On Target Program Planning Timeline

December 05, 2011

Lisa Borquez

Event Guru

Typical convention and program planning time line for an annual meeting of a large educational group.

6 years
  • Solicit site proposals
  • Establish convention bureau contacts
5 years, 10 months
  • Schedule site inspection trips to review and evaluate facilities
5 years, 6 months
  • Gain board and/or site selection committee for site approval
5 years
  • Convention dates and site finalized
  • Approve and sign contracts
      Negotiate room rates
      Finalize major housing blocks
      Finalize convention center hold
3 years, 6 months
  • Site inspection trip
      Finalize supplemental housing
      Inspect convention facility
      Review hotel public space and rooms
      Initiate supplier contacts and negotiations
3 years
  • Finalize facility/hotel arrangements
  • Update files
      schedule periodic review of files
1 year, 6 months
  • Site inspection trip
      Ascertain city activities, information, maps, etc.
      Inspect hotel public space/rooms
      Review information about convention bureau forms/procedures, temporary help, equipment rental, media contacts, events, support literature, VIP contacts, hospital lists and contract for local labor unions (set-up and A/V)
      Shuttle buses
      Tour/special event company
      Telephone company - message desk/phone equipment
      Decorating company - drayage/equipment
      Auto Rental
      Airline (prime carrier), post-tour
      Local host committee: spouse's program, local VIPs, dining guide
      Local printer
      Duplicating company contact
      Banking arrangements
      Audio/Visual supplier
      Security firm
      Emergency services
      Child care
      Local labor unions (set-up and A/V)
  • Develop budget
1 year, 3 months
  • Submit budget to Finance Committee
1 year
  • Get budget approved by the Board of Directors
  • Appoint Planning Committee
      Set Planning Committee meeting date/location
  • Complete attendance promotion plans
      finalize marketing plan
10 months, 2 weeks
  • Event stationery printed
10 months, 1 week
  • Assemble Planning Committee material; include
      Schedule of events
      synthesizes of program/course evaluations
      Resource materials/contacts
      Philosophy/background information/theme
      Educational program direction/curriculum
      Deadlines/time frames
      Committees/staff performance criteria
10 months
  • Convene Program committee
      complete background materials
  • Select suppliers
      obtain information for show suppliers
  • Draft exhibitor prospectus
9 months, 2 weeks
  • Approve and distribute program committee minutes
  • Develop program topics/formats
9 months
  • Topics/speakers selected
      Setup session/speaker files (names, contact info. and biographies)
      Setup space diary
  • Exhibitors' prospectus printed and mailed
      Setup exhibit files
8 months, 3 weeks
  • Draft invitation letters to speakers
8 months, 2 weeks
  • Confirmation letters sent to all speakers
8 months
  • Begin booth contract processing
  • Draft exhibit services manual
      Obtain order forms from suppliers
7 months, 2 weeks
  • Reminders to speakers concerning dates/contracts
  • Mail first press release to related organizations
7 months
  • Mail exhibitor services manual
  • Assign session rooms/advise speakers
6 months, 2 weeks
  • Order mailing lists and labels
  • Order name badge/inserts
6 months
  • Place advertisements in organization and industry publications
  • Complete social program
      Finalize banquet and hospitality arrangements
5 months, 3 weeks
  • Proofread and amend direct mail brochure
      Review with program chairman
  • Reminders to speakers about course materials
      Begin printing course materials
5 months, 2 weeks
  • Edit page proofs (galleys) of direct mail brochure
  • List on-site needs
  • Registration portfolio bids submitted
5 months, 1 week
  • Review and approve printing of brochure
  • Activate registration system (computer)
      Hire temporary registration clerks
5 months
  • Distribute direct mail brochure
      Print, label and mail brochure
      Mail copies to committees, suppliers, respondents, inquiries and speakers
  • Register individuals
      On-site registration form printed
      Process computer registrations
      Mail confirmations
  • Order convention supplies
      Order registration portfolios and all other supplies
      Order published materials
      Mail request forms to speakers for required A/V equipment and housing
4 months, 3 weeks
  • Commence weekly registration reports
4 months
  • Prepare initial A/V summary
  • Mail direct mail brochure or short reminder
3 months
  • Order printed course materials
      Inventory course materials
  • Send reminders to speakers concerning A/V, set-up requirements and session handouts
2 months, 2 weeks
  • Mail final reminder or brochure
  • Mail awards banquet invitations and tickets
2 months, 1 week
  • Site visit planned
      Make appointments with contractors, facilities, etc.
2 months
  • Mail special invitations
      VIP reception
      Speaker reception
  • Process speaker/staff room reservations
  • Finalize on-site arrangements
      Appointments met
  • Review convention center schedule
  • Review hotel facility scheduling
  • Set menus, timing and entertainment
  • Finalize registration temporaries and equipment
      Draft set-up instructions
  • Hotel schedule and instructions
  • Convention center instructions
  • Decorator instructions
  • Order A/V equipment
  • Order signs
  • Order registration personnel
  • Order flowers
  • Order shuttle bus
  • Final program copy due
  • Carrier ordered and scheduled for shipping materials to convention site
6 weeks
  • Mail final instructions to facilities and suppliers
  • Take program copy to the printer
1 month
  • Decide all on-site staff needs
  • Review final program page proofs
3 weeks
  • Have final program printed for distribution on-site
  • Receive/review supplier's versions of final instructions
2 weeks, 2 days
  • Pack for shipping
  • Carrier picks up convention materials for transportation to site
2 weeks
  • Process on-site staff schedule
      Finalize staff schedules
      Brief staff
5 days
  • Travel to meetings destination
  • Transport last-minute materials
4 days
  • Final walk through meeting facility to confirm details
  • Set-up staff meeting office
3 days
  • Start exhibit setup
2 days
  • Prepare registration materials
1 day
  • Pre-con meeting with facility staff
During the Meeting
  • Conduct/manage the meeting
      Educational programs
      Extracurricular programs
      Social functions
      Business meetings
      Invoice review/gratuities paid
      Post-convention tour under way
      Review of all billing
  • Conduct on-site evaluation
  • Announce date and location of next meeting
1 day post
  • Post-con meeting
2 days post
  • Return home
2 weeks post
  • Send thank you letters
      Speakers, committee and VIP letters
      Suppliers and facility
1 month post
  • Evaluate meeting
      Synthesize subjective remarks
      Print copies of reports for new committee resource workbook
      Review/pay statements from facilities and suppliers
  • Post-convention report
      Send registration computer print-out to exhibitors
2 months post (maximum)
  • Pay all outstanding invoices

Source: Professional Meeting Management, third edition, published by the Professional Convention Management Association