OK, so you’ve met with them several times already, learned a bit more about each other, and things got off to a good start. But before taking the leap of faith and building a relationship, you need to get to know them better.
No, we are not talking about your future in-laws. We are talking about your event management company 😉
Having a consultation or pre-event meetings with your event planners will ensure that all important questions get answered – your questions and theirs too! A good event organizer will be ready to understand your needs, while keeping your feet on the ground.
Meetings play an important role in event planning, but so does productivity.
The first step is knowing exactly what you need and if you really need a meeting at all. Experience tells us that clients sometimes insist on going over aspects of the event in person when they could easily be settled over the phone or an email. If you’ve hired an expert event management company, trust them: they will know if a meeting is the productive thing to do.
If that’s the case, keep in mind these recommendations when you meet with your event management company. Productive pre-event meetings are the first step to a successful event!
Attendees: giving a twist to the “10-person rule” at Google, pre-event meetings can usually be kept to five attendees or fewer. Remember that we don’t need spectators, only attendees who are key decision makers in the event planning process.
Time it wisely: Check with your event coordinator beforehand to estimate the expected length of the meeting so attendees can plan their day accordingly. Work time is precious, but there’s no point in holding a meeting so short that decisions can’t be made. Or so long that you slip into issues that don’t need to be covered. As a guideline, most event consultation meetings range between 1-2 hours, while the following meetings during the planning process can usually be settled in 45-60 minutes. Timing tip: if you’ll be addressing issues in-depth, schedule an early morning meeting so that everyone is fresh and focused and not under the post-lunch dozy spell!
Introductions: If this is one of the first meetings with the event management company, don’t cut corners when introducing your team. Supposing that you’ve taken into account our previous recomendation, everyone attending the meeting on behalf of your company is a key player in the organization of the event. Give the event manager a clear idea of who is who, the responsabilities that each person will have in the planning process, and define one relevant contact person who is authorized for ultimate decision making. The event company, on their part, must also designate a coordinator to be your contact person.
Who should lead the meeting?: If the event experts take the lead and guide you through the meeting asking clear, constructive questions, they don’t mean to take the limelight from you; they are just optimizing the productivity of the meeting. After all, event planning meetings need to deliver decisions and not more chat!
Be transparent about what you need from them and what their scope of work will be: If you are thinking of hiring some vendors yourself to save some money (catering, hostesses, AV,…) let them know. 99% of the time it really won’t help your budget that much, and 99,9% of the times you will risk having a seamless event. So be willing to hear what services they have to offer, and consider making this a true partnership. Letting the event experts do their job will not only ensure a succesfull event, it will also make your pre-event life much easier!
Budget: Don’t beat around the bush and let the event partner know what your budget is right from the start. This will avoid wasting time talking about great ideas that you can’t afford. Giving them an estimated number will allow them to offer you creative, realistic and knowledgeable options right from the start.
Event venues: If you haven’t decided on the venue yet, you may actually be doing yourself a favor. The event coordinator will be able to suggest ideal settings for the scope of your event. However, if you already know where it will take place, the meeting can include a venue walk-through. Visiting the space together at an early stage allows the planner to point out red flags you may not have thought of, and help you visualize their suggestions.
To help them get a clearer picture of what catches your eye, they may show you pictures of their portfolio. Feel free to do the same: show them images of other events you’ve atended, and even pictures of your company’s previous events, pointing out what you like.
Expect a follow-up email: The event coordinator will record and prioritize actions, and assign responsibility for tasks and timelines. The designated contact person in your company should receive meeting notes promptly so everyone can keep track of their duties and deadlines.
Think out of the box, or should we say “out of the room”?: If you’ve chosen the appropriate event management company, they will soon become true partners and an extension of your own team. So how about taking some of those shorter, follow-up meetings out of the boardroom? Informal and chair-free, during a working breakfast, you name it!
We hope that these guidelines will help you prepare your meeting with the event agency you’ve chosen. If you’re in the right hands, your dependable event partners will take care of everything, taking the stress off you and making your event everything you imagined, and then some.