communication

Who, What, When, Where and How

There’s no doubt about it: A great meeting and event planner makes every conference look like it’s a piece of cake. They know the value of a good communication plan and they execute it flawlessly.

Whether you’re a brand new planner or a seasoned one, it’s important to take the time to ensure you’re communicating effectively. We’ve compiled a few of the top-line questions to answer and assist in creating a communication plan. Taking the extra time to work with venue staff, volunteers and presenters makes all the difference, especially when planning a convention.

Here are the five questions that matter:

Who Needs to Be Involved?

While every meeting and event is unique, there are, at a minimum, the following players involved:

  • You and your staff
  • The group sales professional at the venue
  • The catering manager for food and beverage
  • Attendees
  • Speaker(s)
  • A/V and/or IT staff

If your event is large and/or has a trade show component to it, you may have to include:

  • Volunteers
  • Show managers
  • Exhibitors
  • Sponsors
  • The media

What Does an Effective Plan Look Like?

Depending on your level of sophistication and the detail required for each task, you can choose a simple program such as Microsoft Excel or a more sophisticated tool. However, before you start your communication process, determine what tool you will use and how you will communicate effectively to your team.

For example, you can begin with identifying all the tasks that need to be completed, then create a spreadsheet with columns for targeted completion date, task, person responsible and notes. Last, upload the list to Google Drive, where team members can view, comment and check items off the list.

The key is to have a tool that works well for everyone and, if possible, make it a cloud-based program so all edits are completed in one place and in real time.

In addition, as you receive signed documents from speakers, sponsors and the venue, you can upload and share those documents with the team.

In summary, an effective plan has the identified tasks on a cloud platform where everyone on the team can access them from any device, at any time.

When Do You Communicate?

If your event is more than one year away, communicating on a monthly basis via email is recommended.

Once you’re inside a year, communicating once a week via email with a face-to-face (and/or video) meeting with the team once a month should work well. Try to send out the email on the same day and hold your once-a-month meeting at the same time/day.

At six months, hold weekly conference calls. Encourage everyone to be in front of their computer and view the project timeline. Make changes as you’re talking through them; that way, nothing is missed.

Within two weeks of the event, shift to once-a-day checkpoint calls. Review earlier documents from speakers, sponsors and exhibitors to see if anything has changed. Make sure your current timeline is correct and review any unresolved or open items. If all has gone smoothly up until this point, these calls should take 10 to 15 minutes to complete.

With regard to current or prospective attendees, over-communication can be detrimental. Strive for once a month via an email campaign, right up until the moment of the conference.

Where Do You Communicate?

The answer to this question is: It depends on where your team is and how far away they are from you and/or the venue.

If the venue is 1,000 miles away and your team is scattered across the country, you will probably not be able to get everyone together face to face until the day before your meeting.

However, when you go on a site visit, that’s one time you can meet with some of the key individuals on the team. Optimally, however, the once-a-month meetings should take place at your office.

How Do You Know the Communication Plan Worked?

The best way to determine if your communication plan was successful is by measuring what happens during the event. If you’re not tagged with last-minute charges by the A/V or food service staff or there are no misunderstandings between you and your speakers, sponsors or attendees, chances are you communicated very effectively.

One more measure of success is post-event surveys. If attendees, volunteers and exhibitors feel the meeting or trade show was valuable to them, you were definitely on the right path.

Kalahari Resorts and Conventions Is Part of Your Team

Our sales and catering managers have 400+ years of experience and an average tenure of more than eight years, which means you can count on us to deliver on every promise and create a great experience for your team! Contact us today at 855.411.4605 for more information.