Introduction To Professional Meeting And Event Planning

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  • Welcome to Introduction to Professional Meeting and Event Management. Throughout this course, you will learn the basic skills and concepts needed to plan successfulmeetings. You will work through the logistics of building a meeting plan to gain an overall understanding of contract negotiation, menu planning, budgeting, site selection, and on-site management. The importance of relationship building will also be discussed. This course is geared for those who do not have formal training in the industry and are either currently planning meetings on a full time basis or as part of another function in their companies.
  • The agenda for this session is to cover some housekeeping items and actual course content.On a housekeeping note we will go over the objectives for this class and personal goals, administrative policies, and review of the group and final project.We will then jump into some content and begin the discussion about meeting goals and objectives, group history, and site selection. I will end the session with some industry resources and talk a little bit about the homework for next week, which is also outlined in the syllabus.
  • The overall goal of this course is for you to gain an understanding of how to design a successful meeting or event from inception to completion and all aspects involved. Throughout the course you will engage in activities that will simulate real-world application of the phases of meeting planning, all of which will result in your final project. While there are structured activities and topics essential to this course, I would also like to make sure we cover the topics that are relevant to what is happening in your jobs right now. As a way of getting to know each other and to learn more about what your needs and expectations are for this course, I ask that you post a brief autobiography on the class discussion board. Profiles and biographies should be completed by the end of this week. In your profile or biography, include your level of experience within the meetings industry and what your personal goals are for this course. Also indicate if there any topics you hope we cover. Please also feel free to include your background, interests, hobbies, and where you are located. Networking and relationships are the key to successful outcomes more times than not. Networking and establishing a tight network of colleagues is really important, especially in this industry. Hopefully the biographies and profiles will serve as a mini-network. My hope is that you will collaborate and work closely together beyond this course. Keep in mind, myself and any other meeting planner you ask has never met a successful planner who worked in a silo.
  • Each week you will be expected to:Review the week's learning objectivesComplete all assigned readingsComplete all lecture materials for the weekParticipate in the discussion boardComplete and submit all assignments by due datesA discussion on a topic that is based on readings or videos for the week will be posted. Participation is required and is worth up to a total of 25% of your final grade. The idea is for you to provide your thoughts and ideas and to engage in discussion. Negotiation Group Project - 25% of total course grade"Who has the best deal?"- How to talk with suppliers and what you can expect This is a two part assignment. Part I:Each student will be assigned to a group and a role (client, hotelier, or meeting planner) to play in a contract negotiation activity. You will negotiate the terms of given contract in the best interest to your role using the assigned discussion board. Track your rationale for each response for discussion summary. Each group will have the chance to interact via Skype for a live negotiation meeting. Be prepared! Bring your research and have your justifications ready. Remember to outline your must haves vs. what you would like to have. What you would like to have are bonuses. The goal is to get the must haves without compromising the goals of the conference. Part II: Offer comments to other group scenario summaries and outcomes. The comments do not have to be in the "voice" of your particularly assigned role. Comment as an outside reader highlighting what you thought was good or could have been better. Offer your suggestions for how you may have gone about the negotiation.Final Project - 50% of total course gradeFinal project will be graded on the inclusion of all required materials, content showing understanding of meeting development, effort put into final project. Project is due on the final week of the course and requires a written presentation.Each week we will cover a new phase of the meeting planning process and you will be assigned an activity that is a direct application of that phase. For example, you will be contacting hotels to request meeting kits. You must select a meeting that you are currently planning at work and use this group profile/meeting requirements for the weekly activities. The final project will be all of the activities demonstrating your knowledge and skill in planning a successful meeting within the given parameters (i.e. group profile, needs, goals and objectives).  If you do not have a meeting or group in mind, you are free to make up the meeting and the group profile or I am happy to assign one to you.  The final project will be graded on the inclusion of all required materials, content showing understanding of meeting development, effort put into final project. You will Project is due on the final week of the course and requires a written presentation.Students are encouraged to support one another and to share challenges and barriers they face as they move through each phase on the discussion board.
