As with any event the first step for conference planning is to ascertain what budget you will be working with. This is a crucial element in the organisational process and should be very specific. It is important to include all aspects of the event, from venue costs to contingency funding. Having a budget in place will help guide event organisers and ensure there is a financial limit to which you must adhere. A good event budgeting tool will enable you to carry out a break-even-analysis.
Select the date for your conference very carefully. Research your target audience and ensure that no other events that might appeal to them are taking place on the same day. However, choosing a date immediately before or after another similar conference in the same area, particularly if your conference is international in nature, could offer delegates the incentive to attend both events and may boost attendance. Check international bank holidays and avoid these. It might be useful to have more than one possible date in mind, which will help when securing a venue.
When considering a venue there are a number of things to think about. A location boasting good transport links is almost always essential. Any venue should be an adequate size for the number of attendees expected and have all the facilities you require for the conference to go ahead smoothly. Making a checklist of necessary services will help you to make the right decision. If you have engaged an event management company to assist with planning they may have agreements with numerous venues and be able offer you a good deal.
Networking is a big part of conferencing. However, securing well-known speakers with a current and interesting focus will also be very attractive to attendees. Try to organise this as early as possible in the planning process, as a prominent name will have a significant impact on marketing strategies.
Promotion should take place through several different channels, including industry publications, company website, industry websites, event listings and conference calendars. You may wish to invite various media to cover the conference, which could involve build up pieces, reviews and evaluation.
On the day of the conference it is important to have measures in place to avoid long queues at the registration stage. Using an online pre-registration tool can help reduce numbers checking-in on site and will also give organisers a clearer idea as to how many people are likely to turn up on the day. Electronic registration is a fast and efficient way to account for all delegates, as well as enabling organisers to easily capture and analyse data.
Always leave the venue clean and tidy. Ensure any rented equipment is returned undamaged and bills are settled in a timely fashion. Thank your speakers, volunteers and event staff.
As soon as possible following the conference it is a good idea to conduct an analysis. What went right, what went wrong and what lessons were learnt? Compare expenditure to the original budget and email speakers, staff and attendees, inviting them to provide feedback.