Dear Event Doctor:

I am the key host city contact to an organizer that is bringing an event here in three years. How much is too much communication in these first years leading up to the event? We find ourselves with a number of questions but don’t want to overburden the organizer with minutiae at this point. Is there such a thing as too much communication?

—Talk Too Much

Dear Talk:

You probably never expected me to say this, but, yes, there is such a thing as too much communication—at least in the beginning. The organizers of annual events are no doubt excited about being in your city in three years, but they are more focused on the next event on the schedule, and the one after that.

Make sure the time you spend with the organizer is strategically invested. Arrange a meeting with the event organizers shortly after the event is awarded to orient yourself to their planning calendar. Schedule regular meetings or calls and develop agendas that demonstrate to the organizer that the issues being discussed will be pertinent and time-sensitive. Develop your own calendar of critical dates in advance of planning the meetings. Try to determine what the city needs to do and when, driven by deadlines like holds on hotel rooms and venues, city budget and legislative calendars, elections, construction lead-times and more. Representatives from your city might want to attend stagings of the event in other cities before your own edition takes place. You might even offer to participate in the postmortem evaluations that follow those events, or conduct your own. Schedule time with past host cities to gain an understanding of how the event is planned—you may learn more about what is ahead from them than from the organizer during the earliest stages of preparation.

Complex events often do start active planning three years ahead of time, while others require half that time. Understanding the culture of the organization whose event you are hosting can help ensure that the time spent by both parties on communicating and planning is optimally efficient.

This first appeared in Sports Travel Magazine and appears here courtesy of SCHNEIDER PUBLISHING COMPANY, INC.