Welcome Wagon - 2003-05-01

At events and meetings, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Whether it's a convention for thousands or a meeting for a dozen, attendees will arrive by plane, train, or automobile. Regardless of mode of transportation, a warm welcome and assistance to the next destination help set the tone for your entire event.

One way to provide this welcome is through meet-and-greet services offered by destination management companies (DMCs). Here's how to make the most of these services.

How can I customize services to my event?

Make an even better impression on your client by tailoring your meet-and-greet services to your audience or the specific event. Consider these questions:

How large is your group? The size of your audience greatly impacts the mode of transportation. Carefully evaluate the group's size to best determine which type of vehicle -- limos, shuttles, or full-size buses -- will best meet their needs.

Who should have VIP service? Exceed the expectations of VIPs, event guests, and keynote speakers by arranging "important" transportation. For example, instead of arranging a shuttle transfer service for VIPs, pick them up in a limo. This will speak volumes about your company's image and willingness to go the extra mile.

What is your budget? Budget restrictions don't have to limit the "wow" factor of your meet-and-greet service. Consider integrating at least one high-impact option to your plan such as a horse-drawn carriage between the hotel and event site.

How do I make sure everything runs smoothly?

Here are some tips to keep in mind that will ensure your meet-and-greet services are flawless:

Keep your DMC informed. Provide the DMC with the client/attendee manifests in chronological order by arrival times and in an electronic format, such as a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. This minimizes the possibility of errors. Support chronology listing with an alphabetical client listing.

Communicate early and often. Forward client manifests early, even if they are not finalized. However, be sure to update your DMC on a regular basis, dating each version to avoid confusion.

Troubleshoot in advance. Inform the meet-and-greet service provider of any "problem children" or special client requests -- the sooner the better. Establish an emergency or after-hours phone number. Budget for an on-site standby vehicle to accommodate flight changes or cancellations.