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Planning Ahead: How to Prepare for an Off-Site Work Meeting

Wednesday, September 20, 2017 9:00 AM

Expert Advice, The BSM Way

Written by: Gina Kaspar

Editor's note: As BSM Consulting heads off to its own multi-day off-site strategic planning meeting — an annual event the entire team looks forward to and finds valuable — Gina Kaspar, BSM's director of human resources and finance, provides several tips on how to successfully prepare for your own big meeting.  

Gina Kaspar
Director of human resources and finance

One of the most rewarding and potentially beneficial perks a practice can provide to enhance staff morale and inspire a collaborative team spirit is an off-site, company-wide meeting. Uniting everyone in the practice to discuss practice improvement ideas, future growth, and team aspirations is not only good for employee satisfaction, but it is likely to pay off financially in the long run.

Much of the planning that goes into such an event is done months in advance and behind the scenes. Here are some tips to help the process unfold smoothly:

Put someone in charge. A meeting planner must be identified before any concrete planning can occur. This individual should feel comfortable working in a collaborative team setting and have experience negotiating rates and reviewing contracts.

Determine the location and numbers. Early in the process, it is important to pinpoint possible locations, dates, number of attendees, the meeting space, and the estimated number of rooms needed. In order to make a good decision the meeting planner should contact several resorts, hotels, and/or conference facilities to obtain cost estimates for the event.

Scrutinize the contract. Once the location, dates, and price quotes are determined, the conference facility and/or hotel will want to have a signed contract in place to hold the rooms and meeting space. Allocation of additional charges (e.g., room service, spa use) will also need to be determined at this stage.

Determine space, catering, and audio/visual (AV) needs. Some things to consider when booking the meeting space includes the availability of the room throughout the day, catering needs, and AV needs such as a projector, pull-down screen, flip charts, and Wi-Fi. 

Book transportation and provide guidelines. When booking airfares, the meeting planner should keep in mind that there are some good rates online, but many are nonrefundable. Also, it’s a good idea to provide TSA travel guidelines and airline luggage information to those flying. If the event is held locally, consider renting ground transportation that can accommodate everyone (i.e., a van or bus).

Decide on entertainment and meals. Decide in advance if the practice wishes to pay for the entire team to do group activities such as seeing a show or attending a sporting event. It is important to balance fun time with meeting time.

Abide by Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) laws for nonexempt employees. There are laws that dictate what employers must pay hourly employees when asking them to travel on scheduled work days or scheduled days off. Be sure to abide by these laws in order to avoid potential issues.

Keep everyone informed. As the event approaches, keep everyone informed of the details, especially if something changes that directly affects them. The pre-event goal of the practice should be to take all of the stress and anxiety out of the equation for all participants.

Off-site meetings can be rewarding for everyone involved, but they also take a lot of up-front, behind-the-scenes work to be successful.

YOUR TURN: Do you hold an off-site meeting for your team? If so, what do you do in advance to ensure your meeting is a success? Please leave your response in the comment section below.  

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