3 Things that Befuddle Planners and What can be Done About Them
Feb 24, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

stress

If you are a meeting planner, you know the stress associated with planning and executing a large, complex event. You can be the best project manager and communicator in the world, but when the event actually starts to unfold, things can go sideways rather quickly. 

Here are three items that most planners deal with at every meeting and nine strategies to maximize attendee happiness and minimize your own stress levels

NO SHOWS

10 years ago, the no-show rate was about 5-10% for all meetings and conventions. Now it is about 25-30% – depending on the meeting. If your event is free to the attendee, such as a product launching event, it can be even higher. The problem with no-shows is they impact every element of your budget from food and beverage to meeting space. 

So what can you do to stop the hemorrhaging of no-shows?  

  • Communicate often with your attendees to confirm and reconfirm they are coming to your event. 
    I recommend you reach out to them 30, 15 and 7 days prior – especially if they registered early. 
     
  • Keep the event fresh in their mind by sharing the latest and greatest news about the conference. 
    Share new information about the speakers, agenda, venue and city. Use email, social channels, blogs and direct mail to maximize your message exposure. 
     
  • Overbook and oversell – without increasing your budget. 
    Look back at your meeting history for the last three years and if you have an average of 30% no-shows, overbook by that percentage. This problem is not getting better, it is actually getting worse. One other thing – set your meeting space for the total number of attendees minus your no show percentage. Speakers like a crowded room and so do attendees. You can always add more chairs, if need be. 

LAST MINUTE REQUESTS

Your speaker brought an Apple laptop instead of a Window-based one and now needs a connector for the presentation services audio visual equipment. Some of your attendees need gluten-free meals. Your CEO wants to rearrange the agenda for tomorrow's event, even though your team spent hours and hours putting together the conference binder. 

What can you do? Last minute requests are going to come up, but here are three ways to help minimize them: 

  • Get everything in writing and communicate it to the appropriate partners. 
    From the presenters' AV requirements to the BEO, it is important to get every moving part of your event in writing and communicate these documents to suppliers via email or a shared cloud platform. 
     
  • Make certain your registration form is complete. 
    The best way to avoid last minute requests from attendees is to ask them about their meal, rooming and anything else pertinent to meeting. 
     
  • Get rid of the conference binder and rent iPads and use Video Walls
    The best way to communicate last minute changes is through social media, texting or emails. If you provide each attendee with an iPad at the beginning of your conference, you can communicate real-time changes quickly and easily. In addition, they can be posted on a Video Wall rental unit or all to view. 

TECHNOLOGY PROBLEMS

Your PowerPoint presentation equipment freezes. Your speaker's mic cuts in and out. Or the Internet is slow as molasses. All of these AV and IT problems cause you great headaches, Here are three simple things you can do to avoid this problem:

  • Have certified AV technicians onsite to maintain and manage your configuration.
    You can rest assured that proper testing will be completed before each presentation; but in the unlikely event that something goes awry, you have immediate access to your support team.
     
  • Understand your bandwidth requirements.
    For access to a series of articles about Wi-Fi, including a checklist and estimator, go to this website: http://computerrentals.com/articles
     
  • Communicate with all your partners. 
    At a typical meeting or event, attendees, speakers, exhibitors and sponsors bring their own set of equipment – in addition to what interactive technology tool rentals you will have. Sometimes the devices your stakeholders bring conflicts with what you rent or the venue provides. Ask and understand. 

SmartSource Rentals is a national total technology firm based in New York. 

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