Ask anyone who has ever successfully planned for a meeting and they'll likely tell you that they've had their share of mishaps in the past. While valuable lessons can be learned from our past misadventures when it comes to event preparation, ideally it would be better if we could avoid them altogether, especially because there's so much at stake. Take a look at the most common conference planning mistakes and more importantly how to avoid making them.
Allocate Sufficient Resources
Meeting planners often don't realize how much of an impact insufficient resources can have on their conference planning. Whether we're talking about money or people, lack of adequate preparation with regards to resources can have a significant impact on whatever you're setting up for. Take the necessary time to work up an itemized list of costs associated well in advance in order to avoid any potential issues with funding. The same is true about staffing. Be sure to hire enough staff and place them in the positions where they'll be most beneficial, or you may be forced to pull double duty at some point.
Have A Contingency Plan
If you've ever been involved in conference planning before, then you've likely heard someone mention Murphy's Law. It essentially states that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. The good news is you can prepare for certain foreseeable problems, which then can help you avoid them altogether. For example, if your meeting will be held outside be sure to check the weather forecasts in advance of the event, but you could also purchase tents to have on standby as well. Having a backup plan will drastically decrease your stress on the day of and during the meeting.
Follow Up After the Conference
Many coordinators often think that they're work is done once the meeting has ended, but the truth is there is still more to be done. This is especially true for those who anticipate conference planning again in the future. Be sure to distribute feedback cards, surveys as well as make personal or telephone contact with the group that you organized the event for. What they have to say can be used to help you be a better planner, so don't pass up the opportunity to tap that resource for information. Don't forget, doing so can also facilitate a good rapport that could lead to more business.
Learn From Past Mishaps
Perhaps the biggest mishap of all in conference planning is that the coordinators don't learn from past mistakes. A word to the wise is to take stock of the pros and cons from previous events. The pros are good for helping to know what you're doing right, but the cons are instrumental in helping you to improve. If you didn't have enough food for a prior meeting, implement a strategy to buy more than enough food per person in the future.