  • It is really important to get to know your audience/participants for the meeting or event you are planning. How can we do this if we don’t actually work with them on a daily basis – maybe we work in a very large company and don’t know the clients at all. For example, lets say you are a planning a meeting for =employees at a large technology firm. The age ranges from 30-50 year olds and the male to female ratio is 40/50. The employees attending are in various positions from administrative to senior management. So why is this important?? Well, it tells us what kinds of activities we should include during the meeting or during down time; it also helps us plan the menu – maybe we can develop a theme around the cuisine or vice versa; and it tells us something about the language we might use on the materials pre, during, and post conference. We are not speaking to only higher ups who may speak a completely different language from the administrative staff.Also – have you organized this meeting before? What type of venue did you use? What was the result? What has changed since that meeting? So, for example if I planned a meeting 6 years ago for a particular group and will now be meeting with them again, has technology had a significant impact on how they conduct business? Do you have results from evaluations from previous meetings? What was your budget? How did it work? What did NOT work?
  • Objectives are usually defined as clear statements of anticipated results. Objectives should be:Possible – are these realistic goals and do they match the actual needs of the client? Do client expectations for a meeting venue, for example meet the objectives? If you are having a business meeting where people are flying in and out for short spurts of time does it make sense to host the event in a tropical resort or perhaps at an airport hotel?Listed in writing – this pertains to your contracts and as far as what your plan will be at execution of the meeting. Everything is clearly documented. Documentation through each phase of the meeting planning process makes sure everything is tied to the goals and objectives. Good check points. Through this course I will be sharing some template that are useful for documentations. You may come across some of your own – please share!Attainable – are the goals attainable? Again, goes back to asking – is this realistic? And what is the purpose of the meeting?And Numerical – referring to the ability to measure the goals. You are going to work within a budget – you can measure and quantify that – you are going to make sure or work hard to get your numbers or that your target number for attendance is achieved, and you will use evaluations to measure the success of the meeting or event. All of these will contribute to your Return on Investment which we will discuss later in the course. The Return on Investment is what tells the company that having the meeting had an impact and was worth it. This can be measured by the aforementioned and does not necessarily have to amount to profit in dollars but could also be measured skill. For example, a training for physicians proves a decrease in the number of return visits by a certain target of patients as a results of the skills learned from the training conference.
  • So, how can we get to know a group well enough and in a short amount of time to plan a meeting that meets the goals and objectives of the sponsoring client as well as those of the attendees? You can conduct a focus group, usually comprised of 8-10 people randomly selected to help determine the audience priorities. This is usually facilitated by a third party person or the meeting planner if they do not work closely with the group or is not a direct stakeholder.Surveys and questionnaires is another way to collect data about a group. It is increasingly easy today because of all the free technology available - like or And finally – past profiles. Did you organize an event (if not the same one) for this group already? This goes back to the questions we went over in a previous slide. And if you did not plan for the group before – who has???
  • Examining available information from past meetings will help you design a successful meeting program. Hotels used for past events can provide information on the room pick-up (or how many rooms per night were rented by your group) and check-in/check-out patterns. Each property can provide reports on food and beverage, recreation, room service and housekeeping requests. This information in not only helpful for you to plan accordingly to the goals and objectives of the meeting, but is extremely helpful for contract negotiation. For example, you can take a look at the data that hotels who have hosted the event or group before. Hotels and venues typically will hold the group information on file for 3-5 years. This is particularly helpful for contract negotiation. For example, I have a group that I host three conference exclusively at one hotel in Cambridge, MA. One of the programs was going into its 10th year and we wanted to host a 10 year anniversary party and invite the alumni back. By requesting and reviewing previous year data, I was able to make a strong case for why the hotel should donate the space and food to the group for the one evening. I also explained that we have 6 future contracts signed and by looking at the group data, the hotel would be making money from our participants in other places in the hotel – for example, the auxillary spend was in the spa, on site restaurant and bar, and in the business center. With that they granted the request. I tell you this story to demonstrate that DATA IS KING. It gives you something to fall back on with regard to value.Other ways to find information about a client you don’t know well – the internet, through connections/other meeting planners, and new presses.
