When it comes to successful event planning, preparation is key. Meeting and event planners must be ready to face any and all of the challenges that might arise during both the event planning and execution stages. Thinking ahead is essential to the success of any meeting or event. Here are some of the basic elements you should consider when planning for a successful event.
Know Your Budget
If you can determine the amount of money available to spend on an event, it will keep your costs from adding up beyond what you can afford. Make sure that you list out on a spreadsheet, online program, or other document, every line item for each detail of your event that is going to cost money. Break down all of these costs as much as possible, listing the amount you plan to spend as well as the amount you actually end up spending. Keeping track of your budget can keep it from spiraling out of control. If this is a new event for you, start by researching costs for similar events held in your area to make your estimates as accurate as possible. Remember that many of these expenses must be paid in advance, so be sure to keep track of all payment deadlines as well. And try to leave a bit of room in your budget for the unexpected – which can and does happen.
Choose the Right Venue
Once you have a budget, start your event planning by booking the best venue to fit your needs. The setting you select creates the framework for your event and will impact almost all other event elements. Book it as far in advance as possible – ideally nine months to a year ahead of time, so that your top venue choice will be available and can be taken into account as you decide on the other elements of your event. Location plays into marketing, choice of vendors, itinerary, list of attendees and more. Of course, some events can or need to be booked at the last minute. If you are trying to make plans within a shorter window of time, don’t despair. Securing a great venue is possible, even at the last minute – but you may need to be more flexible in your choices.
Make Careful Catering Choices
If possible, choose your caterer at least nine months in advance. Food is one of the most important elements of an event, as it sets the tone and mood for your attendees. Those with a full, happy stomach throughout an event are more likely to look on the event itself as positive, making them more likely to buy into the ideas you are sharing and more likely to attend future events. Keep in mind that some venues may restrict you to using their onsite caterer only, not allowing for outside food options. Regardless, try to finalize your menu choices by at least one to two months out, as product and ingredient availability varies according to season, chefs, and other factors. Food and beverages must usually be finalized with the number of guests by two weeks in advance or more. Be sure you know what your vendor expects in terms of final head count.
Set Clear Objectives
From the purpose of your event, to any themes that may be incorporated, each of your objectives should be finalized as early as possible. This allows for targeted outreach and confirmation of vendors, presenters and attendees. For success, you need to have SMART objectives that are: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. During the event you need to know what your objectives are so that after the event you are able to measure effectiveness.
Do your Marketing – Before and After
Promotion is essential to a successful event. You need to know your stakeholders and/or target audience, and inform and persuade these people that your event is relevant to them. Who is your event aimed at? Who is going to have an influence on the success or failure of your objectives? An event is also the perfect way to improve your social media presence. Share a relevant hashtag for your event on Twitter, create an event page on Facebook, and encourage your followers to tag the event in all of their relevant posts. Upload photos once the event is over and actively encourage attendees to tag themselves and share the photos as well.
Have a Backup Plan
Over the course of planning the event, things are going to change. Whether it is event times, locations or attendees, you need to ensure that you’re flexible and can meet any changing demands or issues, such as an item not arriving on time or a presenter arriving late. Assess the most important elements of your event, and create a backup plan for each. Continually monitor your event as it progresses, and be ready to initiate your backup plans as needed.
Evaluate Satisfaction Immediately
The last item on your event planning list is to establish a system for monitoring the success of your event and/or any action plans that come from it. Satisfaction means retention and follow-through, as determined by the objectives you already set. Once the event is over, don’t wait to gather this important information. Follow up with attendees immediately over email or on social media, to determine the success of your event.
One of the most important elements of meeting and event planning is venue selection. Maritime Conference Center, conveniently located just four miles from Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, features a full range of venues encompassing 100,000 square feet of meeting and event space, all equipped with the latest in audiovisual technology and Internet capabilities.
Conference Centers often make it easy for meeting planners to custom design their gatherings to meet any budget and specifications because they offer various meeting packages, a simplified planning process and value-added amenities for their meetings. While the Complete Meeting Package (CMP) is sometimes a bit too rigid, many properties deliver needed flexibility by offering Daily Meeting Packages (DMPs), Guestroom Packages and Modified Meeting Packages (MMPs). These prices are fixed, per-person fees and include most aspects of a meeting, such as general session space, audio visual, food and accommodations. Conference centers are oftentimes equipped to provide additional receptions, dinners, team building activities and events as add-ons to meetings as well.
Many conference centers also provide centralized break areas. These break areas are conveniently located outside meeting spaces throughout the property and offer a variety of snacks as well as a place for guests to socialize and network with one another. Typically, a morning break will consist of items found on a continental breakfast, and afternoon breaks will include sweet and salty snacks, healthy options and refreshing drinks. Conference center meeting packages typically include breakfast, lunch and dinner, served in a dining room setting. The idea is that properties can provide a value-added package, and meet many different dietary needs, by providing meals to all guests from the same menu in the same space. This idea of serving many meeting guests from different groups in a central atmosphere helps limit staffing levels and food waste, therefore providing value for planners’ budgets.
