Communication Leads to Successful Events

By: Xavier Gallery

As a Conference Coordinator, I am regularly asked for my advice on how to improve a meeting or conference. While there are many different ways to develop an existing event, I find most problems that arise in event planning center on a lack of communication. The transfer of accurate information is vital in the presentation of the final product. This includes communication between the planner and the facility coordinator, as well as the planner and the attendees. A breakdown in either one of these channels can create unnecessary problems.

When an event planner works with a venue, the facility coordinator relies on the planner to provide an accurate description of the event. This overview should include precise details regarding time frames, setup needs, and menu selections. The planner should also have a realistic estimate on the number of attendees. When these needs change, or uncertainty arises, it is important to contact your facility coordinator immediately. Time is a non-renewable resource in meeting planning, and the more time that is provided to adjust to changes will increase the probability of success. Even if an adjustment is subtle, like adding an additional microphone, the advance knowledge of the change will allow for a smoother presentation (i.e. no technicians running across the room for a microphone on the morning of the show).

The event planner is also the hub of communication for the attendees, and this is undoubtedly a tireless task. Unfortunately, relying on feedback alone does not always work. Attendees are often unfamiliar with facility contract dates and other deadlines. The assumption is that they can wait until the last minute to decide whether or not to RSVP. The most efficient planners I work with counter this lasses-faire attitude by offering incentives to early registrants, or by simply requiring registration weeks in advance. This ensures accurate compliance with facility attendance projections.

Even after the registration process is complete, the planner faces the equally dubious task of information distribution. The most common shortcomings I witness in this area are failures to provide driving directions, venue signage, and contact information. Again, the most efficient planners assume ignorance with these issues and plan accordingly. I recommend multiple sources of directions, a contact hotline for last minute inquiries, and colorful signage throughout the venue. These ideas not only increase the comfort level of attendees, but they also eliminate wasted time for the planner on the day of the event.

Communication is the most important component of any meeting or event. Facility coordinators and attendees rely on the meeting planner to walk them through each step of the way. While it may seem unfair to inherit such responsibility, the professional event planner recognizes that this is the only way to truly leave their signature on an event. All events evolve over the planning process, and it is those who are aware of how change affects the intricacies of an event that find the most success. I recommend spending equal amounts of time on establishing both event directives and communication channels, because the first objective has no chance without the latter.

Communications
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