AMPED location logo

We are people people.

We’re excited about what we do
and have passion for our profession

start finish

You thought you were finished, but the work has just begun . . . for the next one.

The quintessential mark of professional meeting planning is the ability to facilitate continuous improvement. If you don’t think of the next one NOW, it will be too late. The longer you wait to start planning the next event or conference, the less opportunity you have to improve it.

We just concluded organizing the largest MS meeting in the world. Close to 9,000 MS specialists, researchers, clinicians, advocates and allied health professionals from 92 countries convened in Boston in mid-September.

The wrap up involves not only making sure we pay all the bills and collect all outstanding receivables, but also making time to reflect on and document the success and lessons learned from the meeting to position the organization for greater success in its future meetings.

Here are five things to keep in mind as you conclude your meeting.

Hold a debrief. Find out how each member of your core team felt about what just transpired. Review stats of demographics and responses in attendee surveys. Meet with your vendors and reflect on each aspect of the meeting planning. Share the results with the leadership. Ask your committee members what they say were valuable lessons learned and what were worth repeating. Between the various stakeholders’ comments, you’ll see a pattern of laudable aspects and not-so-ideal scenarios that may have taken place on the show floor. Plan to repeat aspects of the meeting planning that worked, re-strategize and re-think clunky processes or services.

Document. Once you know what’s replicable and what needs to be changed, write a memo outlining the recommended changes. Keep photos of the rooms to help you remember set-ups. Record data of usage of services (Wi-Fi, web clicks, access views) and specs of technical requirements. Consider writing three report levels: one for sharing to anyone who asks; one for the board of directors with outlined suggestions; and another for the staff with the nitty gritty details to help in future planning, vendor hire, contracting and negotiations.

Celebrate. Have you written personal thank you notes to key team members and vendors? Leave voice mails of thanks for that special touch. Throw a get-together with staff and vendors, if they’re local, to tell them how much they were appreciated. Share photos of the events among staff to reminisce the outstanding work that everyone just did. Write letters of recommendation to vendors’ staff who did an outstanding job.

Purge. Go through your network and paper files and remove doubles of draft copies. Save the final version of any print material. Delete unnecessary emails. Sort emails and save only problem-solving or communication threads where decisions were made. Label the inboxes and file away.

Rest. When everything is finished, take time off to recharge. Shut down your phone and don’t check emails. When you come back to the office — your energies will be renewed. You will feel more confident. When you have everything recorded, you won’t need to remember how you want to execute the meeting next time because you’ve already thought about it. You will have more excitement for the next one and the cycle of excellence continues.

Continue reading
in Event Management 1893 0
Rate this blog entry:

boston 1

Record-breaking registration numbers is every meeting planner’s dream. But what if attendance grows so much that the contracted meeting venue is no longer the ideal location? Put on your thinking cap because it’s time for a creative backup plan that will appear flawless to the participants.

AMPED recently encountered this very situation when hosting the world’s largest single gathering of multiple sclerosis physicians, clinical researchers and scientists in Boston. The convention center contract was signed years ago, prior to our full-service management, at which time a realistic growth goal was 6,500 attendees. This attendance projection made for the perfect match between the venue and the program. However, when we saw a huge surge in registration numbers just weeks before the kickoff of the live event, it was time to think outside the box.

The convention center auditorium could not accommodate our nearly 9,000 registrants. Thankfully, technology made an overflow plan possible. We were able to stream video of the keynote presentation from the auditorium to the largest ballroom in the convention center. In the event we needed another overflow room, we were prepared to stream into a second ballroom.

We had originally planned to have all food and beverage in the exhibit hall to drive traffic to our valued exhibitors and supporters. Unfortunately, the packed exhibit hall could not handle the 38 percent increase in attendance, so we had to rethink our menus as well as the food and beverage placement. It would be impossible for all attendees to go through a buffet line one by one; the length of time for decision making and serving would create unacceptably long lines. Boxed lunches were the best solution fulfilling our need for a “grab and go” scenario.

The sheer volume of people meant we also needed to reconsider the staffing plan. Having additional team members on hand to direct traffic to either an overflow meeting room or the nearest food station was key.

Make no mistake, finding the best solution for your attendees is not a one-person task. You’re going to need your entire team behind you to make this successful. Bring in your logistics professionals, audiovisual crew and catering team, in addition to your program experts who truly understand the heart of the event.

Although stressful at times, I am so proud to have been a part of a passionate team that was fully committed to producing an outstanding event. The compliments and positive feedback continue to pour in. Congrats to all!

Continue reading
in Event Management 1545 0
Rate this blog entry:

animals I got your back

Traveling outside of the office is not a foreign concept in our line of work at AMPED. From board meetings to site visits, you can usually find at least one of our staff members traveling around the country at any point throughout the year. While the majority of these trips are quick, sometimes our “out of office” replies are scheduled for a much longer period of time. During these longer meetings, I’ve come to learn that supporting your colleagues while they are out of the office and vice versa is crucial. 

Just this week, half of our AMPED team is in Boston, Mass. organizing an 8,000-attendee conference. With a meeting of this capacity, our team certainly has their hands full. There’s a lot to consider, both with this client’s meeting and our other clients who still deserve our attention. With so much on the line, how does our office make everything run so smoothly?

The first step is to make sure that everyone is knowledgeable about the event that is taking place. There’s a very high chance that those who are most familiar with the event are onsite and may not be available to answer emails or phone calls. So it’s important that those in the office know enough about the meeting to respond to any questions that may come up. It’s typical to have phone calls pour in after the launch of the meeting. Everyone must be prepared to answer questions like, “Can I still register onsite?” or “Where can I find parking?”

