Planning your event from start to finish requires a tremendous amount of forethought and data gathering. The entire process can take several months or even years depending on the size of the conference.
The reality of planning a conference is that without any experience — you can waste a lot of time considering the wrong things, over-thinking each little detail and completely missing the most important issues for a successful event!
So, to make the process easy for first-timers, I have gathered the most important steps on each particular subject. The result here is to provide easy steps that will help you get started.
Step 1: What’s Your Vision for Your Conference?
You’ll want to start your planning by envisioning how it will unfold as you see it, but you’ll need to transform your vision into words and numbers to measure costs and make informed planning decisions. First, you need to start with the basics like who, what, when, where and why.
Step 2: Develop Your Plan
You are going to want to map out every aspect of your event. Things like - where your money is coming from and what it is being used for. The first part of this equation - the revenue, should be calculated early in the planning process.
Now, in order to put a price on a conference, you need to have an idea of what you plan to offer attendees. Your itinerary and speaker lineup will be the selling factor for potential registrants.
You can use this checklist as a template: Planning Checklist
Step 3: Selecting and Comparing Venues and their Services
After you have a more specific idea about when your conference will take place and how many people you want to attend, you can then begin to shop for an appropriate venue. Keep in mind that your venue selection will also determine your catering and audio/visual costs. This is because most conference centers and event hotels require you to use their in-house services for any on-site events.
Most events will need to provide some sort of overnight accommodations for guests traveling from outside the region. This necessity creates another set of considerations to factor into your venue decision.
Step 4: Attracting and Managing Registrants
Even the most popular events must effectively market their members to fill every seat in the house. Attendance is the single most important factor to the success of your event. Good attendance numbers bring revenue and sponsorship opportunities. And the more people you have registered will create more demand for advertising and participation openings.
Long story short, if you can draw a crowd then everything else will fall into place much easier.
Managing registration becomes more difficult as your event grows in size. This is where an online registration system can help you track number, process payments, and organize data.
Much of these details can be tracked and managed with an event app. Find out more about event apps: Event Apps
Step 5: Planning On-Site Details
So, after organizing and implementing the business elements of your event, you can begin to think about the on-site details. This includes how attendees will navigate the conference, the general layout of each room, and the delivery of food and beverages.
This is the part of planning a conference that most people associate with event planning. The best way to coordinate all of the details is to walk through your itinerary as your guests would. Picture how they will think and act at each point in the day to solve problems before they arise.
Step 6: Exhibition Management Tips
Events typically feature an exhibition area or convention floor where sponsors and vendors rent space to promote their products. This can be a very lucrative opportunity for your conference if you organize everything well. Keep in mind though that an exhibition area will require a significant commitment in both time and resources, so make sure you are prepared to manage the needs of multiple vendors before you commit to this format.
Have questions? Contact Me and I can explain your options and make recommendations.
Stephen Ing has over 19 years of on-property hospitality industry experience. He has achieved numerous sales recognition awards including the 2005 Sales Incentive Award; was a Starwood two-time Platinum Award winner and was named 2010 International Top producer for Hilton Worldwide.