

d. Food and beverage functions/cash concessions

e. Ratio of needed meeting rooms to guest rooms

f. Prestige, influence of sponsoring organizations

3. Guest room (sleeping rooms)

a. Room block - Total rooms needed/single vs. double

b. Reservations

(1) Policy on guaranteed reservations and deposits (three day window)

(2) Maximum number of rooms available

(3) Conference rate vs. rack rate

(4) Guaranteed cap on room rate by conference date

(5) Procedure for making reservations (reservations cards complimentary or charged?)

(6) Confirmation cards sent to whom?/timing of response

(7) Complimentary ("comp") room ratio

(8) Cut-off dates for registration

c. Special events needs

d. Storage needs for exhibitors/presenters

e. Parking

f. Special needs

g. Rebate from hotels (padding guest room rate)

F. Overflow hotels needs for required guest rooms? (who handles reservations)

G. Decision process for selecting meeting site


II. Conference Committees

A. Responsibilities/Timeline

B. Handbook for Conference


III. Drayage company/publisher exhibits


IV. Travel Agencies - official


V. Convention Services Coordinator/Manager


VI. Registration process

A. Pre-registration

B. On-site registration

C. Earlier date for pre-conference?


VII. Meeting space/food and beverage functions

A. Rental fees

B. Meal functions

1. Attendance history/estimate

2. Menu selection/cost

3. Deadline for guarantees; % overage set-up

4. Gratuities charged (incorporate into meal prices)

5. "Padding" the negotiated meal prices


VIII. Assignment of meeting rooms for special events/seminars


IX. Audio visual equipment

X. Banquet event orders (BEOs)/Function sheets


XI. Billing procedures

A. Names of authorized signer(s); review each day

B. Master account/direct billing

1. Who is included?

2. Authorized charges (room, meals, incidentals?)

3. Billing cycle - upon departure or 30 days

C. Complimentary rooms

D. Special amenities for VIPs

E. Billing of conferees

XII. Pre-conference meeting ("Pre-con" meeting)


XIII. Miscellaneous items

A. Graphics/image/logo/theme

1. ASK ME buttons

2. Balloons

3. T-shirts

B. Conference publications

1. Deadlines

2. Presentation folder, program

C. Hospitality

1. ASK ME tables

2. Information sheets

3. Walkie talkies

D. Publications for meeting planners

E. Characteristics of a successful meeting planner


2. Forecaster of possible problems


Created January 1, 2009

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