It’s time consuming. It’s tedious. It’s the job that just won’t go away.
Of all the items on the meeting planner check list, tracking of transportation arrangements and guest room reservations is one of the most challenging. Even when the monumental task of recording everyone’s information is done, the job is far from complete. People’s schedules change… and the changes start pouring in. You now must begin tracking and trying to keep up with the continuous changes.
So what are your options?
Stop tracking – Some meeting planners find that it is better to let attendees manage their own reservations and transportation details. The advantage to this, of course, is that it saves time on the front end. This can be a good option for smaller groups – and in situations where attendees are paying for their own rooms and transportation. For larger, more complex meetings, this is often not a valid option.
Do it yourself – As difficult as it is to keep up with all the reservation and transportation details, you may sometimes feel like you just have to take it on yourself. This ultimately gives you the most control over the final outcome. You use a detailed spreadsheet to track and display everyone's scheduled arrival and departure information. You then track and share changes with the hotel or transportation company. This is a tedious, thankless job that requires great attention to detail.
Outsource it – When budget permits, some meeting planners are willing to pay a pretty penny to hand off the entire process of tracking reservations and transportation. Companies specializing in administrative and support services can be a real time saver. They handle all arrangements and communications directly with each attendee, and in most cases, provide on-site guest support on travel days.
Depend on the property – Another option is to select a conference center capable of collecting individual guest room and travel arrangements online. At Q Center, we provide this option as a part of our complete meeting package. Attendees submit their reservations and ground transportation information online. They then receive an automatic electronic confirmation with a password for future changes. Information is kept up to date and you, the meeting planner, have full access.
While each of the above options has its own advantages, you ultimately have to choose the best one based on the details of your specific meeting. The size of the meeting, the budget and the resources you have available are all important factors when making your choice.
What have you found to be the best way to keep this information tracked and up to date? Leave a comment and let us know.