Paying the Bills

The meeting may be over, but the planner's work on it is not yet completed. There is still one duty to perform—the reconciliation. This is a fancy way of saying paying for the meeting. This can be a long, drawn out process, so it is important to have a strategy to manage it.

As usual, follow-up calls or e-mails with all the vendors to make sure that the invoices are on their way should be conducted. A good estimate to obtain all invoices is usually within 90 days.

You should always keep a detailed record of all charges while the meeting is going on so all the items can be tracked and accounted for. If this is done properly, by the time the reconciliation process begins you already know what your client can expect to see.

Reconciliations can be done in the same format that the budget is in so the client sees the estimated budget versus the actual costs and the variance, including an explanation of overages, if any.

Internally, your company probably has a policy or agreement with the client about charging labor overages. Nonetheless, all overages need to be tracked internally so the next budget can account for any issues. During the program, you may wish to list on your copy of the budget why certain things cost more than the estimated budget so that when it comes time for the reconciliation, you do not have to dig into your memory. If the overages are significant and your boss and client are aware of them in writing, the reconciliation process should not be that difficult—just time-consuming.

Dana Lynn Hornstein, CMP, has been planning domestic and international meetings for over 11 years. Ms. Hornstein also teaches contract law, negotiation, and pre-/post-conference management at Kean University in NJ. To contact her, e-mail [email protected] or call (973) 686-3436.