Author: Maria Beatriz Rosell
After some general tips for a more successful Horizon Europe kick-off meeting, we offer you logistics/organisation tips, as part II of this useful series created by our Senior Project Manager Maria Beatriz Rosell.
- Make a "to-do" list. When the date is approaching, it is good to create a to-do list; you will probably end up with multiple versions of it as issues emerge.
- Have a reasonable estimation of the number of participants. Encourage partners to come in pairs, as the project team of each organization should meet each other but also set a limit and a deadline. Having a good estimated number of participants will help you to start asking for offers from venues, caterers, or restaurants. In your repository, include an excel list and encourage partners to fill this table themselves.
- Venue: if the coordinator cannot hold the meeting at their premises (often the case), it is good to consider a public/academic institution that might benefit from the project results later. Usually, hotels offer more comfortable logistical arrangements for a coordinator, including lunch arrangements and coffee breaks, which is sometimes cheaper than organizing a lunch and coffee break separately with a catering company. However, if you have the opportunity to organise the meeting in a public organization, don't pass on that!
- Please follow the "best value for money" principle and no conflict of interest rules. Get at least three offers (sometimes, you have to contact at least ten different venues to get three decent offers). Additionally, consider the location and accessibility of the potential venues. Check the reviews online.
- Visit the venue before signing a contract. Sometimes pictures or videos of conference halls can be deceiving. You need to visit the venue offering you the cheapest deal to realize why you need to choose the one in the "middle price range" and not the cheapest that includes a "funny smell" or a dirty carpet. So, before you sign on the dotted line, go and have a good look around! This visit will allow you to ask about important details like acoustics (a soundproof room may be necessary) and whether there are different room options. Ask about echo/street noise and whether there is a risk of the sounds from the other meeting rooms colliding with yours.
Final venue visit: Visit the venue one more time one or two days before the meeting. Test the equipment and projector (if you are using your laptop, ensure you have the proper cables/adaptors, etc.). Take most of the things you need for the meeting (printed batches, table tags, laptops, etc.). Save presentations in three different places (laptop, pen drives, external hard drive)
- Microphones: there is a possibility that the room they offer is narrow and long and that you will have to use microphones; in that case, make sure you have at least three microphones to avoid losing time passing the microphone around. If the room offers stationary table microphones, then consider the price difference. If you need partners to engage in discussions actively, consider an offer with multiple microphones or purchasing/renting 3-4 microphones.
- Project dinner: the same rule as for the venue. Please follow the "best value for money" and "no conflict of interest" rules. Remember that you are using the taxpayers' money to organize this event. Try to negotiate a price per person, pay at the end (second half) based on the final number of plates, and avoid an agreement on a fixed amount of dishes for the project dinner. Check online reviews of the restaurant options.
- Check the options of service providers and decide in advance about printing material. For example, it would be best if you avoided printing the agenda and list of participants. Still, for the kick-off meeting, it is important to print nametags (stickers are more sustainable than name tags with plastic cases and lanyards) so everybody knows who everybody is. You can contact service providers even if you do not yet have the final list of participants, find options at least one month in advance and ask for their conditions (deadline to send final lists, etc.).
- Make sure to have good access to the meeting room; if it does not have easy access, then make sure the hotel has signs so people get to the room quickly.
- If your project involves stakeholder engagement, consider organising a back-to-back quick launch event so that people you need to contact in the future are already informed about your project. Notice that the organisation of this "smaller"/back-to-back event might be even more demanding than organizing the kick-off itself, as participants are not required to attend it, and you can end up ordering food/services.
Before organising your kick-off, you will probably need to go through a lot of paperwork. But, we have you covered! Let us help you start your new Horizon Europe project smoothly, join our webinar Get it right! From Grant Agreement to Periodic Reporting!