  • The 8 basic, yet essential, steps for site selection include: Identify the meeting objectivesGather historical dataDetermine the physical requirements of the meetingConsider attendee interests and expectationsSelect an area and type of facilityPrepare meeting specifications and a RFP Review and evaluation siteSelect a siteSteps 1-5 inform step number 6, preparing the request for proposal. The request for proposal outlines all the details and “must haves” for your event. It gives the hotel an overview of the event. It includes the dates for your event, the guestroom block, the number of VIPs, the needed amount of space, and the schedule for meals. This is a broad yet some what detailed overview that will help potential hotels bid for your business. You can submit these online on specific hotel and property websites or you can go through city Convention Visitors Bureaus and they can distribute on your behalf. In your reading, a more detailed process is outlined and a template is shared.
  • A number of details must be attended to pre, during, and post conference. Luckily, there are a number of resources available to meeting planners who are novice through seasoned. Some of my favorite are listed here. As you work on your projects you may come across some other great websites and resources. I encourage you to post them on the course wiki that I have created. The wiki link can be found on the course homepage.


    Session 1
  • 2. AGENDA
    Objectives for this class and personal goals
    Administrative policies
    Review of group and final project
    Establishing goals and objectives in meeting and event management
    Group history – know your group!
    Site Selection Part I
    Industry resources
    Weekly discussion
    Negotiation group project: Who has the best deal?
    25% of your total grade
    Two parts to include – role research, actual negotiation, feedback on other group scenarios.
    Bonus points for best negotiation
    Final Project
    50% of your total grade
    Build on weekly assignments using a group profile or event you are currently working on
    Include: request for proposal (RFP), program planning timeline, meeting agenda, budget, specification guide, return on investment summary, and “vital lists”
    A goal is where you want to be. . .Objectives is how you get there . . .
    The first step to setting the goal “The purpose of the meeting (or event) is to . . .”
    Some questions to consider:
    How are you going to achieve this goal?
    What changes might you have to make in order to reach the goal?
    Do you require assistance in attaining the goal? From who?
    Are you able to reach the goal within current resource limits: time, people, money?
    Second step: Analyze your target audience
    Who are they?
    Where do they come from?
    What do they need?
    Other critical information from past and prospective attendees
  • 7. Objectives are usually defined as clear statements of anticipated results. Objectives should be:
    P = Possible
    L = Listed in writing
    A = Attainable
    N = Numerical or quantifiable/measureable
    Focus Group: Usually 8-10 randomly selected members of the organization can help determine the priorities of the target audience. Facilitated.
    Surveys or Questionnaires:
    Low cost and can reach hundreds of people. This can be done electronically or by print either on site or after the meeting (also pre-meeting or a needs assessment)
    Past Profiles:
    Previous meetings or events for the group.
    What information is available to you?
    Past meeting portfolios from past meeting planners and/or hotel data
    Interview/ RFP process
    Connections and news presses
    The most important factor in site selection is the choice of facility is congruent with the overall goal of the event and associated activities.
    Identify the meeting objectives
    Gather historical data
    Determine the physical requirements of the meeting
    Consider attendee interests and expectations
    Select an area and type of facility
    Prepare meeting specifications and a RFP
    Review and evaluate sites
    Select a site
    A course wiki has been created for us to share industry resources: articles, videos, WebPages, templates. Here is a list to get us started:
  • 13. HOMEWORK
    Using a group history/profile, write a RFP. See template on APEX website: 
    Use the Internet or call a CVB to identify three potential sites for your meeting project. Using the information you have for your meeting (part of your final project) call and interview the sales manager at each site. Record the pros and cons of hosting your event at the particular site.
    Choose one of the potential sites for your project (based on your notes and research) and schedule and conduct a site inspection by the end of next session
    Post your autobiography and response to this week’s discussion on the course discussion board: Name the property you chose for your project and describe how you chose the property. How did the group profile play a role in your selection? Also, comment on the contents of your conference/sales kit. Was there anything that surprised you? And what was not listed in the kit? Why?
  • 14. QUESTIONS???
    Discussion board Q&A section