The Conferences UK Guide to Planning a Conference

The Conferences UK Guide to Planning a Conference

We've been providing a free conference venue finding service long enough to know that planning a conference is no easy task. We can find you the perfect space for your conference, whether it be a Cotswold conference centre or something more urban, but the actual pulling together of the conference itself is down to you.

We've tried to help event planners out though, by pulling together this brief guide to planning a conference:

#1 Decide on your theme

Deciding on your theme is a vital first step for any conference planner, as it will be the thing that guides everything you and your team do and it will be the thing that conference attendees remember long after the event has finished. This means that your chosen theme needs to be inspiring and memorable - so make sure you can communicate it one sentence.

#2 Plan your delegates journey

Now we don't mean the journey they will take to get to the conference, although ensuring the venue you choose has good transport links such as the Edinburgh conference centre is always a good idea. No, when we talk about delegate journey in this context, we mean making sure your delegates have a comfortable and memorable experience.

Most conferences are made up of a series of touchpoints that can make or break the experience of your delegates. These touchpoints include transport, accommodation, food, technology, signage and so on. Every touchpoint, or step in the journey, should reinforce both your theme and the overall goal of the event.

#3 Pick a date, choose your venue and set a budget

Some people try and do these one at a time, but it is best if you can make decisions on all of them together so that you avoid any last-minute issues such as your chosen venue not being available on your required date. We will always offer you a range of venues for your preferred date so that you are covered if there is a change of plans.

#4 Book the right venue

Most companies do not have the space required to host the conference themselves in the house, and so you will need to look for the right venue to suit your needs. Obviously, we can help you with that, but some of the things you will need to keep in mind are:

-Does your choice of venue accommodate all of your delegates without them having to squash in or need to shout to be heard? You want to ensure that if you have a particular seating arrangement in mind as well, that this will be doable in the space.

- Is your chosen venue close to good transport links, such as the airport or train station, with easy access for taxis and so on.

- Do you need any particular type of technology on-site for the conference to work? If the venue does not have the IT or audio equipment you need then you may need to provide your own.

- Make sure the ambiance of the venue and the amenities available fit in with the theme of your event. Many venues are customisable, so don't be afraid to ask if you can have a walkthrough beforehand or even do a dry run to see what it will be like.

#5 Arrange services and people

If you need speakers, AV specialists or caterers then try and book them as far in advance as you can, and keep an open communication channel with them during the entire planning process, as things will probably change as time goes on.

#6 Plan your agenda

This can be an extremely complicated part of the conference planning process, or an easy one, depending on the length of time the conference is planned to last for, how much content you want to pack into it and how many people are attending.

- Opening address. Your opening address should set the scene, welcome delegates to the event and get the key points of the agenda in everyone's mind.

- Plan time in blocks. Plan the day in blocks of one or two hours to make sure you have enough time on a particular topic to make some headway without allowing delegates minds to wander. Don't schedule anything important just before or just after lunch as it can be hard for delegates to concentrate.

These are just some basic ideas for you to help you to host a successful conference. The team at Conferences UK can help you with the venue finding part of this, as we offer a free venue finding service, covering everything from meeting rooms Glasgow to meeting room London.

Author: Gladys Requina

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