Do you have a good plan and does it cover all the work that needs to be done in advance?
One of the first tasks is to develop a plan for handling logistics and organisation. A useful exercise to do in this regard is to draw up a logistics chain, working back from a meeting so that you know when you need to do what. Some of the key tasks are set out below, based on practice in the CMC.
6-9 MONTHS BEFORE
- Undertake 1st or 2nd advance mission
- Identify and select hotel and main venues
4-6 MONTHS BEFORE
- Finalise and sign contract with hotels/venues
3 MONTHS BEFORE
Send initial memorandum to participants including:
- Hotel booking procedure and provisional agenda
- Details of sponsorship programme with a deadline of at least two weeks for sponsorship applications; internal approval requires usually two weeks so all applicants are notified two weeks after the application deadline
2 MONTHS BEFORE
- Each participant requiring a visa needs to start the visa process at embassies and begin booking flights
2 MONTHS BEFORE AND ONGOING TO THE DATE OF THE MEETING
- Follow up with participants on their official registration. This will depend on the host and usually remains open until the meeting begins × From two months before the meeting until it starts, there will be a constant stream of demands on those individuals doing the organising for the coalition, covering the whole range of areas described in this section
Based on planning documents developed by Isabelle Wipperman, Operations Officer, CMC
Trips taken by coalition organisers to the host country of an international conference are usually well worth the time and money spent. Seeing things first-hand allows you to identify many obstacles and potential pitfalls that
may not have been apparent at a distance. Accessibility of accommodation, transport and venues can be very difficult to ensure unless the situation has been seen first-hand.
Such missions can also allow staff to identify opportunities that may not have been considered previously. It provides an opportunity to build relationships with key people in the host country, from the government, from international organisations, local civil society, embassies, media and others.
During periods when everyone is under pressure and tension starts to mount, the strength of your relationships with host governments and local partner organisations may determine your capacity to deal with problems facing the coalition. So the more time available to establish strong relations with these partners in country, the better. Advance visits from the international coalition can also help to build up local coalition partners; sometimes the very fact that international visitors have taken the time to come and visit will help establish the credentials of local partners. Good dialogue with local partners is very important to ensuring such missions are effective and supportive of people on the ground.
Such a table can be made much more detailed by including all of the items that need to be considered for logistics and organisation.
A useful way to think about logistics for a coalition is to think about what you would need to know if you were a participant, for example what to expect when you arrive at the meeting, where do you need to be when and how will you get there? In this regard, it is always preferable to be able to test systems in advance and have strong partners in the place where the meeting is being organised.