What’s that, you say? You don’t even bother with pre-conference meetings? Well if you’re a professional planner, shame on you, because pre-cons should be the No. 1 starting point for any conference with you at the helm. And, if managed correctly, your pre-con can be the start of something beautiful for you and the hotel/event team throughout the course of your program.
In case you’re not familiar, a pre-con is a meeting held with event vendors and suppliers where the event or program is scheduled to take place. It’s usually held a day or two before the actual event, and is different from the walk-through that happens on the day of an event. Here’s a quick take on what’s involved:
- Gathering the entire leadership team involved with the event.
- Briefly introducing everyone around the table to learn who the players are and their areas of responsibility.
- Reviewing as a group the final details of all aspects of the program from start to finish.
Cést simple, oui? So why avoid this helpful opportunity to get the team together and talk openly about the road ahead? Here are a few of the excuses I heard recently when polling planners who avoid pre-con meetings:
- “Those are just for the hotel team. They don’t need me there to discuss what’s going to happen.” (Yes, you’re right! The hotel team has no need to meet you in person or see what you look like! I’m sure you won’t be running in to any of them during your program.)
- “My travel plans are too tight. I have to go immediately into my staff office when I get on-site and start [fill in the blank].” (Like you can’t delegate stuffing name badges or check your emails later?)
- “A pre-con is usually just a formality. I like to meet with my convention service/front desk/catering/transportation manager one-on-one to cover everything.” (Really? You’ve got time for all those individual meetings but not one convenient combined effort?)
- “I don’t like being the center of attention at those things. I’m just there to run my meeting.” (Yes, there’s no spotlight shining on you then, is there?)
If those don’t ring a bell, I have one more. Often the most honest answer is this: Planners are so stressed by the time they get on-site and still struggling to fill unanswered questions about meeting details, so they’re embarrassed to meet the venue team. There. I said it.
Meeting planners are famous for showing up without doing their due diligence, and then suddenly realizing how mortifying it would be to face the entire team that has been desperately trying to schedule staff, order menu items, reserve suites and get final room diagrams to the setup crews in a timely fashion. If you’re wearing the necklace of shame, well, it’s time to change your ways!
Savvy planners know that scheduling a pre-con is in everyone’s best interest. Further, if run correctly, it has the power to make or break the success of so many aspects of the meeting. It’s the final opportunity to discuss with all key players how the details of each and every aspect of your program will play out in the next few days, and if that isn’t worth your time and effort, then maybe you shouldn’t be in the planning business.
Are you in favor of pre-cons or not so much? Please share why in the comment section below.