TravelBy Lori Gershaw and Tammy Penkalski

“What? You want me to plan 100 pharmaceutical dinner meetings, and it’s a nationwide satellite broadcast which means all of them will occur simultaneously on one night, and you’re giving me only 12 weeks to do it? Are you crazy??” Well, that’s pretty commonplace in the pharmaceutical dinner meeting industry so here’s a meeting planning checklist to get you started.

Three Months Prior
• Determine cities that meetings will be held.
• Research venues for each city. (Dinner meetings typically occur in private dining rooms of upscale restaurants. To cover a lot of ground quickly, you may consider contacting a nationwide restaurant company to confirm several with one call. Be sure to let them know you will be using satellite.)
• Send RFP to venues.
• Secure a company to provide the satellite for each location. (There are companies that are set up to provide these services in multiple locations across the country.)
• Begin development of invitation and other attendee recruitment initiatives.
• Develop design for signage and other printed materials.

Two Months Prior
• Select venues and confirm dates
• Send invitation to print
• Send signage to print
• Post invitation on website if applicable
• Obtain mailing lists for all the meetings
• Make menu selection for each venue
• Arrange for Satellite and Audio Visual Equipment (I suggest contacting a company that offers one-stop shopping for satellite and A/V equipment nationwide. Using the in-house equipment may or may not save a few dollars, but going with one company across the board will provide consistency and peace of mind.)
• Follow your company’s guidelines to ensure that you are in compliance with the Sunshine Act.

One Month Prior
• Send out invitations
• Order On-Site Managers for each location (Full disclosure: GCG Event Partners is a nationwide network of On-Site Managers and can help you out with this.)
• Send presentation materials i.e., handouts and evaluations to print

Three Weeks Prior
• Begin confirming pre-registrants
• Prepare On-Site Managers’ Instructions

Two Weeks Prior
• Continue confirming pre-registrants
• If attendance is low, conduct additional recruitment

One Week Prior
• Ship meeting materials to the venue (a meeting checklist is helpful in ensuring that all materials have been sent. Be sure to include a pre-paid postage label so that you can track the return shipment.)
• Arrange for a conference call with On-Site Managers

Four Days Prior
• Provide final guarantee to the venues
• Conduct conference call with all On-Site Managers simultaneously
• Provide reminder calls or e-mails to registered attendees

One Day Prior
• Update Sign-In Sheets (if necessary) and email to On-Site Managers

Following the Satellite Broadcast
• Receive materials returned from the meeting
• Reconcile attendance
• Compile evaluation summaries
• Reconcile invoices

And there you have it! Easy as pie! Good luck, we wish you much success and smooth sailing! If you have any tips for someone planning multi-site programs or satellite broadcasts, please add them to the comments section below.

 

Lori Gershaw started her career in the event industry in 1989 as an Independent Meeting Planner and grew her business into a full-service meeting planning company.   In 2003 she founded her second company, GCG Event Partners, a nationwide network of Independent Meeting Planners and On-Site Meeting Managers.

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