You can hire conference and event planning companies to coordinate a wide range of events Ė from a basic one-day, 25-person sales meeting with no hotel stays, to an intensive three-day seminar for 300 people featuring training sessions, multiple speakers, high-tech production, and entertainment.

Since preparation is a key component to conference and event planning, make sure to schedule events well in advance. A small event like a product announcement can be pulled off in 30 days, but you may need to plan 90 to 120 days in advance for a full-day management conference. Large companies with significant events sometimes reserve dates as much as 3 to 5 years in advance to secure the top venues and best rates.

One of the key benefits a conference and event planner professional offers is complete logistics management. They begin by researching potential venues for the event based on your needs and budget, visiting the sites, and negotiating rates. If needed, they use their relationships with hotel chains to block off rooms for you and your guests at competitive prices. They also can provide your guests with ground transportation.

Your event planner will also work closely with the event venue to plan the catering. They'll coordinate with the hotel or catering hall to create banquet event orders (BEO), which detail how much food and beverage you need to order.Event planners also provide help with the registration process. An event planner can set up an online portal for invitees to sign up for your event, select individual sessions, reserve hotel rooms, and request additional information. They'll also take registration requests through the mail, over the phone, and in-person at the event. Afterwards, they'll send attendees marketing materials and provide you with detailed reports and contact information.


At first glance, you may think the easy way to plan a corporate event is to seek in-house volunteers, put together an event committee, and let them make the arrangements. While this may be suitable for small, casual events with a few attendees, it wonít work for large-scale functions requiring months of intense preparation.

Simply put, conference and event planning is a full-time job. You shouldn't expect inexperienced staffers to plan a corporate event in addition to their typical job responsibilities.

A quick test to see if you even have the time to plan events in-house is to count on one hour of preparation time for each attendee. To organize for a meeting for 250, youíll need 250 hours of dedicated work time, more than six full weeks. If your staff canít take on that amount of work in addition to their current job functions, itís best to hire an event planner.

Relying on in-house volunteers also means they donít have the know-how to cover every aspect of the event or negotiate for the best rates. While you could use similar tools and software that professional event planners use such as RegOnline or ServiceCEO, you must devote even more valuable time to learning how to use its functionality.

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