Another feature at most conference centers is their AV capabilities. Meeting rooms oftentimes have screens and projectors built in, and internet capabilities conducive for presentations, webcasting, simulcasting and more. Computer labs, exhibitor areas and unique reception spaces are often found within conference center locations as well. Ample square footage and multiple meeting rooms of various sizes are typical of conference centers, these various spaces can be utilized for additional breakout meetings and team building activities. The convenience of onsite guestroom accommodations, recreation options, dining and outdoor space all add to the convenience of a conference center.
At Maritime Conference Center we typically split the traditional CMP into two separate packages, the DMP and the Guestroom Package. This allows a meeting planner to easily accommodate both local commuters and guests staying on property. The DMP includes a general session meeting room, essential AV package (to include a laser projector, screen, two flip charts, podium, microphone, pens and notepads), access to the centralized break area in the morning and afternoon, and lunch served in our buffet-style dining room. The Guestroom Package, for guests needing overnight accommodations, includes a clean, comfortable guestroom, dinner and breakfast served in our dining room, and access to our indoor heated swimming pool, recreation room and fitness center.
Should all guests be staying on property, we can combine these two packages (the DMP and Guestroom Package) to create a full CMP. There are also many times that a meeting does not fit into these traditional scenarios, so we create a MMP to ensure the planners’ needs are taken care of for a reasonable package price.
Adding yet another aspect of value, Maritime Conference Center includes complimentary shuttle transportation from Baltimore Washington International Airport, Amtrak and Light Rail stations and complimentary parking. In addition, our proximity to Baltimore, Annapolis and DC allows your guests to explore attractions like Oriole Park at Camden Yards and the National Aquarium in Baltimore, waterfront shopping and dining in Annapolis and nation’s capital attractions like the National Mall, White House, Capitol Hill and more.
Host your next event at Maritime Conference Center, where our philosophy of “Hospitality Focused, Technology Driven™” ensures a standout function. Contact us at Conference_Sales@mccbwi.org or (866) 900-3517.
Many of us are stuck at home during the current COVID-19 pandemic and probably cooking more meals than we are use to. Thankfully, our catering partners at FLIK Hospitality Group, and our very own Chef John, are providing some of their favorite recipes so that you can mix things up in the kitchen at home. Chef John even included kid-friendly options!
See the images below for the available recipes we have so far, and keep checking back for more! Thank you Chef John!
We know that many are now home working remotely and/or caring for children while schools are closed, so we thought it might be fun to create a maritime-themed coloring page for them AND a make a contest out of it as well!
Many thanks to our partner, Ironmark, for helping us bring this to life!
From our partner, My Cleaning Service, Inc. - here are some quick tips about how viruses, like COVID-19, spread and what you can do to protect yourself and others.
Much of what people are going through right now is actually identity related. Our self-esteem and identity are so closely wrapped into what we do and produce at work. For those of us who are watching everything we’ve worked so hard to build disappear, it’s really difficult.
The hospitality industry has been hit really hard. We’ve literally been in a whirlwind of tornado strength . . . cancellations of all meetings, events and individual travel. Hotels and Conference Centers are literally shutting their doors, people are being laid off, and the travel industry has come to a screeching halt. We certainly aren’t the only industry being impacted, there are many industries being hit really hard right now.
What do we do from here? How can we utilize this time to regroup and pause. What direction will we go in when the slate has literally been wiped clean? My Mom often uses the statement “God wastes nothing.” In no way do I believe that God is responsible for Coronavirus, but are blessings possible even in these terrible circumstances? Are we capable of learning and growth in the middle of this chaos? I certainly believe we can create good in the midst of even the most difficult situations.
So, how do we regroup? What should we do now? How do we let go and then make room in our hearts and minds for possibilities?
In times of crisis there are opportunities that present themselves. Opportunities to show kindness and compassion, to practice gratitude and be free from the everyday muck that sometimes binds us. If we can lean into this temporary moment of severe difficulty and embrace all of what it’s offering we may be quite surprised by the gifts wrapped in brown paper packages. It’s often in the moments of lack when we can find the most clarity.
I was speaking with an older individual who has been forced to go in a different direction in terms of his career and is having a difficult time leaning into the change. In speaking with him I learned that he has a core value he can’t let go of. A core value that says “The moment I stop working I’ll start dying”. This nearly breaks my heart, but I’m realizing a lot of us feel this way. We are so greatly connected to producing, to working, that even when we are forced to stop for a temporary period of time we are presented with what we perceive to be truths like “I’m a failure”, “I’m not valuable”, “I’m not worthy” because we are no longer achieving in the way we’ve always measured achievement.
I feel like a farmer who planted her crops, worked the land and watched the produce begin to grow up out of the land. Excitedly expecting the crops to flourish and to have plenty to eat and sell at harvest. And now I’m looking out onto the empty fields after a major storm has hit and I was forced to rip the dead, rotting harvest out of the ground and toss it out.
