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Meeting Planning Software Tools & Conference Planning Guide | Corbin Ball & Co.

Send me your meeting planning spreadsheets, sample database files, checklists, and any other tools you have developed using standard off-the-shelf software. I will review and post the best ones here and include your name as the author and other contact information if desired. Let's share from each other's experiences!

Excel Spreadsheets

The spreadsheets below (unless otherwise noted) were developed and honed over years of planning international, city-wide technology meetings. Although designed for large, association meetings, many of them are applicable to many types and sizes of meetings. All are fully functional Excel files -- just click on the hyperlink and save if you wish to keep for your own use. Thanks to my colleagues at SPIE who assisted or advised in their creation.

Downloading notes: On some browsers, a username and password is requested. Simply hit "cancel" and the spreadsheet will load. In order to save the document, click "File" and then "SaveAs" and name and place the document on your hard drive where desired. 

Meeting Specifications Spreadsheets:

Conference Matrix Grid View
This provides a one-page view of a large, multi-session, multi-day meeting. This works especially well for meeting room assignments and finding out at a glance what is happening where.

Conference Resume
Answer all the questions the hotel may have even before they have a chance to ask them! Convention Services Managers (CSMs) will love you for providing this information before they have to track it down. This document should be the opening pages of the Specifications Document and it addresses most of the department of the hotel.

Complete Conference Specifications
This spreadsheet contains an example of the full specifications that are sent to the hotel CSM. This should follow the Conference Resume listed above. Included in this are numerous ideas on how to streamline and improve your communication with the hotel. Many CSMs have mentioned that these have been the clearest an easy-to-use specifications that they have every received! Check them out.

Specialized Tracking Spreadsheets (listed alphabetically by function):
Attrition Calculator MeetingU.
Is your sleeping room pickup coming in short of the block? How bad is it? With this worksheet you enter your historical pickup pattern, your room block and your pickup up to date.  It will automatically calculate the variance and note a danger flag based on the amount of contracted slippage is allowed.
AV Equipment Bid Worksheet   
This worksheet provides a bid sheet that can be emailed to AV companies. It computes the total  daily unit total for equipment from the day-by-day totals entered. A unit cost can then be assigned  by the AV company, and automatically calculating a total cost per equipment type. The sheet  provides cells for discounts to be inserted, as well as for sales tax, labor, and delivery charges. The  total cost is found at the bottom.
Catering Cost Estimator Worksheet
The handy spreadsheet will calculate daily and overall catering costs, inclusive pricing, and event how many gallons of coffee, tea and decaf should be served..
Budget: Event Budget Template
Fill in the blanks and it totals and graphs the budget and expense items.
Budget: Meetings Savings Template MPI Global Circle of Excellence 

Budget: Meeting Expense Tracking Workbook
Track your budget, forecast, and actual meeting expenses over several meetings in this easy-to-use, well planned and documented spreadsheet. Please note: the SUMMARY page is protected (you can't make changes to this page as it contains the formulas that consolidate the data from the meetings pages). 
Exhibitor Tracker
This worksheet graphs three important exhibit variables:
1. The total number of companies exhibiting at a particular show over the years
2. The total net square footage sold over the years.
3. Exhibitor company registration pickup. 
Hotel Room Pickup Trackers (2 worksheets in the same document)
This worksheet monitors the hotel sleeping room pickup for a single hotel (the first worksheet tab) and  multiple hotels (the second tab). They calculate individual hotel and collective room totals, compares these totals to a percentage of the room block, estimates total revenue and graphs it out on a weekly basis compared to the block.  The single hotel tracker will even calculate your comp  credits.

Hotel Rack Rate Discount Calculator MeetingU.
This worksheet calculates discounts off of the rack sleeping room rate and future years' inflation increases.  

Hotel Site Selection Rating Sheet by Marcia Neu.  
This decision-making aid for a site selection assists in comparing multiple sites.  It allows for the decision-making factors and the weighting to be tailored to a particular meeting's priorities and needs. Ideally, the weighting of factors is set before the property review, so that a personal bias for or against a particular property won't show up in the weighting. After reviewing properties in detail or doing site inspections, you assign each property a number and rate it on a Likert scale (probably of 1 to 5 or 1 to 7).  

