Professional Meeting Planners: Successful Meeting Planning


Why hire a professional meeting planner to find and negotiate a site (venue/location)? (Part 1)


By Allan Stark
Vice President
Gershaw Conference Group, Inc


The answer to this often asked question depends on the size and scope of the meeting.

If you are handling a small, simple meeting then the do-it-yourself approach will work fine. Of course, we recommend that you have some meeting planning experience or at minimum do some basic research to learn what to look out for. Another way to be successful at do-it-yourself site selection and contract negotiations, is to hire a consultant. Usually a quick discussion with an experienced meetings professional can quickly put you on the path to selecting the right site with the right terms. We offer consultations as part of our services, and we can also refer you to one of the 1,000 plus independent meeting planners who are members of the GCG Event Partners Network.

If your meeting is large and/or complex, then we recommend that you hire a professional meeting planner. More than likely, a professional will save you more than the additional cost of of their services. The experience of professional meeting planner will yield a better site, with a better contract, where the needs of the meeting are covered.

How can meeting planners offer site selection for free or fee-waived?

Many professional meeting planners offer site selection for free or they waive the fee associated for the service in many cases. They can do this because the venue, a hotel in most cases, is paying a "site selection commission" to the planner.

Does this make the meeting planner biased?

In most cases it shouldn't. The commission is fairly standard across the industry, so the meeting planner should be getting "paid" about the same no matter where the meeting is held and since most professional meeting planners rely heavily on referrals and their reputation to continue doing business, they're going to work hard to earn your business and your respect. Having a planner that is up front and honest about receiving the commission is always a good sign. We perform site selections and so does GCG Event Partners, a network of over 1,000 independent meeting planners. If you're interested in having us do a site selection for you, just use our contact form, call our offices at 1-800-378-6857, or send us an email at We're up front about commissions, have a reputation for doing excellent work (since 1989), and will work hard to make sure you rave about our services. We'll tell you if we can waive the fee and if we can't we'll explain why.

What if a meeting planner or meeting planning company is affiliated with one hotel chain?

This can work for you or against really depends on your needs. If a meeting planner is affiliated with a chain, many times they have special pricing and can get better terms, so if that chain has what you need, then you make out well. However, the site search is going to biased, it has to be because not all the prospective properties are playing on an even field. In many cases, a truly independent meeting planner with no affiliations is going to serve your needs better. They can look at the whole market and search based on your needs, not based on what their chain has available. And if the independent is worth their salt, they'll negotiate hard to get you a great deal to boot. Professional Meeting Planners is not affiliated with any hotel chains so that we can provide unbiased meeting site selections and contract negotiations. With more than 1,000 independent meeting planners in the GCG Event Partners Network, we probably have the planner that has the right experience for you . Contact us for more info.

Continued in part 2


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