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"Meetings & Events 101"
By Lynn Johnson & Robin Craven, Alliance LLC
Issue: 2000-OCT

     For the most part, meetings are congregations of individuals for a specific purpose - usually educational or business related. The word meeting implies "work" or "seriousness". An event, on the other hand, is a collection of people for a variety of purposes. Events are fun, social and interesting. Meetings frequently have events folded into them, but events rarely contain meetings.

     Here is a small sampling of events: Award Ceremonies, Auctions, Concerts, Fairs, Employee Picnics, Festivals, Fundraisers, Golf Outings, Groundbreaking Ceremonies, Holiday Parties, Political Rallies, Reunions, Road Shows, Sports Competitions, Theme Parties, & Tradeshows. Think about the things that these events have in common. Many are festive, special occasions that last a day or just maybe just a few hours. Of course, there are special events like the Olympics, county fairs, tradeshows or festivals that last many days. However, one thing is certain, no matter what your event size, it takes a lot of time and resources to organize it!

     There are a number of components that both meetings and events have in common. The primary components are: budgeting, developing timelines, food and beverage, marketing, setting goals and objectives, site selection, staffing, staging or A/V production, and working with vendors.

     However, events also include additional considerations that meetings usually do not have, especially if they are not held at a hotel, convention center or any other self-contained facility. If you take an event to a venue that is not designed for that purpose, such as a park, then you will need to plan for and bring in everything you need. Consider this (partial) list: alcohol sales/liquor permit, ambulance/medical aid, catering company, evacuation procedures, insurance - both you and all contractors, kids area/games for family events, local public relations, parking, permits, power, protection from inclement weather, public transportation stops and schedules, security, street closures, tables, chairs and staging, themes & decorations, toilets, traffic control, volunteer staffing, waste/trash removal.

     So, who are the people that create and produce events? Well, because of the similarities between meetings and events, meeting planners plan meetings and events. Event planners plan events and meetings. Large festivals, fairs and parades to name a few, often have Executive Directors and additional staff who do the planning. 

     You will find some professional planning companies that specialize in either meeting planning or event planning. They may define their specialization one step further by specializing in corporate events. So donít get confused about the difference between meetings and events. Youíll know an event when you see one.

Lynn Johnson & Robin Craven are the co-partners in Alliance LLC, a meetings management resource firm dedicated to educating meetings industry professionals about the resources available to do their job more efficiently and effectively.