Packing List Worksheet
The packing list is another item that naturally fits into a grid format, and, therefore, a good candidate for an Excel spreadsheet. It is broken down into areas (AV, Registration, etc.). This location is marked on the address label, making it easier to unpack on site. Each box is numbered as well. As the equipment is packed, the box number is noted on the master packing sheet. Then it becomes easier to track onsite.
Registration Pickup Tracker  
This document tracks and graphs registration totals by category over years. The second graph looks at the registration pickup, and how it compares to the previous year. Note color coding by
Sign List Worksheet
Yes, even the sign list can be made in an Excel spread sheet. The idea is that, using the multiple-tab worksheet feature, all of these documents can be combined into one larger document, and kept in one place with all of the relevant data.  Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of this sheet, to find many tips on how signs should be used in a conference setting.  This document also demonstrates the multi-tab feature -- look at the bottom for the tab for "Signs" as well as one for "Sign Guide." 
Temporary Staff (Security Staff/AV Staff) Hours Worksheet 

This worksheet will calculate hour worked, standard pay, overtime pay for individuals and a total. It also servers as a bid sheet to send to temporary staff agencies, security, AV firms, or any firm where you will be hiring staff on an hourly basis.

Timeline: Conference Calendar and Timeline 
This automated calendar allow you to enter a date  and it will automatically calculate the deadline dates leading up to it.  Thanks to Lisa Shimuzu, Corporate Meeting Planner for Milliman & Roberston, Inc., who contributed this sheet 

Timeline: Meeting Planning Timeline  Jonathan Ricketts, DIY Conferences 

       Web, Word, and PDF Tool Links:

Checklist/Forms Compilations::
Glossary Convention Industry Council APEX Initiative
APEX Templates Event Specifications, Post-Event Reports, Housing and Registration, RFPs, Site Profiles, Events Industry Council
AV Checklist (PDF) from AVFX
AV Checklist (PDF) Planning Helper
AV Checklist for Event Planning Yale University 
AV Equipment Checklist (PDF) Calvin University  Budget Tools
Screen Size Calculator 

Food and Beverage Checklist

Catering Checklist Food-Lover.com
Catering Questions ,Checklist and Tips, FrenchGourmet.com

Contracts and Negotiations:
CIC-APEX Destination Management Best Practice Guide (Word Doc)     Housing and Room Block Management:
Convene Room Block Management (Word Doc)   

Bandwidth Estimator for Meetings and Events 
Internet Speed Tester (mobile and computer app)
Internet Speed Tester (1 penny per search is donated to the Electronic Frontier Foundation)

Meeting Timeline:
Event Planning Checklist  (PDF file), Planning Helper
Event Planning Timeline Planning Helper 
Generic Meeting Planning To-Do List (Word Doc) Barry Seidenstat of Multimedia By Design Peer Review:

The Perfect Registration Desk ConferenceBadges.co.ukRFPs:
RFP Management
Site Facility Information Request Template (Word Doc) eMeetingExperts.com. 

RFP Tracker (Word Doc) Holly Murray, Meeting Services Manager for Prime. 

Room Set-ups:
Meeting/Banquet Space Calculator Hotel Planner
Meeting Space/Booth Calculator
Banquet and Meeting Room Calculator Banquet Tables
Seating Chart (primarily for weddings) formswift.comSafety - Security - Accessibility:
Planning A Barrier Free Meeting (PDF) from North Caroline Office of Disability and Health
Event Safety and Security Action Plan (Word Doc)    

Site Inspection:

Site Inspection Handbook (PDF file) Mike Lyon, Write Style Communication  
The Technology Site Inspection Technology Meetings
Site Inspection Checklist (Word Doc)  

Speaker Checklist
Speaker Event Checklist Suppliers:
Working with International Suppliers ICCA
General Services Contractor Sample RFP (Word Doc) Sabina Timlin, Director of Exposition, American Academy of Audiology

Send in your favorite tool links!
Send in your meeting planning spreadsheets, sample database files, checklists, and any other tools you have developed using standard off-the-shelf software. I will  review and post the best ones here and include your name as the author and other contact information if desired. Let's share from each others experiences!

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