Conference Centres Guide to Planning A Conference

Conference Centres Guide to Planning A Conference

We work with a lot of conference centres here at Conferences UK, and so we know that planning a conference requires not only data gathering but also a tremendous amount of forethought as well. If you have a large group, it may take up to two years to plan your even, but it is possible to plan a conference in twelve months if you make quick decisions. The reality of conference planning if you haven't done it before, is that you can waste a lot of time over-thinking every little decision and miss some of the most important details. In order to make this process a little simpler for first time conference organisers, we have pulled together this list of important steps you need to undertake. Think of it as a template to organising conferences - whether you be looking at meeting venues London or Glasgow. Step One: Crafting your conference vision Every successful event starts with a clear vision, but you will need to take action to turn your vision into reality- especially when it comes to measuring costs and making informed planning decisions. First things first, you need to start by nailing down your who, what, when, where and why. Step Two: Create your business plan Unless you are organising a conference that is being funded by a charity or grant, then you are going to need to create a plan which maps out where the money is coming from and what you are going to use it for. Knowing where the money is coming from and how much you have to spend is essential to know early on in the process. In order to put a price on your conference you need to know what you are going to offer attendees - your speaker line-up and itinerary are key selling factors for your attendees. Step Three: Comparing Venues After you have a clearer idea of when your conference will take place and how many people you want to attend it, you can then begin to look for an acceptable venue. Keep in mind that your venue selection will have an effect on your audio/visual and catering costs as well. This is because most conference centres will require you to use their in-house services for your event. You should also keep in mind that you will need to provide overnight accommodation for attendees who are traveling from outside the region. This need will add another level of complexity to your venue finding decision. Step Four: Recruiting Attendees Even the most well-known events need to market their event in order to make sure every place is filled. Attendance is the key to any events success as good attendance numbers will bring both revenue and sponsorship opportunities with them. The more people you have registered for your event, the more demand for advertising and participation openings you will see. If you can draw a crowd to your event then everything else will fall into place. However, the larger your event is the more difficult registration becomes. This is where an online registration system can come into play, helping you to track your numbers, process your payments and organise your data more easily. Step Five: On-Site Details So now you have organised the business elements of the conference, you need to start thinking about the on-site details. This includes things like how will your attendees navigate the conference, how you layout the rooms, and where will the food and beverages be distributed? This is the part of planning the conference that most people associate with event planning. The easiest way we have found to coordinate all of the details is to put yourself in your attendees shoes and picture how they will think and act on the day so that you can solve any potential problems before they arise. Step Six: Event Management Most conferences typically feature a convention floor or exhibition area where vendors rent a space in order to be able to promote their products. This can be a very lucrative opportunity for you if you organise it well. Keep in mind that an exhibition area will require a significant commitment by you in both resources and time so make sure you are well prepared to manage the needs of multiple vendors before you commit to this. Once you have followed all of these steps, you should plan to hold a pre-conference meeting with your chosen venue. A pre-con meeting is essentially the conference before the conference and should involve both the conference planner and the conference services manager from the venue. It is usually held a couple of days before the event, and is different to the walk-through. The pre-con meeting is a great opportunity for the event planner to review all final logistics for the event with the management team who will be involved on the day. It is typically scheduled by the venue's services manager and is a great way for everyone to establish a rapport with everyone involved. During the pre-con meeting you should make sure you highlight the key objectives of the event including who is hosting it, the key messages you want conveyed and who the important VIPs are. It is also a great time to review the event specifications, including all relevant details about the event itself. This may include dates, times, contacts, attendee profiles, food and beverages, emergency contacts, transportation, billing, audio/visual and so on. You should remember to ask detailed questions about the event specifications such as staffing levels and key contact names. You may also want to nail down: - Food and beverage requirements - Guest room requirements - Conference and exhibition requirements - Meeting room requirements - Technical requirements - Details about signage placement If you are planning a conference and are looking for the best conference centre for your needs - such as Aston conference centre - then please get in touch with Conferences UK today. We offer a free venue finding service that covers the whole of the UK.

Author: Gladys Requina

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