All your excellent planning now comes to fruition onsite. This is the most satisfying and exciting part of being a conference planner!
Plan to arrive at least one day prior to the conference to handle pre-event coordination and set-up. Add additional days into your contract for larger events requiring more set up time. Allow also for potential travel delays.
Upon arrival, walk through the venue and locate or re-familiarize yourself with:
Identify and introduce yourself to venue and vendor staff
Review any outstanding action items with venue staff and vendors to prepare for Pre-Con meeting
Check on any VIP arrangements (room drops, early arrivals, suite upgrades, etc…)
Locate, have delivered and unpack any materials shipped to the venue
Set up the registration area (see Onsite Registration Checklist)
Conduct staff orientation and training, if necessary
Supervise set-up of A/V, Exhibit Hall, meeting room arrangements and décor
Schedule speaker rehearsals (if not already done previously)
Check conference printed and digital signage and reader boards for accuracy of information and proper placement
Conduct pre-con meeting with venue staff and key players
The Pre-Con is conducted onsite by the venue staff responsible for the execution of the conference. The meeting usually takes place a day or two before the event and will review and confirm all of the event details in-depth.
Prior to the event, the venue will create an Event Resume and Banquet Event Orders (BEOs), which compile all the details of the entire event, including:
Description of the conference, audience and host group
Rooming list, including:
Amenity and room drop deliveries
Food and beverage selections and details and final guarantee
Allergies or dietary requirements of attendees
List of authorized decision makers and approved signers to the master account
Exhibitor set up information
Shipping and receiving plans and loading dock schedules
Convention Services Manager (venue)
Sales Manager (venue)
Reservations Manager (venue)
Housekeeping Manager (venue)
Front Desk Manager (venue)
Banquets Manager (venue)
Audiovisual/IT Representative (venue)
Conference planner (group)
Other key contacts (group)
Critical outside vendors (e.g. decorator, A/V, production company, etc…)
Contact information for yourself, your onsite team and your hired vendors during the conference
Last minute questions or concerns
List of final changes
Banquet Event Orders (BEOs) for final review
Overviews of the conference, host organization and agenda
Review of the conference resume and BEOs
Mention of you or your clients expectations from the venue staff and any special notes
Awareness of any other events happening in the venue during your conference
Create a daily timeline listing your team members and their onsite duties
If using volunteers or additional hired staff make sure they are at their designated posts on time
Check in with any outside vendors to be sure they are on schedule for deliveries, transportation, pick-ups, etc.
Place signage each day and ensure hotel reader boards are accurate
Check room set-ups one hour prior to meeting start time to ensure they have been set per your request. If possible, have rooms set the evening prior to your start day
Check all audiovisual equipment prior to meeting start time to make sure it is working properly and any operators are in place and have program information
Plan a rehearsal the day before each General Session and involve any key players necessary (emcee, speakers, award winners, entertainment)
Check room temperatures – adjust if necessary
View the meeting rooms through the eyes of an attendee. Can they see and hear, and are they comfortable?
Make sure all presenters are in their meeting rooms at least 30 minutes prior to start time
Ensure all décor and food and beverage are delivered on time and consist of selected items; it is standard practice for food and beverage to be set out 15 minutes prior to the time listed on you banquet event order, however, the set up for the food should be placed prior to the 15 minute window
Request headcounts from Banquet Manager after each meal function to create a history of actual attendees served
Review and sign banquet checks at the end of each day, noting any added items and consumption costs
Verify that arrangements are in place for the next meal, session, activity, etc.
Conduct staff and client briefings as necessary
Troubleshoot any situations as they arise
Incorporate end of day wrap up meetings with key players to discuss the day and what to expect in the following days
Make a list of service issues, complaints and concerns for later negotiations and post-conference meetings
Review daily lodging no-show and pick-up lists from the venue
Sign off on audiovisual checks each day, noting any additions or changes
Conduct or schedule a post-conference meeting with the venue and client
Collect any materials you wish to save for archives or donate to a local charity
Pack and ship materials
Check in with venue contact before you depart
Handle any vendor and staff gratuities
Consider giving gratuities to individuals who were particularly helpful during your event. Be clear on the venue’s policy on gratuities, whether salaried staff can accept gratuities. Understand who the recipients are of any contracted gratuities and service fees. Keep a list of helpful staff throughout the event, to make this process easier at the end.
Consider giving gratuities to:
Request a cash advance against your master bill for gratuities, be sure to keep a record of the total amount and how it was distributed. NOTE: some hotels will not allow this - you can ask about this in advance or during the Pre-Con.
Bring some blank note cards with you in order to write handwritten notes to the recipients, these may also be written in advance.
You may also consider giving leftover T-shirts, tote bags or other goodies from the conference instead of or in addition to cash