What to Ask When Selecting an Event Planner - Part 3

Do you think that a Conference or Event planner is a luxury?  Think again!  Did you know that if the planner is any good they should deliver cost savings that are enough to pay their management fee plus some?  You don’t know what you don’t know until you ask! Or, until someone that cares about the success of your next Conference or Event tells you!

Each week for the next 7 weeks, we’ll share the Top Seven questions to ask to get more of what you want out of future meetings, events, and conferences:

 3. How can a Corporate Event Planner help to save you money?

The independent conference and meeting planning industry offers a host of pricing options – “no cost” or “complementary” site selection, hourly rates, fixed fees and percentage fees based on the total bill. There are also hotel commissions, negotiated discounts, and other vendor rebates, and bonuses for independent planners that you may not have access to or even know about, until now! All of these moving pieces make it tough to calculate the bottom line and make an apples-to-apples comparison when hiring an independent meeting planner who is also your strategic partner. Some people who are planning Conferences or Events are often are unaware of their ability to earn back a piece of the commissions and discounts given to planners and this is where they can lose big dollars. Here are some tips to make the most of your budget when selecting an event planner.

  • Some Conference and Meeting Event Planners don’t charge for their housing services and may also provide a revenue share of up to 10% of their hotel and vendor commissions to their clients. This revenue called revenue share offsets and often completely covers the Planner’s fees, especially for larger events.   These are the types of Conference and Event Planners that you want to search for and they are also the type that you want to work with. A revenue share can really make a difference in the long run and it is definitely something that you should be asking your Conference Meeting Planner about.
  • You should also ask for sample contracts and compare fees. Some Conference Planners clearly state how commissions and discounts are handled, while others ignore the subject altogether.  A good Conference and Event Planner should be willing to discuss all costs up front, including commissions and discounts.
  • In addition to comparing fees, consider the range of services offered. Does the Conference planner simply book a site and choose meals? Or do they negotiate contracts, manage budgets, select vendors, provide onsite staff, set up registration, manage your offsite events and provide post evaluation reports and statistics?
  • A good planner will research hotels, negotiate rates, provide personnel onsite, and even coordinate activities.  A firm that manages multiple events a year may have much greater leverage and powerful negotiation skills than someone that plans just a few events a year. Also consider the level of personal service the Conference planner will provide, and ask for references!

Once you hire a planner, be sure to request a detailed timeline and budget. And remember, a planning firm has the greatest influence on the final bill when you involve them early in your negotiations and financial issues. It’s much more difficult to change a contract that was signed months or even years ago.

We’ll share the next question in the series next week, so stay tuned! Coast to Coast Conferences & Events brings you strategic, cost-efficient, end-to-end event and conference planning, offering the latest in innovative event technologies, detailed logistics management, destination services, and hotel housing solutions. We always get the job done and we always do it right; reach out today if you’d like to know more:


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