By Melissa Layton
Planning a corporate group event, large or small, can seem like a daunting task managing endless details and a lot of moving parts. When it all comes together, culminating with a successful program and happy clients, there is a tremendous feeling of accomplishment that is euphoric.
Divide and Conquer – Utilize your program managers’ skills to manage the components of the event that they do best. Whether it’s transportation, activities, evening events or managing the budget, let your team use their area of expertise to coordinate those pieces of the program. From the proposal stage to the program operation to the final bill, if one manager handles all facets of one piece of the program, nothing slips through the cracks. Teamwork is key.
Communication – A production schedule that can be shared with the program managers, freelance staff and all vendors keeps everyone on the same page. Everyone is looped in on the timing and has a vision of the end goal.
Contact Sheet – Another invaluable resource is the contact information. If someone gets pulled away from the task at hand, someone else can do what needs to be done if they have the production schedule and contact sheet to continue communicating with the key players.
Reconfirm – Once you have everything on paper and are ready to roll with the program operation, make sure all staff and vendors are ready, too, by reconfirming in advance.
Be on site – You’ve planned all program elements and reconfirmed every program component with the vendors. Now as the planner, it is up to you to be there to make sure everything that was ordered is delivered as specified. There are always questions and last-minute changes; it’s your responsibility to manage these on-site. It is also an opportunity to make sure that the client is happy when the event is kicking off.
What if there is a glitch? – It happens: unanticipated wildfires, an attendee injury that sends one of your staff to cover at the hospital or a 911 incident. If you are properly staffed with trained professionals and prepared with a bulletproof schedule and contact sheet, the team can pick up the program pieces and the event will go on. While it is important to keep a client informed, if the team can go to plan B without impacting the event, it is better to update the client with a solution instead of reporting a challenge.
Final Wrap-Up – There are always end-of-the-event details that are just as important to the success as flawless planning. Allow time after the program to mail back lost-and-found items, reconcile vendor final bills while costs are fresh in your mind, survey the client about how to improve in the future, and write thank you notes to those who contributed to the success.
If you plan right down to the last detail, you can deal with last-minute changes and put out fires. Utilize the strengths of your team. Oversee the event during load in and during the actual event. Don’t let go until the final bill has been paid, and you have a happy client.
Melissa Layton, Principal at Operation Altitude, has been a meeting and event planner for 30 years. Her career in the travel industry started at Maritz Travel before moving to Chicago to plan pharmaceutical meetings, product launches and incentive travel programs. She moved to Colorado to open Operation Altitude, a destination management company, with her business partner/brother, Todd Layton, in 1997.