As any planner will tell you, their position is challenging and often requires being available 24/7. And while there is no concrete definition for a “day in the life” of a meeting planner, there are common themes that ring true as the event unfolds.
Following is a glimpse into the duties of planner on-site at the event. It's adapted from the Meeting and Event Planning Playbook: A Quick Reference Guide for Administrative Assistants and Coordinators by Debi Scholar, director, meetings and events, Novartis, and Susan Losurdo, senior independent consultant, SNL Global Meetings and Event Management.
A Planner's Day On-Site at the Meeting
The day starts early and ends late. It’s not uncommon to be checking on rooms, food-and-beverage service and audiovisual as early as 6 a.m. and working as late as 11 p.m. The planner will be the first person to arrive each day and the last person to leave.
Always wear comfortable shoes within dress code and be accessible 24 hours a day via cell and/or walkie-talkie. Problems might happen on-site, but it is up to the meeting planner to keep them invisible to the attendee. Work closely with your hotel, vendor and on-site support teams to provide direction and support
Prior to the event, check the meeting room (setups, test A/V, IT, electrical equipment, room temperature, registration desk, signage, food service, handouts, badges, sign-in sheets, etc.). Check in with speakers/instructors. Review signage, easels and postings of the directions, meeting rooms, etc. Additionally, hotels and event facilities typically post events internally as well as in their common spaces. They might also have electronic “reader boards” that outline all events taking place that day. These reader boards might run on lobby monitors or on guest televisions. Check these hotel postings for accuracy in times, locations, names, etc. There might be private events that you do not want posted.
You will want to work with the banquet captains to continually monitor the buffets and food services. Prior to opening doors and serving, walk through the buffets to make sure they are set up for ease of flow and that all contracted food items are set and labeled. Instruct banquet staff to replenish or close buffets only with your approval.
If your meeting is scheduled to start in 15 minutes, you might instruct banquets to begin clearing and chime attendees into sessions. Consult with the banquet captains to see which items were most and least popular, so that you can adjust your menus/quantities for subsequent days.
Protect the confidentiality of all materials; determine if the materials can be disposed of through the hotel’s process, or if shredders/shred bins are required.
Secure meeting rooms when not in session and especially at day’s end.
Request daily manager-on-duty reports from the hotel. These are records of any issues that have happened to a hotel guest overnight. Upon request, a hotel can provide you this information if it is about an attendee of your conference. If an attendee is injured or ill or files a complaint, you should follow up with the guest/hotel accordingly. Any security issues also need to be addressed and potentially escalated/reported
Request daily in-house, no-show and hotel-occupancy reports. This will help you to monitor attrition, if applicable. Additionally, this will prove useful when trying to locate attendees, speakers, etc. Last but not least, conduct a daily bill review and identify any charges in question.
About the Author: Debi Scholar has over 25 years of leadership and management experience in developing strategy and operations in diverse industries bringing together travel, meetings, digital and virtual, payment solutions and learning and meeting engagement. She works with international stakeholders to build, transform and implement solutions that drive results.