Meeting Planning Tips
There are three keys to a successful meeting – planning, marketing and paying attention to the details! Here are some ideas from the GCSAA meeting planning team, and from Lori Russell, executive director of the Idaho GCSA, the Inland Empire GCSA and the Peaks & Prairies GCSA.
Site and venue selection
Ideally, our members will attend our events no matter where they are held, but that isn’t always the case. Keep these ideas in mind while you are searching for the “perfect” location.
- Is it convenient? Can my members get there easily (i.e. near major highways, etc.)?
- Does it portray the image our chapter is trying to project? Is it a professional setting?
- Does your chapter tend to have meetings in the same area? Try changing locations to reach all members in the chapter.
Negotiating Hotel Properties
If you have your meeting or educational event in a hotel, try to keep these suggestions in mind for a stress free negotiation.
- Prepare your requirements/needs in advance before you make initial contact with the property. This helps both parties determine if the hotel is a good fit for your chapter function.
- Do your homework! Does the property have competition in the immediate vicinity? Is this an “off” time of year for meetings/group events? Is your meeting on an “off” day of the week? If you can find out this information it might work to your advantage for a reduced rate.
- Once you decide to go with a hotel, convey everything you need/expect up front. Put it in writing in the form of a meeting planning logistics sheet.
- Be up front with the hotel regarding the amount you would like to spend. This helps the hotelier write up your contract.
Just like the saying goes, “make sure you read the fine print”. Here are some tips.
- Look carefully for penalties or attrition clauses
- If an agreed upon item is missing, write it in
- If you disagree with a penalty, clause or any item in the contract – cross it out! If the hotel really needs that item in the contract they’ll come back to you, but many times they won’t.
- Make sure to double-check reservation cut-off dates and address how they handle late reservations. Will the late reservations go towards your room-block minimum?
- Include a provision to receive credit for rooms booked out of block.
- The registration mailer is vitally important – include as much details about the meeting as possible
- Promote service points, education points and pesticide recertification points if applicable
- Introduce the meeting date as early as possible
- Start months in advance and build up promotion of event
- Include topics that could also interest related associations or course employees at specific annual events and target appropriately
Details, Details, Details
- Room set-up – How you set up the meeting room depends on what type of meeting you plan to have. Check out our room set-up grid for a quick guide.
- As a rule, ordering break items a la carte is less expensive than the hotel’s packaged per person breaks.
- Get a variety of break items – if it’s not on the menu, just ask!
- Another cost saving idea – less beef for lunch.