Monthly Archives: June 2014

Conference and Seminar Tip: Management of a Vendor Exhibition at a Conference

Exhibitor Management

  • Before the conference and exhibition venue selection, consideration should have been made on how many exhibitors are expected and what size of exhibition hall or meeting room is appropriate.
  • Adequate space needs to be available for coffee breaks or if lunch is taking place in the exhibition area in order to encourage attendees to visit the exhibitors.
  • A site plan of the exhibition space looking at access for build-up and layout of stands must be created and made available for exhibitors. The plan should show details of services such as electrics, communications, with appropriate consideration for health and safety.
  • When selecting a venue consider any requirements for areas and rooms for communications, the exhibition manager’s office, and storage.
  • Prepare a preliminary budget, and finalise it once you have completed a final site visit. Review all costings and income involved.
  • Design and implement a website for the conference to incorporate a section for exhibitors with relevant on-line documentation specific to them as well as the usual section for attendees.
  • If required select an exhibition stand builder & designer for designing the exhibition floor layout, bearing in mind the conference theme and corporate branding.
  • Organise security and cleaning for exhibition area.
  • Review the budget throughout to make sure it is not being exceeded (an adequate contingency amount should have been incorporated at the outset).
  • Arrange in plenty of time for the shipment of items for exhibition.
  • You will need ongoing meetings with the venue management to detail what is going on in the exhibition area and timings and requirements etc.
  • Before the conference date the exhibitors should have already been sent detailed information, or had access to the website of exhibiting at the conference. This should include:
    • Location – hall or exhibition room with layout of stands and tables as well as coffee stations, lunch and bar or café locations, and networking facilities designated as appropriate, making sure that there is adequate space for exhibitors.
    • Application forms for exhibitors with costs of the various exhibitors’ packages detailing what is included in each one e.g. stand shell, or space or table, furniture, electrics. Also put this information on the conference website and make it available as a PDF file to download.
    • Details concerning internet access, communications, branding for corporate and sponsors to incorporate signage and conference theme.
    • If using shell schemes, details of what is included and ordering instructions for additional or optional items.
    • A contact list of the exhibition management as well as a contact list of exhibitors.
    • Supplier list from the venue with order form and deadline dates for ordering.
    • Exhibitors should be sent a timeline detailing the deadlines for actions to be completed before the exhibition.
    • Exhibition information including the times and dates of assembly & dismantling of stands, opening times of the exhibition etc.
    • Technical logistics information – exhibitor manual, important information & instructions.
    •  Health and Safety information and instructions about what is or is not allowed on-site, any loading restrictions etc.
    • Marketing promotions including: sponsorship items – promotional branding opportunities – exhibition manual with company profile – products and downloadable PDF files.
    • Accommodation information and booking information for exhibitors and staff.

On-site Management

  • Arrive in plenty of time, before the set up by stand building staff or when the hotel is involved in setting tables, meet with the venue and check state of room for any damage, make note and agree with venue management.
  • The exhibition manager needs to be on site for set up of exhibition stands and also during dismantling as well when exhibition is live.
  • Work closely with stand building staff or venue management making sure layout is according to plan and if necessary amend any site plans.
  • Work closely with exhibition stand designer & service suppliers make sure all is set up before exhibitors arrive on site to do their own set up.
  • Check on electrics and communications; have suppliers on call for any unexpected issues.
  • Set up the communications office, exhibition staff office, and storage area if required.
  • Liaise with exhibitors regarding storage and arrival of any freight for them.
  • If required attend exhibitors briefing meeting.
  • Be on hand and available to assist with any exhibitors queries.
  • On the final day make sure no exhibitor tears down before close of the exhibition.
  • Assist exhibitors with tear down and taking goods for collection.
  • Check room or hall is in the same condition and clear when leaving the venue.
  • Good communication, and keeping everyone who needs to know informed of what is happening, is paramount.
Advertisements

Conference On-Site Management of Speakers, Session Chairmen and Panel Moderators

Speaker Management

  • Before the conference the speakers should have already been sent out detailed information on the theme of the event.
  •  If you are using a celebrity speaker then they will have been chosen for relevance of their message or entertainment value. You will need to know in broad terms what they are going to say and what support material they are using. Check the script and make sure that the production company and speaker are aware of timings.
  • Speakers and moderators will have been sent information on their session, place, time, date, and audience profile- including their average age, interests, and knowledge. If the audience does not use English as their first language, the speaker should be aware of this and have been given guidance notes on speaking slowly and clearly. Hotel accommodation will have been booked as required. It’s advisable to book hotel rooms for speakers prior to an early morning presentation, to make sure they are on time, as well as organising transport for them to the venue. Their presentation should have been sent in advance in order to be downloaded or made available on the website after a conference or seminar, or as hard copy notes for a seminar or workshop. The Session Chairman should also be given a copy of the notes.
  • The speaker should have been sent joining instructions telling him the name of the meeting room and what Audio Visual (AV) and multimedia equipment will be set up and available in the presentation theatre or room.
  • A member of the conference staff should be allocated to meet and greet as well as look after the speaker whilst they are at the conference. The staff looking after the speaker should double check the meeting room before the speaker’s arrival to ensure that the AV set-up there is as requested by the speaker. Check to see if the speaker has any brochures or information he would like to put at the back of the room for delegates to take — arrange the display of such material as necessary.
  • A badge and speaker pack should be ready to give to the speaker when he or she registers. If you need to ask them a question about their presentation or give information when they register it can be useful to add Post-it notes to the speaker badge as an aide-mémoire.
  • Depending on the size of the conference, speakers and chairmen may have a separate registration area to delegates.
  • It is useful to designate badges for speakers of a different colour to that of the delegates to signify their role.
  • Larger conferences tend to have a specific speaker, chair and moderator hospitality room designated so that they have an area to relax, work and take coffee before a presentation. It is also useful to have some separate rehearsal rooms available for the speaker to practice if no specific rehearsal in the main meeting room has been scheduled before the event.
  • It is advisable for the speaker to visit the presentation room before their presentation to see the set-up and understand how the audio equipment works or meet the production company. If time is short then coffee or lunch breaks are often a good time in which to do this.
  • It is useful for the speaker to meet the chair of the session before the presentation to run through the format of the presentation and to understand the timings and the Question and Answer (Q&A) session.
  • Speakers are notorious for tweaking a presentation right up to the last moment so please ensure that the presentation slides are the latest both to be shown live during the session and to be downloaded onto the website after the event.

