Mulligan Management Group, LLC

Concrete Actions Steps to Planning a SMART Meeting

Without a doubt, meeting planners are one of the busiest professionals I know. They have to manage the logistics, as well as, all the attendees, speakers, sponsors and VIP needs. They need to be involved in contract talks, management meetings and site visits.

But…busyness doesn’t necessarily reflect a great, productive meeting. Attention to details doesn’t mean anything if the event doesn’t drive attendee and sponsorship participation.

So, what should you do?  Let’s start way, way back at the beginning of the meeting planning process.


Work Smarter, Not Harder


Why Have the Meeting in the First Place?


This might seem like an intuitive answer, but it really is not. Just because you have had 50 annual conferences, doesn’t mean you need the 51st one. Really drill down as to the purpose of the meeting and make certain you are drawing all your potential attendees: face-to-face, virtual and webcasts after the event.


Establish SMART Objectives


Once you have your overarching reason for holding the event, work toward the following measurement metric:

Specific: What do you want to accomplish? Have 500 attendees? Raise $50,000? Introduce a new product or service to your audience? Whatever it is, write it out.

Measurable: How will you measure your success? The above goals are fairly specific, but the last one might need some work. Perhaps a measurable objective would be to garner 15 orders for the new product.

Attainable: Don’t set yourself up for failure by creating unattainable goals. If you have had 400 attendees in the past, going to 1,000 could be a real stretch. Work toward modest improvements.

Realistic: Again, it is great to brainstorm and create new ideas, but you need to be realistic to your organizational limits and most importantly your budget.

Timely: With time, come challenges. If you set up your goals too early, there might be a technological or organizational change that will make your objectives obsolete. Keep looking at them throughout the course of your planning and make certain they fit from a timing standpoint.

Now Focus on Your Target


Once you know the true purpose of your conference and have set up your measurement system, now it is time to focus on your potential attendees.

Remember the following algorithm:

  • 25% of your attendees will always say YES (loyal, past participants)
  • 25% will always say NO (might not be the same group of invitees, something is keeping them from going) and
  • 50% need to be convinced your conference is right for them.

So, if your goal is 500 attendees, don’t invite 500 expecting them all to say yes; expand that list to 625+. And make certain you have the RIGHT group of potential attendees – the ones that have a true interest in your organization and/or conference message.

Research also states that attendees come to conferences for two reasons: 1) to learn something new and 2) to network with like-minded professionals.


Smart Technology can help


When it comes to measuring goals and objectives, look to technology to ease your burden. For example:

  • RFID or NFC devices can help track attendee data and attendee movement through geofencing;
  • Mobile apps can help with polling, note taking and gamification;
  • Social media monitoring can help you answer questions and complaints on a real-time basis and
  • Tablets can act as portable kiosks for exhibitors to display videos, photos and presentations about their products.


About Kalahari Resorts & Conventions


With three locations to serve your meeting needs – Wisconsin Dells, Sandusky and soon to be opened Pocono Mountains, Kalahari has a state-of-the-art infrastructure to support your meeting needs. Please contact us to learn more about how we can serve you!

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