One way to educate the entire staff is to hold a staff meeting – something that AMPED President and Owner Lynda Patterson did one week prior to our event in Boston. A high-level overview was provided, as well as detailed instructions on where staff could locate valuable meeting information. This type of planning makes it easier on all of those involved – onsite staff aren’t distracted with minor questions and staff at headquarters aren’t tirelessly searching for answers.

It’s also important that we provide support to our colleagues and their other projects and clients while they are out of the office. At AMPED, we are committed to providing ongoing attention to all our clients. Just because there is a big meeting taking place for one client, doesn’t mean our other clients take a backseat. We accomplish this by shifting some work around in the short-term so that all of our bases are covered. Adhering to deadlines, responding to emails and remaining on top of things are always a priority — meeting or no meeting. Before our colleagues leave, it’s essential that we meet with those who need your assistance while they are away and create a list of assignments that must be completed. Reviewing and prioritizing the assignments will ensure that there is a complete understanding of expectations. It’s also a good idea to check in periodically with your colleague while they are out of office.

Traveling out of the office for business can be exhausting. With flights to catch, meetings to coordinate and endless logistics to consider, there’s always a lot on one’s mind. It’s important that you’re able to focus and to give it everything you have onsite. You don’t need these important moments to be shadowed with worry as you wonder what’s going on back at the office or what your email looks like. Depend on your colleagues – they have your back! At least I know mine do.

Continue reading
in Event Management 1494 0
Rate this blog entry:


I recently cleaned out my closet and finally rid myself of all the branded shirts I had stashed away from conferences past. I was saving them, I guess, for an inevitable painting party or garden overhaul. I didn't plan to wear them again in public.

I’m sure I’m not the only one with mixed feelings on the subject. Receiving one of these goodies at conference registration is a nice gesture, but one I could just as well do without.

Some associations have a tradition of handing out shirts to all their conference attendees as a benefit of registration. Some love it; they collect them even! Others couldn’t care less.

From the view of the planner, a clothing give-away is a great way to grow excitement and brand the event beyond the conference. But, it’s a logistical challenge to select styles, collect sizes, and take a wild guess at quantities when placing the final order several weeks before registration closes.

Send your registrants on a shopping spree
For a recent global conference, here’s how AMPED found a way to make both registrants and our planners happy AND save our association partner loads of money in the process.

AMPED partnered with Lands’ End, a national clothing retailer to build an online store specifically for its association partner, the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA). In reality, it was the full Lands’ End catalog with a home page and URL branded for CSIA. Both the association and conference logos were preloaded on the site and ready for personalization.

Conference registrants were emailed individual Lands’ End voucher numbers several weeks before the conference and directed to the site. Here they could apply their voucher toward the “official” pre-selected conference shirt (the value of the voucher covered this and shipping) or toward hundreds of other items, paying the difference above the value of the voucher. Registrants could purchase any item they liked as long as it was branded with the association or conference logo. Their purchases were processed by Lands’ End and delivered directly to them before the conference.

Response to this new offering was overwhelmingly positive. Registrants enjoyed the option to personally select a shirt style (no more debates over long-sleeve, short-sleeve, golf, button-down, etc.), and planners could breathe easy knowing that everyone was happy with their styles and sizes.

Unexpectedly, the majority of vouchers were never cashed in. Only 40% of the registrants purchased clothing from the site, saving CSIA thousands of dollars that would have otherwise been spent on unwanted give-a-ways.

AMPED and the CSIA Board considered the initiative a huge success and look forward to doing it again in 2015.

Crowd fund your event attire
Maybe you’re a smaller nonprofit organization that wants to offer shirts for an upcoming event, but at no cost or risk to you. Enter the world of crowd funding. Sites such as help you leverage crowd funding and social media to sell your uniquely designed tees. Just design your shirt, name your price, and set a quantity goal and timeline. Then broadcast it via social media. If enough orders come in to reach your goal within the timeframe specified, the shirts get printed and shipped to the buyers. If not, all payments are canceled.

There’s a fund raising opportunity here, too. Price the shirts so that you make a profit above and beyond the base cost. The more you sell, the more you rake in – a great tool for churches and school groups.


Continue reading
in Event Management 1952 0
Rate this blog entry:

 low rez CSIA 2014-Day 1-4

It was another record-setting year for the Control System Integrators Association's 2014 Executive Conference,
in terms of attendance, sponsorship dollars and registrant satisfaction.

Summer at AMPED is an important time for building a strong foundation for our clients’ upcoming spring annual meetings. Although venue contracts are typically signed several years in advance, the meeting framework including detailed logistics and content is often identified a year before the event kicks off. While the big picture work of successfully planning a meeting is similar from client to client (preparing budgets, identifying speakers, securing AV, etc.), it is key to understand that each client is different and therefore every meeting is unique. Some groups are more adventurous and desire designated times for field trips and workshops. Others are family-oriented events, at which entertainment for spouses and guests must be arranged.

No matter the client's needs, AMPED has proven success in raising the bar in regard to increased registration numbers, sponsorship growth and positive attendee feedback, year after year. This starts with preparing the venue RFP and negotiating the contract and continues all the way through the execution of the live event.

Taking the time to get to know each client and understanding their current and future needs immensely improves the quality of the program. Spring of 2015 may seem like a long ways off, but any meeting expert knows is it right around the corner. Let the planning begin!

Continue reading
Tagged in: meetings
in Event Management 2983 0
Rate this blog entry: