FAQs about meetings

How do you define the purpose of having a meeting?

There are various reasons to hold a meeting. It always essentially revolves around delivering an important message to a group of people. Even a Recognition event, like a Circle of Success meeting, is sending the message: “Here is a reward for your hard work and exceptional job performance.” But each company, according to the environment of their business, will have their own unique message to deliver.

What do you mean by type of meetings? How many types are there?

There are several types of meeting. By determining the purpose of your meeting usually identifies which type of meeting it will be. For instance, if the meeting is for the national sales managers who meet twice a year, that could be called a POA meeting (Plan of Action) where they learn from leadership which direction they are going and how they are to implement the action.

An Advisory Board meeting will be smaller (average 10 – 20 people) who gather in one room to review issues that need to be resolved.

Each industry will hold their meetings according to the compliance requirements under which they exist. For instance, a Pharmaceutical company has many Healthcare Professional (HCP) Guidelines that they must comply according to FDA Regulations. Other companies do not need to know about such requirements, but have their own regulations to abide by.

Here is a list of a several different types of meetings. They help determine the style and the focus of the meeting. The meeting planner should be familiar with what the expectations would be for each particular type of meeting:

  • Product Launch Meeting
  • Investigator Meeting
  • Plan of Action Meeting
  • Medical Meeting
  • Training Meeting
  • Team Building
  • Incentive Meeting
  • Continuing Education Certifications (CE, CEU)
  • Train the Trainer
  • Advisory Board Meeting
  • Road Shows
  • Stand Alone Meetings (SAMs)
  • Seminars and Symposia

Why do we need a meeting planner?

Once the purpose of a meeting is defined, the next step is to determine how the message is to be delivered to the group attending. That sets the criteria or what the Scope of the Meeting is and it is the meeting planner’s job to make sure all decisions and arrangements made are set within that scope.

There are many aspects to the planning. Here are selected areas of responsibility that fall under Meeting Program Management:

  • Sourcing Hotel properties
  • Contracting Hotels
  • Logistics
  • Communications
  • Program Scheduling
  • Registration and Attendee management
  • Hotel Room Blocks and Attrition
  • Meeting Room Set Ups
  • Audio Visual and Staging
  • Onsite management
  • Third Party Vendor contracting
  • Budget
  • Hotel Master Account
  • Food & Beverage
  • Ground Transportation
  • Security
  • Signage
  • Decor

Will there be any off site activities (away from the Hotel) like a Dine Around, Fun at a Theme Park, Museum, Sporting Event?

How do I get a good Hotel Room Rate and why do the Rates keep changing?

The rates are mostly based on “what the market will bear” but other reasons also factor in. First, if you are not representing a Group and you ask for a Room Rate, you will be told the daily “Rack Rate”, which is quoted to people who do not have a negotiated rate or a Friends and Family discounts.

When selecting a property, the time of year is key. Every property has seasonal rates that reflect their slow period or busy period. If you can book a meeting during the hotels slower period you will get a better rate (e.g. Arizona in July, most anywhere during Christmas week). Also, learn if the hotel is busier or slower on the weekends or weekdays and adjust the dates of your meeting accordingly.

If you are representing a Group that needs a large room block, that is leverage for you to use during the negotiating period. If you do a lot of meetings in a year with the same Hotel chain, it may be advisable to negotiate a standing contract with the National Sales Office with preferred concessions already built into the frame of the agreement.

What is Strategic Meeting Management (SMM)?

By industry standards the definition of Strategic Meeting Management is:

“Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) is a disciplined approach to managing enterprise-wide meeting and event activities, processes, suppliers and data in order to achieve measurable business objectives that align with an organizations’ strategic goals/vision, and delivers value in the form of quantitative savings, risk mitigation, and service quality.”

Simply put, it is an “accountability and value” business model that is now commonly being implemented. Meeting Planners are now required to have a much more hands on approach to managing all key financial components to what makes up a meeting. Some key components are listed here:

  • Reassess senior management meeting and event vision, goals and objectives
  • Identify enterprise wide meeting and event planners, administrators and stakeholders (and their meeting activity / processes / goals / skill sets)
  • Meeting needs assessment / meeting approval process / master meeting and event calendar
  • Hotel site search / evaluation / value based negotiations process
  • Custom hotel contract process (addresses all hotel contract components, value added concessions, hotel fees and surcharges, performance clauses and legal department liability language)
  • Meeting and event planning processes, procedures, attendee communications / learning, on-site meeting management
  • Preferred Supplier Program (services, pricing, evaluation, agreements, SMM outcomes)
  • Hotel / supplier deposit and payment process / reconciliation
  • Meeting budgets / variance (by meeting)
  • Transparent metrics to define and measure success (standard and custom financial reports, including cost savings / risk reduction report, by meeting and enterprise wide spend breakdown).
  • SMM implementation / compliance / training / collaboration / stakeholder feedback
  • Post meeting evaluation / learner outcomes / meeting value (ROI / ROE)
  • Robust technology that drives SMM (24/7 access to current / past meeting activity / management and financial reports)


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