What Could Possibly Go Wrong? Tips From GCG’s On-Site Managers

Helpful Tips

Written by Tracey Daly

February 18, 2014

Don't go down that roadAn issue-free meeting is one of those mythical creatures that every Meeting Planner has heard of, but no one has ever been lucky enough to see. There is normally and undoubtedly, something that is going to be brought to your attention that you were not expecting. But that’s O.K., because a good Meeting Planner or On-Site Manager knows exactly what to do in these cases, right?

I have asked some of the On-Site Managers in our network to share some of their experiences and tips in order for us to learn from each other.
There are a few things you can do before the meeting starts to ensure the likelihood of minimal speed bumps throughout the event:

Client Specs: Read through the specs for any obvious holes that need to be filled or changes that should be made. In fact, you should read all information that has been given to you by the client; you don’t want to miss something that was right in front of you.
Vendors: Write down a list of any vendors the client is using and try to find a contact with that company. Make sure you ask for mobile telephone numbers so you can reach them instantly.
Get to know the venue: Ask a few questions. Be aware of whom to go to in case the temperature needs to be adjusted, or you need an extra laptop, chair or table.
Locate wall outlets: This is much easier to do before the lights go down, in case a laptop or other device is running low on battery.
Flash Drive: This sounds like a no-brainer, but the one time you don’t carry an empty flash drive is the one time you’re going to need it. Always make sure you have extras.
Alternate Meeting Space: Check to see if there is a second room or backup plan for where the meeting can be held. This sounds a bit dramatic, but anyone who plans meetings knows that absolutely anything is possible. Although rare, leaky rooms have been known to happen.
Shut-off Plan: If the event is serving alcohol, be sure to continuously survey the room for anyone who may have had too much to drink. Most people will take a polite hint to quiet down, but in the case that they become problematic, you might have to step in. Make sure you have a well thought out plan of how to approach the subject. If you are worried they are not taking you seriously, ask the staff at the venue to politely ask the individual to take it down a notch. If the person continues to be a problem, they should be asked to leave. Make sure you call them a cab, or ask if there is anyone you can call for a ride.

Although some of these situations are extreme and rare, they do happen, so it’s always good to have a plan. Always, always remember to remain calm. When people are calm, they can think straight and find a solution.

I’m sure these tips from our On-Site Managers brought back some memories. Please feel free to comment and tell us your tips for planning an issue-free meeting.

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  1. Frank

    If you are going to use ANY kind of communications at the venue here are a few things to consider:
    A) Which cell carriers provide coverage at the venue? How good is the coverage? Remember that today many venues will cater to one of the major carriers by granting them access at the site. This will allow their subscribers to have coverage but users of other service providers will have poor to none.
    B) Does the in house A/V offer communications. Most large venues have an in house A/V service that can either obtain communications or can provide a contact name and number of a company that has knowledge of the venue.
    C) Before your event starts get some demo equipment and do testing at the venue to make sure the coverage will be what you expect.Otherwise, You will not have an opportunity to use plan B.

  2. Glenn Cherrits

    Everyone will have a walk through (right?)

    It would be even more careful to simulate the whole attendee experience from arriving by car (or whatever) to leaving. You could do it at the right times and day-of-week. You might see a little sign that says there’s a Taiko drum school that practices every 4th Saturday morning, across from your putting seminar on an upcoming 4th Saturday morning. 🙂

  3. Bruno Marx

    Being prepared will keep you calm. One of my favourite examples is floor plans. Imagine setting up according to the floor plan you were given. Then finding out only 850 of the 1000 attendees will fit into the room. Floor plans are almost never correct. Either they are outdated or plain wrong. Just have a tape measure with you during site inspection and compare actual measurements to the floor plan you were given. That will save you some nerves!

  4. Jim Warren

    When an event will include PP presentations and such, I always want to receive the PPP at least a day or two ahead of time when possible to insure there are no AV issues/compatibility problems at the actual event. For example, many folks forget to embed their sound files into the presentation and “leave it” on their office computer. When they do their dry-run (hopefully), they panic and tell me THE SOUND DOESN”T WORK!. I advise all participants in advance of this fact. By offering to “pre-load their PPP on our laptop, it is seen as one less thing that they have to worry about, as well.


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