It’s a terrible, awful, helpless feeling. There is a sadness and it’s okay to take a moment to mourn. But if we are looking into the empty field, then we aren’t dead. We are still worthy. We are important to someone. We have children or friends or family that need us. We have things yet to accomplish. We have love to give and dreams to dream.
Our identity, our self-worth, is SO much more than just what we produced or what we worked on today. If we can lean into these scary feelings and allow ourselves to be healed by the reality that we are more than our work . . . that healing will provide the source for new growth, insights and passions. It sounds crazy, but If we can take this opportunity to pause and evaluate, if we can separate ourselves from production for even a short period of time, if we can heal and let go of or evaluate the core values that are holding us back we will come out of this changed. If we take this time and moment of rest seriously and we dig deep and we allow ourselves to really feel and experience all of this (even the really hard stuff) . . . I believe we will catapult into the next phase of our lives.
How often do we wish we had a bit more time? What is it you’ve been needing? Open the brown paper package and take advantage of the gifts in front of you. Spend time with your children, spouse or self. Read a book, sing a song, paint, bake, hike, write the business plan, create your vision board, re-evaluate your department or business, meditate, sleep . . .
Do what’s necessary now because this season is fleeting. We are all hopeful to “get back to normal” as soon as possible, but when it’s time to plant the crops again will you know who you are and what seeds to sow?
Written by Jill Porter, Director of Sales & Marketing, MCC. Jill has 20 years of hospitality experience, ranging from limited and select service to full service properties (sales and operational experience), branded and independent hotels and conference centers.
Today, March 19, marks the first official day of Spring! There are so many places to visit and things to do nearby in Maryland and D.C., especially now that the weather is warming up!
Here's a short list to get you started:
This list certainly doesn't encompass all of the festivals and other things to do nearby. Thankfully, the Maryland Office of Tourism provides several lists of the numerous activities and events Maryland has to offer. Check them out below:
Effectively using technology in meetings has become a crucial factor for success. As technology becomes easier to integrate into meetings, it becomes more and more important for both experiences and outcomes. Merging technology with meeting planning tools — including websites, apps, social media, and other IT initiatives — brings inspiring opportunities to make each meeting and event an effective and valuable one. Modern audiovisual technology can automate manual processes and streamline each element of an event. It can be used to quickly communicate important information, such as last-minute changes, to attendees and can also create targeted communication plans for moving forward after a meeting. Here are a few exciting ways to incorporate technology into your meetings.
Video Calls and Web Conferencing
With so many remote and virtual employees, meeting attendees are often working from home, in another office, or even in another country. With the right tools, they can still contribute to a meeting via video calls or web conferencing. Both free and paid-for apps enable you to see each other and share presentations and documents with ease.
Interactive whiteboard software for large touchscreens supports brainstorming sessions, group involvement, and audience feedback. Many electronic whiteboards have USB ports enabling connection to devices including flash drives, cameras, and camcorders. Some are even “smart” and can connect wirelessly to a local network or the Internet, allowing real-time input from multiple users in different locations.
Advanced projection technology has led to new interactive projectors that not only display files for everyone to see, but allow individual team members to engage with documents via touch technology, similar to interactive whiteboards. This means your group will be able to edit documents, presentations, and reports together as a team.
Social Media & Mobile Apps
Integrating social media and mobile apps into meetings and events allows meeting planners and presenters to use large-screen LED displays to share real-time results on trending topics, statistics, poll results, and comments or questions from attendees. Displaying live feeds and results for everyone to see and discuss on shared screens also keeps individuals from focusing on personal mobile devices, increasing the interactive experience for all.
Virtual reality technology has the potential to become the next big thing for meetings and events. There is growing use of VR by venue operators to create virtual tours and site inspections, to showcase venues ahead of a formal opening, and to create VR experiences for properties worldwide. More applications can be expected in the near future.
Access to modern communication tools is quickly becoming one of the most important elements of meeting venue selection. Maritime Conference Center, situated just four miles from Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, offers a full range of modern audiovisual equipment and technical support. We’d love to help you incorporate technology into your next meeting in the Baltimore, Annapolis and Washington, DC area.
International Women's Day is celebrated every year on March 8th. This year the campaign theme is Each for Equal.
The main message of this year's campaign is that an equal world is an enabled world. We are all responsible for our own actions, our own thoughts, so we can all actively choose to challenge stereotypes, improve situations, fight bias and celebrate women's achievements. We are all parts of a whole.
Further, equality is not just a women's issue - it's a business issue, and it's essential for economies and communities to thrive. The positives a gender equal world bring to the table are healthier, wealthier and more harmonious communities, workplaces, etc.
Together we can all help create a gender equal world!
MCC celebrated by striking this year's #EachforEqual pose and participating in local events like Maryland Public Television's Women Leadership Forum.
Click here to learn more about this year's IWD campaign and what you can do to help forge a gender equal world.
Maritime Conference Center BlogWe've launched a new blog and can't wait to share news and other content with you!
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