Executing a trade show or an annual conference is a lot of work and costs a lot of money. Probably the best way to save cash and time is to keep the planning in-house, right?

overwhelmed employee

Wrong. Organizations often turn to staff to plan their events, assuming it will make the process efficient and cost-effective. If the designated employee isn’t a meeting planner by trade, planning for success can be a challenge. In-house staff members have multiple duties they must attend to, making planning the meeting just one more task to check off.  They also tend to lack professional training as meeting planners. This matters, because a successful meeting requires much more than finding rooms with the right capacity and a good A/V provider.

Hiring a third-party planner is often the way to accomplish the efficient and effective objectives – while putting on a memorable meeting. Here are the top reasons why hiring a third-party meeting planner could make your meeting its most outstanding yet.


  • Fresh ideas/perspective: A third-party planner doesn’t know your organization inside and out, and that can be a very good thing. Too often, meeting planning goes on autopilot, with the same venue and same format year after year, and little strategic thinking or reflection. An outside meeting planner will want to drill down on your goals and aspirations for the meeting, understand what has worked well and what hasn’t, and will generate fresh ideas that can excite your attendees.


  • Efficiency: A third-party planner functions as the conduit for all information between vendors and the organization. The planner will hunt down your best options for everything from centerpieces to seating and present you only with those that meet your needs. These details can often require hours of research and labor from an in-house staff member, while a third-party planner can quickly dispense of them.


  • Knowledge of industry trends: It is a professional planner’s job to stay abreast of the latest and greatest – from apps that ease the conference-going experience to innovative catering ideas sure to wow your guests. Skilled planners belong to industry organizations that provide ongoing education in every facet of meeting planning, and they read publications dedicated solely to their profession. That expertise will be yours to draw on.


  • Training in industry standards: The meetings industry is a data gold mine. Most planners have enough information to analyze everything from typical registration-to-attendee ratios to standard compensation for session speakers. The industry also has developed a set of standards for contract negotiations, meeting timelines and much more. Professional planners earn designations as Certified Meeting Professional or Certified Meetings Manager, which require hours of classroom learning and on-the-job experience, as well as rigorous exams. Their knowledge will help your meeting excel and almost certainly will save you money.


  • Problem solving: Experienced planners have seen plenty of things go wrong. They can steer your organization away from potential blunders, avoiding inefficiency, embarrassment and wasted expense.


  • Industry contact network: A seasoned planner has a deep bench of professional contacts. They know who the best vendors are and can utilize their relationships to get good deals. They can also turn to those contacts for troubleshooting or suggestions if something unexpected presents itself.


  • Contract negotiations/cost-savings: Professional planners are thoroughly trained in budget management. They know how to save money without sacrificing attendee experience, and their knowledge of contract negotiation (an art form in itself) can help you not only save money but avoid potential pitfalls and legal trouble.


For many organizations, meetings are important sources of revenue, morale and employee development. An investment in a third-party planner is an investment in your organization’s success.