To craft a successful corporate meeting, conference or event we first need to consider the purpose, timing and other details: especially, who is attending.
RSVPs — the broad process of determining who is and is not coming, and getting all thendetails that come along with that right — are an integral part of planning.
Our sales staff centralizes liaisons between our various services — catering, J&S Audio Visual, golf and recreation planning staff — so you can focus first on the vision of a successful meeting, who should attend and why, and then execution. Getting the appropriate information and confirmations to plan a successful meeting, keynote, conference, or other event — and the planning process around that — can be quite complex and rely on a number of factors that can influence everything from the outcome to cost.
Pre-confirmation and Cost Control by setting other dates
One area that may offer cost controls is in setting flexible dates for the event once you have a general sense of its purpose. Before you set firm dates or a list of optimal attendees, make some inquiries as to whether there could be some flexibility in dates and scope.
This allows us to best plan your event around high capacity times at the Resort at all of our venues, and may result in significant savings. Shifting from a Thursday – Sunday pattern to a Sunday – Wednesday or other schedule, or moving the dates a week or two away, could reduce costs and complexity.
(If you have yet to consider a timeframe at all, we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that we’re offering significant savings on December – January meetings, conferences and corporate events.)
Alternately, simply make this a can’t-miss event: so luxurious, relaxing, and valuable both personally and professionally that it becomes a high priority. Taking advantage of the golf, leisure and hospitality beyond our meetings services can only benefit your event.
Work on Return On Opportunity, not Return On Investment
A successful meeting depends in large part on who is attending and why. Make the professional value proposition — the “why attend” — clear by relying on tested, objective goals—measurement of the critical factors executives want to see improved upon at the meeting. “It’s mandatory” never got anyone excited. “It’s at Kiawah” helps, but should never be the main proposition for your meeting, nor the guiding principle in creating your attendees list.
The values of your company — ecologically sound practices, luxury and fine dining, health and wellness, productivity or showy technological savvy, social and professional connections through golf, or fostering a great team attitude — should guide the agenda and how inclusive or exclusive your list may be.
This builds upon the specific purpose of your event in a thoughtful, and measurable, way.ROO is an extension of measuring that purpose and productivity. Measurement can become a factor in the RSVP process. As we’ve outlined in previous posts,
“ROO involves pre-testing of attendees on critical factors that the organization wants to see improved at the meeting, followed by post-testing weeks or months after the meeting to see if those benefits were achieved.”
Including a baseline ROO measurement in the RSVP process may make a lot of sense: an online survey, perhaps, or schedule pre-meeting evaluations. Or simply explain the process in the first succinct introductory emails. This also introduces a sometimes necessary element to the RSVP experience: friction.
Make RSVP easy, but not too easy.
Ever sent out an electronic invitation for a social event, planned for all 200 people who replied to come, and been disappointed by having 20 actually show up? RSVPing inaccurately is never considerate or professional, but has become increasingly common in informal settings.
Online tools can sometimes make it too easy to say yes without thinking through the actual logistics: who else would need to be at the meeting, how much time you can actually devote to it, whether family members will need adjacent bookings to take advantage of the beauty of South Carolina once you extend your meeting into a family vacation (hint, hint. We were named one of the top family vacations in the world by Travel + Leisure recently.)
Introducing some necessary friction into the process will slow it down just enough to ensure that the right people receive the right information, and have time to respond thoughtfully. A clarification process for details such as an online survey or a scheduled series of confirmations and check-ins as the event approaches would do the trick. The first responses may not be the most accurate ones.
Throughout the process, be careful who you’re talking to.
Keep several contact lists of who is responsible for key concepts/presentations/seminars and separately, more importantly, their ‘helpers’ — the people (assistants, secretaries, and anyone responsible for logistics) who can actually answer your question about what time their flight gets in for transportation or their preferred welcome snack for their arrival at our accommodations (a gourmet cheese plate for a lactose-intolerant person may not go over well) without having to search a crowded inbox.
That said, be thoughtful of others’ time. Ensure that the information they need is centrally located (on an intranet server, in an email that takes all necessary info into account, perhaps in a document that is revised and distributed after key points are clarified.)
Write succinctly, and be sure all details are complete before you send any emails or messages out. Finalize an agenda before you begin sending a tentative one to everyone: reply-all is not your friend. Sending out multiple reply-all threads is not an efficient way to ensure that everyone stays in the loop, it’s a cop-out where you’re forcing others to sort through the necessary threads for relevant information. Don’t make them work too hard for it, by being organized and efficient.
Be gracious on the day of when there are inevitable extras.
Now, we’re talking from a point of expertise when we say we’re professional proponents of Southern hospitality. Grace under fire can be as simple as taking a deep breath, and as complex as being prepared in advance.
Let us know of any uncertainties or contingencies. A well-planned event always has a few hidden chairs and supplies for extra people. With room to seat up to 600 in some venues, we have more than enough flexibility (and extra seats).
Who knows, maybe your newcomers will spark ideas in your meetings you may not have actualized by leaving them out on the dreaded folding chair, so welcome them graciously and let us handle setting up a few extra spaces. Relaxing and taking advantage of the amenities of Kiawah during your next meeting will certainly help foster this productive, flexible mindset.