How to Plan and Host a TML Regional Meeting
Planning a TML regional meeting can be a daunting task for any city, but with a few helpful hints, it can be an easy task and provides the host city with the opportunity to showcase the best of your city.
One of the most important functions of each TML region is to provide quality educational programs for the cities in the region. A series of good programs will build regional meeting attendance and increase the opportunities for sharing and networking among the cities in your region.
This checklist is meant to serve as a guide and does not limit your region to doing only what is suggested. Please remember that the League staff can help in any number of ways to make your regional meeting a success.
Selecting a Location for your Meeting
Regional meetings are held in facilities of every description, including country clubs, fraternal lodges, civic centers, city halls, auditoriums, restaurants, and outdoor pavilions. The facility selected should be easy for visitors to your city to locate and should have adequate parking accommodations.
Setting a Date
Some regions pick the date for the next meeting at the conclusion of the previous regional meeting. This allows for everyone to make plans for attendance well in advance. Texas city officials are busy people and as much advance notice as possible should be given.
Most regions hold their meetings on Tuesdays, Thursdays, or Fridays. When selecting a date, it is good to remember that many city councils conduct their meetings on Thursday. The League can provide you with information on the schedules of city council meetings in your region.
Planning the Agenda
The host city should coordinate the meeting agenda with the officers of the region. Some regions allow the host city to make all of the arrangements, including planning the program. Other regions prefer to have the host city work with the regional officers to plan the meeting.
Many regions have begun providing more substantive programs to help busy city officials justify the travel time and effort to attend the regional meeting. A good host city should consider afternoon workshops (see section below) or tours of new city facilities to encourage good attendance.
Afternoon Workshop Programming
City officials enjoy and want to have more training opportunities available to them on a regional level. TML encourages regions to offer afternoon workshops on topics of interest to those in attendance. The workshops are usually held in the late afternoon, just preceding the evening regional activities. One or more workshops can be offered simultaneously depending on the space available in the facility where the meeting is being held. It is suggested that the workshops be approximately one to two hours in length and provide the chance for city officials to ask questions at the conclusion of the workshop.
A popular afternoon workshop is a facilitated roundtable discussion session. Topics can vary from table to table and regional officers or your councilmembers or city staff can serve as table facilitators.
To assist a host city or a regional officer in arranging for afternoon workshops, the League can provide you with suggestions for workshop topics, speaker names, and phone numbers. In addition, the League staff will help you contact and arrange for afternoon workshop programs.
If one or more afternoon workshops are to be offered at the regional meeting, careful consideration should be given to the length of the evening program. Many city officials have traveled a considerable distance to attend the meeting and it is in the best interest of all involved to organize an evening program that is not lengthy. It is important to take into consideration all of the activities of the regional meeting when setting the agenda. A brief welcome by a representative of the host city, followed by an invocation, introduction of the headtable, regional roll call of cities, and business meeting can add a considerable amount of time to a program.
Evening presentations should be informative in nature and relevant to those in attendance. Having entertainment as the main feature of a regional meeting is not recommended. Again, as with afternoon workshops, the League office can assist the host city in securing a quality presentation for the evening program.
Once your agenda is set, attention should be given to the logistics of the meeting. The host city should consult with the facility selected to arrange for catering services, adequate seating, and any other special needs the program may require.
Again, consideration should be given to timing of the event. While a buffet dinner may be the best route for the evening meal, the time people spend in line waiting to get their food should be considered. Discuss this concern with your catering provider. When finalizing your menu and the costs, make sure that the catering includes all service fees. This will help you set the cost of the regional meeting.
Once the host city has set the date, selected a location, planned the program, and confirmed the necessary logistical arrangements, meeting notices can be mailed and e-mailed.
Meeting notices vary from region to region. In some regions, the host city will send out the notice of the meeting. In other regions, the regional officers (typically regional secretary) will send out the notice. It is best to coordinate these responsibilities with the regional officers.
It is suggested that meeting notices be sent at least three weeks in advance. At a minimum, meeting notices should be sent to each mayor, councilmember, city manager/administrator, and city secretary/clerk in the TML member cities within the region. The League office can provide mailing labels for these meeting notices at no charge. Expanded or customized mailing lists are also available. Please include Rachael Pitts at the TML office with a copy of your meeting notice.
In addition, the League can e-mail your notice or send out reminders about the meeting. We don’t recommend relying solely on e-mailed notices since some cities and their city officials don’t have e-mail addresses. To arrange for a “blast e-mail” for your regional meeting, contact Rachael Pitts at the TML office.
The meeting notice should contain complete details of the meeting, including day, date and time, location and driving directions, a description of the afternoon workshops and evening program, and most importantly, a registration form. Sample registration forms are available from the League office.
Regional Meeting Costs
A good host city takes into consideration all of the costs associated with hosting a meeting. While it is best to keep the cost of the meeting as reasonable as possible, the region and the city hosting the meeting should not incur any costs associated with hosting the meeting. You should take into consideration costs associated with printing the meeting notices, postage for mailing the notices, the total cost of the evening meal, social hour, and any refreshments provided during the afternoon workshops. It is usually helpful to ask city officials to include advance payment with their registration form. A no-refund policy is also advised. Even if someone does not attend the meeting, you will incur costs when planning for their attendance.
Some host cities have found it beneficial to contact local businesses, law firms, engineering firms, utility companies, and others to inquire about sponsorship of the regional meeting. A host city should be careful in making these contacts, but many times these businesses are eager to receive recognition for helping the cities they serve.
It is always best to double check your arrangements a day or two prior to the meeting. Even in the best situations, you will have some small snafus on meeting day. The most important thing to remember, relax and enjoy showing your city to your peers. These visitors appreciate your efforts and will leave your city impressed by your hospitality.
And remember, the League is always willing to help regional officers and host cities to plan and host a great regional meeting.