Today there always seems to be someone stating that they have they latest and greatest conference planning guide to help you do your meeting planning job. But what factors do you look for when selecting the best guide? Are printed guides better than online guides? Are they free? Well the simple answer depends on what your needs are.
A Conference Planning Guide Keeps the Planner Focused
If you’re a planner with the task with putting together a large corporate meeting, chances are there will be many elements to the conference. Of course, many of the larger conferences have planners that know their way around a convention center – or at least they had better know their way around. These planners, however seasoned, rely on a conference planning guide to know exactly what stage of the planning process they are in. Most planners are detail oriented by the very nature of their jobs. It’s not uncommon for these people to have guides that can be dozens, or even hundreds, of pages in length. To these planners, it’s all about the details. So it’s very important in the planning stages that each and every small item is addressed.
Look for Substance in a Conference Planning Guide. A sampling of items that a good guide covers are:
- Budgets / Contracts
- The Destination
- Hotels / Conference Centers
- The Meeting Rooms Set-up / Equipment
- Food & Beverage
- Free Time
- Planning for the Unexpected
There are Many Free Conference Planning Guides
The best place to find a good conference planning guide is the city’s convention and visitor’s bureau or CVB as they are referred to. A CVB conference planning guide is generally neutral on where to stay, eat etc. as it’s their duty to represent the city as a whole. Or at the very least their members. So even if your next meeting isn’t a large one, consider going on the CVB’s website as there will be a lot of complimentary planning information to help you.
Another great area for complimentary guides is your hotel contact. All of the major hotel brands offer meeting assistance. Some better than others. Take Marriott for example. They offer a complete step by step guide that basically walks you through the process. Check out the detailed guide that Marriott offers here.
There are many resources available for a good conference planning guide. You may even develop your own over time from your experiences. As with everything we do, we never set out to make mistakes. However, if and when you do make mistakes (and you will), it’s what you learn from them that will become part of your own conference planning guide.