With You All the Way

by Sharron Campbell,

Certified Meeting Professional, 30 years experience

Setup guidelines for meetings and events - getting started

Details – Details – Details

Classroom Style 

Detailing your set-up instructions is one of the most important documents that you will prepare as a meeting and event planner.  Your organizational skills and attention to detail will be most critical here and will set you apart from the norm if you are really good at it. 

Finalizing 30-Days in Advance
Contracts for meeting room and function space should already be finalized and signed, securing the space you need for your meeting or event, and vendors and service providers confirmed in writing.  When you reach the 30-day mark prior to the event, it is time to pull together and document every detail for distribution and to finalize tentative agreements already confirmed with vendors and service providers.  Your target date for completion should be no later than 21 days in advance to give your vendors and service providers enough time to place their orders for products and equipment and to schedule the personnel needed to meet your needs.   If you are coordinating a last-minute meeting, the communication needs will still be the same but the time frame will have to be condensed and will probably result in extra charges for rush orders. 

Function Specifications -
The most effective way to communicate to all parties is by distributing a final set of detailed set-up specifications with diagrams for every meeting room and function space you will be using throughout the duration of your program.  Vendors with highly specialized services such as audiovisual will require a separate set of specifications dedicated to their services only, although a profile of the entire program will still be important for them to receive as a cover sheet. 

Vendor and Service Provider Documents -
Vendors and service providers will use your set-up specs as a guideline when creating their own internal documents for distribution to their staff for placing orders and scheduling personnel.  You will receive a copy from them for signature of approval, which may be in the form of an invoice or purchase order or a banquet event order (BEO).  READ THESE DOCUMENTS CAREFULLY.  They are considered an addendum to a contract once you have signed your approval.  Follow-up all verbal corrections or changes in writing and ask for a revised invoice or BEO if time allows.  Last minute changes that are emailed or faxed should be initialed and returned verifying receipt by both parties.

 bluebullet  How to create set-up specifications for staff, service providers, venues and vendors
 bluebullet  Sample diagram of meeting room set-up with function specifications (PDF)
 bluebullet  How to estimate set-up space requirements 
 bluebullet  Seating type illustrations
 bluebullet  About planning and placement of signage and banners
 bluebullet  Go to Food & Beverage Catering Details for related info
 bluebullet  Go to Audiovisual Guidelines  for related info
 bluebullet  View all Planning Helper Topics about meetings, events, social functions