November 21, 2019
By Cvent

You have been tasked with planning your organization’s next big meeting, conference or convention, and the stakeholders in your company have asked you to consider unfamiliar destinations and hotels. They have asked you to “shake it up” and basically start the planning process from scratch. This event planner checklist will help you do just that. Whether this is your first conference or your 40th, this event planner checklist will help you along the way. It will teach you about the elements of choosing the perfect destination and venue, which includes writing a responsive RFP, analyzing the results, looking at other considerations the RFP may not have addressed (including a site visit) and negotiating a “win-win” for both parties.

Choosing the Perfect Destination

  • Match your destination with your attendee needs 
  • Break down the budget by what your attendees and your organization will pay
  • Determine the types of hotels and meeting space that match your needs and budget
  • Answer the questions in this chapter about destination appeal
  • Look hard at transportation options

Finding the Perfect Destination

  • Look at meeting objections and requirements:

    • What are the goals?
    • What is the attendee’s style?
    • What about meeting space, audio/visual & food?
  • Review your past survey results and meeting history
  • Look and ask for help in the following areas:
    • The local Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB)
    • The Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) Blog
    • Convention Industry Council, APEX templates
    • Meeting Professionals International (MPI) community directory
    • American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) models and samples
    • Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) meetings & exhibits strategy
    • LinkedIn groups
    • Cvent Supplier Network
    • EliteMeetings.com

Writing the Perfect RFP

  • Tell your organization and event story
  • Define your event’s purpose
  • Give a very detailed event profile
  • Be sure to include your trade show information
  • Share budget guidelines
  • Provide a deadline
  • Use templates and online resources:
    • CIC and APEX offer free templates
    • Cvent Supplier Network
  • Be available for questions and clarifications

Evaluating Hotel Proposals

  • Create an assessment criteria spreadsheet
  • Spend time evaluating qualitative factors
  • Deep dive into the meeting room configurations
  • Determine if a long-term relationship with the venue staff matters or not
  • Seek out word-of-mouth recommendations from other planners

Making the Most of Your Site Visit

  • Review your findings with key stakeholders
  • Schedule site inspections and stay overnight
  • When you arrive, make certain you validate and answer questions regarding transportation, food choices, taxes and attractions
  • When site visits are complete, type up your notes, call another meeting and rank order venues

Negotiating with Hotels

  • Give them a total economic value overview of your meeting
  • Negotiate better room block termsBe creative with food and beverage (F&B) options
  • Link meeting space to sleeping rooms and/or F&B
  • Understand your technology options and work toward free Wi-Fi
  • Get everything you negotiate in writing
  • Read and re-read your contract several times, ask others to read it for clarity
  • Review with your in-house attorney if questions or issues still abound
  • Sign the contract

Conclusion

Hopefully, this event planner checklist will help you in all your future venue planning ventures. The next time you need to find a new venue, refer back to this list to make the process as painless as possible. 

Want more? Check out our resources on venue sourcing and event planning. 

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