Johanna Palmer http://www.cheltenhampark-hotel.co.uk 4m 1,005
The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Conference Organising Tips
Conferences are a great way to meet new people, learn new skills and strengthen relationships with your existing contacts. Unfortunately you can’t decide to host a conference and expect everything to land in your lap; like all good things, you need to work in order to ensure it is a success.
That said, getting the most out of your conference does not need to be difficult. Here are some of the hottest tips to ensure attendees come away with a smile on their face, new thoughts in their minds and business cards in their pockets:
Pick the Right Location
This may sound obvious, and that’s because it is. For example, if you’re hosting a conference aimed at local Cheltenham businesses then you need to book conference rooms in Cheltenham. By having a location that suits the majority of attendees you can almost guarantee a stronger turn out from your key demographic than if they had to travel far and wide to get there.
Tying closely into this point is access – people will need to be able to get to the venue, whether that’s by car, train, taxi or even plane. The easier it is to get to and find the venue, the more you reduce the risk of people getting lost on the day or being put off by the trip.
Knowing who is going to be at your conference is essential. Allowing businesses and professionals to pre-register means that you are able to drum up bigger attendance as a result. Individuals always have an agenda when attending events and if they see that they have great networking opportunities at your conference then they are much more likely to go.
As the organiser, you’ll also find this beneficial as it allows you to have a good understanding of the number of people in attendance prior to the day. Similarly, this will allow you to highlight the key delegates and provide them with additional facilities to make their visit more beneficial. You could also set aside individual rooms for one-on-one networking, allowing for scheduled private conversations to take place aside from the hustle and bustle of the conference. By using meeting rooms in Cheltenham in addition to the main conference space, you are able to provide guests with a space for smaller get-togethers, chats or presentations that add to the overall conference experience.
Create an Agenda
What’s happening when and where? If you don’t have a pre-planned agenda then expect a lot of confused guests, plenty of questions and conference chaos. This can be easily avoided by simply arranging the day in advance – try segmenting talks to 40 minute slots, allocating times for refreshments and dividing the space you have into hot spots for key uses – i.e. coffee zone, networking area, main presentation stage, etc.
When you have chosen the individuals and companies who will be presenting at the conference, decide on the order that they will present in and create a standard template to follow. A template is good for guests, as it provides them with a structure for each talk that can be easily followed and lets them know how much time they need to allocate out of the day for it.
In order to get delegates to attend the event you will need to promote it in as many ways as possible. Social media, industry news and publications, your company blog and newsletter, and advertisements are great ways to get the word out about your conference. If you have a good mailing list, email marketing is another avenue you can go down to increase awareness – this can also be used to announce the agenda, speakers and ‘big names’ that have pre-registered.
Prepare Your Tech in Advance
Technology is a wonderful thing… when it works. Sadly, this is one of the things that can ruin your conference if it decides not to work on the day. Most venues understand this and will let you set everything up in advance and give you a dress rehearsal to ensure everything is as smooth as possible.
Along similar lines to this point, don’t be afraid to embrace technology. Not only will this make the handling of your event easier, you are also able to gain a much greater analytical advantage. For example, encouraging people to use a hashtag or use a conference engagement app like DoubleDutch will give you a huge amount of data that would otherwise not be seen. This information will make planning your next conference much easier by taking a lot of the guest work out of it.
Is there Accommodation?
While this may not be strictly necessary if you’re planning a conference to target local people and businesses, having accommodation on hand can still be extremely beneficial – especially if there is alcohol available. However, if you’re planning on running a multiple-day event or wish to attract attendees from across the country then accommodation is essential, ideally at the event itself.
Stick to Budget
Last, but by no means least, is budget. Having an effective budget is absolutely crucial if you want your conference to be a success. Before doing anything you need to see how much money you can allocate to venue, technology, gift packages, speaker’s fees, refreshments and other costs you may accrue.
Keeping some money in reserve for unforeseen costs is not only good practice to ensure that everything is covered, but if it isn’t needed then it can simply be added to the conference’s profit. Alternatively, this contingency cash could be put towards any future events you may wish to plan following the success of this one.
About the Author
Johanna Palmer is the Meeting and Events Manager at Cheltenham Park Hotel, so she know a thing or two about arranging a conference. If you’re looking for conference rooms in Cheltenham, then get in touch with Johanna today to find out more about the facilities available at this prestigious venue.