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Outsourcing Meeting and Event Planning – Part 2

7. It’s not always possible to meet someone in person, especially if your program is out of town. However, depending on the budget and importance of your event, this is a very important step. And it’s a step that should be investeigated prior to narrowing your selected planner.

Keep in mind, the most highly experienced planner may not always be the best hire. There’s something about building a rapport with someone, looking at them eye to eye, and listening to their ideas. If not in person, at least talk with them via Skype, Google Hangout or Facetime. You’ll gain a sense for someone’s passion and professionalism this way, too.8. Check references on your event planners.

8. It’s not good enough to go on your gut instinct, the advice of your friends, or even colleagues and coworkers. This is your event, and your name and your reputation will be associated with it.

Of course, you will ask for names of clients who have worked with the planner before. And you’re likely to get favorable contacts. But do more digging. Ask the event planner to talk about where they’ve held events before, and check those sources. Read information about their business. Find your own references to check.

9. Narrow event and meeting planners to one and listen to their ideas.

Based on your goals and ideas, a good event planner will present you with a plan that will help achieve your theme — and probably make them better. If it’s a private evening and dinner for an intimate group of people, the planner should come to you with ideas that includes many of the details for your program.

10. At this point, the event planner should present you with ideas that will make you feel like they’ve taken your budget and doubled its value for you. This should be apparent in the way they pitch their vision for your event.10.  Those ideas will come at a price, and it’s important for you to ask them to disclose all of their costs and potential sources of how their fee will be covered  Event Planner Fees will vary from planner to planner or event company to event company. Ask them to disclose their terms and all fees up front. Do they charge by the hour? Will they receive any commissions from the venue directly or indirectly? Do they accept a percentage of a sale from the venue? Will you be paying them directly or the event venue and other services?

Notice that the selection is not based on budget, but on your rapport with the planner or planning company. If this is the right person or company, the budget will also be right.

This portion of your vendor client relationship is the start of something wonderful. You develop rapport, you become strategic partners and the planner company is part of your team.

This is not to say that your are left out, definitely not, but you have someone that you can count on to have good ideas, work their very best for your meeting. As they say, “they’ve got your back”

I know that sometimes one is reluctant to outsource the planning or management, as you want everything to be perfect. Well, if, from the get go, you make the outsourced planner part of a team, not just a vendor selling printer toner,  you will have the most wonderful experience imaginable.

The planner won’t have to guess as you will be communicating. The planner knows your objectives,  knows the culture of your association, knows the budget guidelines and boundaries.

It’s, as they say, a “win-win”. Just think, you’ll have a well planned and managed meeting and you will be able to do the rest of your job while someone else is handling  the rest of those  important details.

11. Negotiate terms, and review the fine print.

Depending on the nature of your event, you will be asked to provide deposits, etc., to the event planner and the event venues/services they offer. This is a perfectly acceptable way of handling business, but the best advice at this point is to seek professional advice and never sign a contract that hasn’t been reviewed by your own legal counsel — especially when dealing with private individuals who may not have the same resources of a large firm.

12 Work closely with your event or meeting planner and confirm details.

Having the outsourced planner doesn’t leave you without any responsibility. Assuming that from the beginning you made sure to develop that teamwork attitude you should have been in consistent communication so the planner has been working well for you.

Most bad event planning  stories that happen  are usually a result of lack of follow through. And lack of good communication.

(More about working with your outsourced planner and other vendors in our next blog)