Here are a number of Frequently Answered Questions:
What Is A "Meeting Planning Consultant"?
Meeting planning consultants - also known as independent meeting planners, are professionals who provide a wide variety of highly specialized services to clients who run meetings. These meetings may be small gatherings or huge trade shows. They have one common denominator: they require expert help to make sure they are well organized and run properly.
Who Needs A Meeting Planning Consultant?
Associations, Non-Profit Organizations, and Government
Agencies: Volunteer committees charged with producing meetings and conventions or
selling exhibits; lay leaders of religious and philanthropic organizations who arrange
fundraising projects and special events; paid staff who need extra hands to get the
Corporations: Executives and officers responsible for producing board and other meetings; sales managers who plan sales conferences and incentive programs/trips; secretaries who work on staff meetings and company outings; personnel departments conducting training sessions; meeting planners who find themselves temporarily short staffed.
What Can A Meeting Planning Consultant Do For Me And How?
Meeting planning consultants can save or make you money.
Negotiate the most favorable rates with hotels, caterers, transportation services, entertainment companies, audio-visual production houses, speakers, and all of the suppliers and services required.
Utilize their years of experience and industry contacts to secure the most favorable and cost-effective meeting possible. They know what to ask for and whom to ask - when they negotiate on their client's behalf...on your behalf!
Sell an exhibit, find sponsors, raise funds for needed capital, develop ancillary sources of income.
Meeting planning consultants can save you time and effort.
Travel for you, investigate sites you can not get to yourself, recommend meeting destinations. Their expertise in these matters will allow you to focus on your own responsibilities.
Obtain any special services you need-from registration to printing, copyrighting or publicity, and other hard-to-find technical skills-so you do not have to commit staff time to researching suppliers and prices.
Meeting planning consultants can create the most on target
programs for your needs. Consultants can...
Help define the objectives of your meeting; develop a central theme for your promotion and programs as well as work with media to cover your events.
Find professional speakers to address your group.
Provide on-site management.
Plan the "social side" of your event, such as parties, menus, liquor control and spouse programs.
Prepare a post-meeting evaluation to determine what changes or improvements are needed in the future.
Meeting planning consultants can supplement your own
staff. They will...
Complement your overextended staff with extra hands on a temporary basis.
Provide expertise in such highly specialized areas as promotion, marketing, budgeting, exhibit sales, logistics, travel and hotel arrangements and registration.
Bring fresh ideas to your in-house meeting department to give you another perspective.
Meeting planning consultants can help you avoid mistakes
-expensive ones! They can...
Assist in drafting a budget before you make any expenditures and help you monitor that budget before, during and after your meeting.
Draw from their years of seasoned experience to assess your needs and show you how to fine-tune your meeting to best suit your financial and programming objectives.
Provide you with financial management services, such as collecting fees, holding money in escrow, approving and paying bills, etc. (usually for associations).
How Much Does It Cost to Hire A Meeting Planning Consultant?
Meeting planning consultants bill for their services in the same way as other professional consultants: hourly, daily, per project, per person, by commission, or on annual retainer (usually for associations). Whichever method you are quoted, you should be aware that the consultant is charging you for his/her expertise in how to best meet your project or program goals. It is important, therefore, to make sure that you and your meeting consultant have the same basic understanding of the tasks at hand. You are paying for the consultant's time, experience and expertise. In the long run, you will find that the consultant saves you money because he/she knows how to accomplish the task that needs to be performed more economically and in a shorter amount of time, resulting in a better-managed meeting.
How Do I Know If Meeting Planning Consultant Is Qualified? What Credentials Should I Ask For?
References are obviously the best recommendation for a meeting planning consultant. Ask your consultant for several references and be sure to follow up on them. Ask if the consultant is a member of a professional association that conducts regular educational sessions and ask if he or she attends them. Hiring a consultant who keeps abreast of new technologies, trends, and cost effectiveness procedures in the meeting planning industry should be an important criteria to clients. Some of the meetings industry professional organizations a consultant is likely to belong to are: Meeting Planners International, Professional Convention Management Association, and the Society of Government Meeting Planners.