Putting together a citywide convention that costs millions of dollars and draws thousands of attendees and exhibitors takes lots of experience and expertise. Angela Persinger, president of San Francisco-based Contract Hotels and the specialist behind O’Reilly Media’s citywide conference agreements for more than 20 years, has seen just about everything that can go right and wrong. “I’m proud to say that I’ve negotiated every venue contract for O’Reilly since the first, beginning back in the 1990s, at countless worldwide destinations,” she says. Here are some of her pointers for making sure the plan starts right and stays in place.
It’s never too early to plan.
For citywides, Persinger says planning usually begins on average at least two years out. Convention centers today are selling up to 10 years out, and most of these large events have certain months or weeks each year that their audience expects their event to happen, so securing those spots is critical.
Take many more notes than usual.
Pre-meeting research for citywides involves keeping copious post-convention data from past events and getting feedback from attendees as well as affiliate partners before, during and following the event.
Think of everything.
Once you choose your city, customize a request for proposal. “It typically has countless unique contract-clause stipulations specific to the organization hosting, along with years of post-con data to substantiate every single area of financial gain the city and hosting venue would expect to receive by way of your event,” says Persinger.