3. Meeting space: Such items as space charges, room locations, set-up fees, price structures, A/V equipment and labor, the receiving and storage of supplies, pads, pencils, candy, refresh/clean-up schedule, security and electrical service are all possibly billable, but are also negotiable.
4. Miscellaneous: Other items you may wish to consider are turn-down service, parking, amenities, collateral to promote attendance, signage, local phone calls, newspapers, copying and fax service charges, airport shuttle service, early payment of your master account for a discount, and multiyear contracts.
5. Get educated
There are many resources and publications available to help the meeting planner.
A. Professional religious associations:
**RCMA (Religious Conference Management Association) is a professional nonprofit, interfaith organization of men and women who have responsibility for planning and/or managing meetings for religious organizations as well as those who provide service within this specialized field. Founded in 1972, RCMA is dedicated to enhancing the professionalism of its members and to improving the experience of religious meeting attendees throughout the world.
For more information about RCMA, contact DeWayne Woodring, One RCA Dome, Ste. 120, Indianapolis, IN, 46225; phone (317) 632-1888; fax (317) 632-7909; www.rcmaweb.org.
**CMCA (Christian Meetings and Conventions Association) is an organization dedicated to bringing Christian meeting professionals together with suppliers. In addition to establishing professional relationships, the organization has a distinctive focus on Christian fellowship and outreach.
B. Industry publications/ resources:
**MeetingsNet: Log on to their Web site at www.meetingsnet.com.
** Convene: www.pcma.org
**EventWeb newsletter: www.eventweb.com
**Meeting News: Log on to www.meetingnews.com.
**Event Security: www.eventsecurity.com.
C. Consult the experts: If all of this seems daunting and overwhelming, there is an alternative that can help to "fast track" the decision-making process. There are a number of companies, such as Arrowhead Conferences and Events (a wholly owned subsidiary of Campus Crusade for Christ and the largest not-for-profit meeting-planning company in the world) that specialize in working with religious organizations and ministries of all sizes to locate just the right location and site, and to assist and negotiate the contract on their behalf.
All of their years of experience in this field combined with invaluable contacts in the industry and the clout of booking more than 150,000 room-nights per year for clients is available to you and your organization at no cost--the commission they ultimately receive is paid by the host hotel. The room rates they are able to negotiate are usually substantially lower than can be obtained by any individual or organization because of the large volume of bookings they negotiate each year at a wide variety of properties.
In most cases, even considering the commission being paid to them by the hotel, the net cost to you and your constituency is still lower than if you tried to negotiate the agreements yourself. In addition, they are often able to negotiate substantial (and valuable) perks or concessions that are important to you as part of the overall package, in addition to lowering or eliminating the cost of associated meeting space when more space is needed than is normally allowed by the number of sleeping rooms booked.
An added benefit to using a company such as this is having a professional thoroughly review the contract before you sign to make sure that you and your organization have minimal legal exposure and maximum protection in the event of plan changes or sizeable attrition you had not anticipated. Though these companies don't normally provide on-site management assistance for the event itself, the assistance they do provide in securing the needed facilities at a reasonable cost can free up you and your team to concentrate on the program elements and related details of the event to assure it meets your expectations and goals.
The bottom line is a successful, well-attended and well-run meeting or event and one at which all of your goals are reached and expectations met or exceeded.
The way an event is run behind the scenes makes all the difference in the world in the attendees' experiences and receptivity. And when the event has spiritual implications, the importance of a well-planned and well-run meeting is all the more crucial.