How to Plan an Effective Pre-Conference (Pre-Con) Meeting

 
 

Joe Cappuzzello
Published November 16, 2017

A pre-con (pre-conference) is a meeting that takes place with stakeholders usually the day before the event. The meeting planner and organization responsible for the event/conference request that the hotel convention service manager, hotel general manager, all department heads, event destination personnel, security, audio visual personnel, the host destination organization and any independent contractors to be in attendance.

An agenda is prepared before the pre-con by the convention service manager at the host property and is reviewed by the meeting planner and operations manager prior to the pre-con. The convention service manager leads the meeting that includes introductions, conference highlights, and department head responsibilities including meeting space, guest rooming lists and banquet event orders.

It is a good idea for the meeting planner or a member of the organization doing the event to provide an overview, objectives and goals that are to be accomplished. The message is important to all in attendance and is imperative that these department heads convey this message to their staffs that will directly interact with the participants of the event. The tone of the event starts when people arrive to the meeting destination and how they are initially treated is an important first step for the success of your event.

Department heads will review their area of responsibilities and their understanding of the event. This is the time the meeting planner needs to ask specific questions about standard procedures, staffing and timeline for each area. It is important to have all key contact information; including cell phones for the decision makers. Once reports are given by each person, those individuals not pertaining to the banquet event orders or event space will usually leave the meeting and then a more detail discussion takes place for the food and beverage events with the catering manager.

The pre-con meeting for conferences have begun to change in the last few years for our organization. In the past we would request a pre-con meeting the day before the event with the appropriate stakeholders. All would be fine if there were not any major changes that were discovered during the pre-con, but with less than 24 hours before the beginning of the event, little could be done to fix any significant problems.

Recently, we have begun a “pre” pre-con meeting two to three weeks before the date of the event with the hotel event services manager, host destination service manager and audio-visual personnel to review the event resume in detail by phone. This meeting has identified any significant problems and provides the time to make any necessary changes. We then still have our pre-con meeting the day before the event that is now much shorter and concise, usually with far fewer surprises.

Please take the time to plan out your pre-con meeting. It is important for all involved to understand your expectations and what is required for a successful event.

Joe Cappuzzello is responsible for locating host cities for the annual Small Market Meetings Conference, as well as for Select Traveler, African American Travel, Going on Faith and Boomers in Groups travel conferences. He is the president and CEO for each of these organizations. He can be reached at 330-337-1027 or at jcappuzzello@grouptravelfamily.com.