Meeting and event planners are expected to hold a "pre-con" meeting with the conference services manager at hotels, conference facilities, convention centers and elsewhere before a scheduled conference. It's essentially the conference before the conference.
For those who may not plan frequent meetings, a pre-con meeting may seem uncomfortable or awkward at first because it may include new terms or language, such as "event resume" or "banquet event order."
What Should Event Planners Expect From a Pre-con?
A pre-con is a meeting that is held with event vendors and suppliers where the event or program is scheduled to take place. It is held usually one or two days prior to the actual event and is different from the walkthrough that occurs on the day of an event.
Some people may associate pre-con meetings with planning larger conferences, conventions, congresses and incentive programs. However, it is also common to hold a pre-con meeting for seminars and other special events.
What to Expect During a Pre-Con Meeting
The pre-con meeting allows the event planner an opportunity to review all final logistics for a given program with the supplier management team who are involved in the program.
Typically, a pre-con meeting is coordinated and scheduled by the venue’s conference services manager. He or she will invite managers from various areas that are involved in the event to review the logistics of their particular role for an event. This is an excellent time for the meeting or event planner to establish a rapport with everyone involved.
During the pre-con, it is appropriate for the event planner to highlight some of the key objectives of the event, including important information about the organization hosting the event, key messages being conveyed at the event, and important VIPs.
Pre-Con Is the Right Time to Review the Event Resume
An event resume is also known as event specifications. It includes all relevant information about a program or an event, including details about the program itself. These items may include some or all of the following: dates, times, contacts, attendee profiles, emergency contacts, food and beverage, transportation, shipping information, billing, audio/visual, and other special needs.
Each department manager will review his or her understanding of the event, including relevant details and their typical operating procedures. They will also review their understanding of the event contract and information previously shared on the banquet event orders.
Meeting and event planners should remember to ask detailed questions related to the event specifications during this time, such as staffing levels and the names of key contacts during the actual event from all areas represented. Key elements of the pre-con discussion may include a review of:
- Food and beverage requirements
- Guest rooming list requirements (if appropriate)
- Conference and trade show exhibit requirements
- Meeting room and trade show space requirements (floor plans)
- Technical requirements, such as electrical and telecommunications
- Details about signage placement
This is the ideal time to make any last minute changes. Although they may not always like it, most vendors and suppliers expect reasonable (and unreasonable) changes. Of course, if the pre-con is scheduled during a time when set-up is in progress, consider conducting an early room inspection to make sure everything is running smoothly.