Professional Meeting Planners: Successful Meeting Planning


Why hire a professional meeting planner to find and negotiate a site (venue/location)? (part 2)


By Allan Stark
Vice President
Gershaw Conference Group, Inc


Continued from Part 1

So what does a Meeting Site Selection Service typically include and involve?

First a meeting planner should listen. And then they should ask questions. If you haven't planned a meeting before, the questions should make you think about your meeting and these questions from the meeting planner should lead you to ask your own questions. The process should educate you about what is important and what isn't...based on your needs. In short, the meeting planner and you will work together to determine your specifications, requirements, and preferences.  

Armed with this information, the meeting planner will perform a thorough search of available facilities or venues. If the location is a key "need" of your meeting, then they will focus on the location or locations that you provide. If the facility, amenities, or level of service is the primary concern, then they will search a broader area looking for your "must haves". Depending on the timeline and your directives, the meeting planner will then either present the alternatives all at once or "on the fly" as the venues or properties respond to their requests. In either case, an experience meeting planner will highlight the best alternatives for your meeting and they should tell you why they see them as the best alternatives. 

What about Site Inspections?

A meeting site inspection is simply a visit to the hotel, conference center, or other venue being considered. The site is inspected first hand to make sure that it lives up to ratings and claims. It is the best way to make sure that the site is appropriate for your meeting. Typically, the meeting planner travels to the location(s) either with you or on your behalf and then meets with the property's sales person or team to tour the property. The meeting space, guest rooms, level of service, property condition, layout, and any other amenities or items that may influence the success of your meeting are all inspected.

Is this a necessary expense?

During the Site Selection and Contract Negotiations process, a first hand inspection of a site is highly recommended to ensure that the best site is selected for your meeting. Our inspection experience can identify and highlight both positive and negative aspects that cannot be quantified by reviewing sales literature or meeting contracts. In addition, face to face meetings with facility representatives allow a meeting planner to develop relationships that can be beneficial during final contract negotiations. As an alternative, a local independent meeting planner can perform the inspection. This saves on time and travel expense. GCG Event Partners has meeting planners across the country with in 2 hours of any destination. Utilizing this resource is an excellent way to reduce costs during the site inspection process and if your meeting will require additional on-site managers or staff during the meeting, this is an excellent way to "get them onboard" early in the process.


To be continued....


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