Good Things…

By Lain Ehmann

More and more meeting planners and sales managers are discovering what diamond lovers knew all along – good things do come in small packages. Smaller sales meetings have several benefits, such as lower overhead, higher productivity and easier logistics. When your little 50-person seminar is competing for space and service providers with a mega-convention of thousands, however, you have to be wily. Here are some tips to help get your small meeting off the ground.

1. Plan ahead. While small usually means easier, many of your decisions will be the same whether you’re planning a banquet for 500 or an intimate cocktail reception for 20. Don’t leave decisions to the last minute, thinking you have plenty of time because your group is smaller.

2. Make your business more desirable to hotels. Small groups can be less appealing to hotels because they take up space but don’t necessarily bring in a lot of cash. Brad Weaber, CMP, suggests in Convene Magazine that planners ask hotel staff if they have a specific date they need to fill. He also recommends leveraging other meeting business. Use the small meeting as a way to evaluate the hotel as a site for a larger meeting or convention. “Hotels generally are more willing to accommodate a small meeting if there’s a chance at subsequently booking a big one,” he explains.

3. Get it together. Think about combining your meeting with one from another department in your company to increase your buying and negotiating power. Holding simultaneous meetings also is a great way to get to know your coworkers, particularly if you plan a few joint activities. Just make sure your team members are not heading for the golf course while the stiffs in finance are sitting through another lecture on accounting ethics.

4. Look outside the big city. According to MeetingNews, many smaller meetings are moving outside urban business hotels, looking instead at conference centers, resorts and boutique hotels. Veer away from your old chain standbys and look at smaller properties for a unique, fresh venue.

5. Don’t skimp on the details. Just because your meeting is smaller doesn’t mean you can get away with cutting corners. Attendees have the right to expect the same level of professionalism you’d show for a larger production. That means sending out information in a timely, professional manner, creating an agenda and paying attention to all the little extras such as coffee service, proper room set-up and audiovisual equipment.