Session Chair Management

  • Much of the chairman management pre-event and on-site is similar to the speaker. They should have been sent joining instructions, and know the details of time and place of the session or stream they are chairing. Accommodation and transportation should have been ordered as required.
  • When the chair registers they should receive their chairman’s pack with their badge. This may include the name display sign for the speaker to be put on a name board of the top table if there is one for the session. They should also have a biography of the speaker so that they can introduce them at the start of the presentation, as well as an outline of the presentation and hard copy of the slides. It is most important that the chair keeps a sharp eye on the time so that the presentation starts on time and the speaker does not overrun.
  • The chairman should familiarise himself with the session room and be familiar with how to use the equipment and they should meet the AV production company who are running the session room.
  • The chair should introduce himself to the speaker before the session and go over the meeting timings and schedule, so that each person understands the goal of the session and how the audience is to be managed.
  • The chair will also manage the Q&A session as well as thanking the speaker on behalf of the audience at the end of the session.

Session Moderator

  • If a session is a panel discussion with moderator then again the on-site management is similar. The moderator should have been given additional information before the conference on the type of questions that he should be asking the panel in order to get the most informative response for the audience. The moderators are experienced through moderating other sessions as well as being very knowledgeable in the area of the discussions so that he can ask pertinent and poignant questions.
  • Good communication, and keeping everyone who needs to know informed of what is happening, is paramount.

Conference and Seminar Tip: Risk Assessment, Health and Safety, Insurance and Contingency Planning

Event management is much about managing risks as it is the event itself. Event Managers have to expect the unexpected and for this planning and preparation are the best tools. You need to have a contingency plan in place for various scenarios. The skill of an organiser is to negotiate the optimum solution in each scenario and finding what is best and safest for the client.

Risk assessment information can be gathered during the pre-event delegates registration and site visit to venue:

  • Each delegate should be asked details of their dietary requirements and any allergies, and medical conditions that you need to be aware of, as well as emergency contact and name of next of kin. If delegates are arriving from abroad then they must take out travel and health insurance.
  • You should arrange to have people on-site at the event who have first aid training. You need to know who they are. Check with the venue who they have who are first aid trained. If it is an outdoor event with a significant risk of personal injury have an ambulance in attendance, for example from St John’s Ambulance. If the event is residential then a note of a doctor on call with contact details, the nearest medical centre address and phone number, and the nearest hospital with address and phone number. The organiser should make the delegates aware of the emergency numbers.
  • During the venue site visit the venue should explain the procedure of what to do and where to assemble if a fire happens, or where the safest place to go is if there is a bomb scare etc. You also need to know if there is a fire alarm test during the event. Before the start of any meeting you should inform the delegates where the emergency exits are and where to assemble if an alarm be sounded. Special attention should be given before the event to any delegates with disability who may require assistance in the case of an emergency.

Measuring Risks as part of the Risk Assessment of an Event

  • Part of the planning process for any event is to assess the risk factors of the event and make sure you have implemented a process for managing each of the risks. The process should specify who is responsible for dealing with the risk and how it will be managed. Risk will vary in severity and likelihood and this will be different for different types of events and locations. See this document for an example: Risk Assessment form for a seminar with space to define contingency plans.

The Risk Assessment should include:

  • Hazards:these can include a missing person, loss or theft of property, catering and delegate’s diets, health and safety, travel and transport, site environments of both the meeting venue, accommodation and off-site venues plus general welfare.
  • Other items to be included in a risk assessment include: who might be harmed and how, the procedure and protocols to follow, how high the risk is, what further action needs to be carried out and who is responsible for the action and following the procedure through.

Event Insurance

Every event organised should have insurance cover. There are plenty of insurance companies that specifically cover events and you can choose the level of cover required. If participating as a third party at an event check the insurance of the organising company or venue.

Special Event Insurance is recommended to protect against the financial risk associated with organising or attending events. Cover includes Event Cancellation Insurance which protects against cancellation or postponement due to adverse weather, communicable diseases, volcanic ash cloud, terrorism and civil unrest.

Non Appearance Insurance covers non-appearance of key speakers at a conference, a band or singer at a concert. Event Liability Insurance covers Public Liability and Employers Liability and Event Property Insurance protects event organisers against damage or loss of owned or hired-in equipment. Event Property Insurance can cover marquees, audio-visual equipment, communication equipment and more.

Further information:

http://www.hse.gov.uk/event-safety/managing-an-event.htm

http://www.swale.gov.uk/events-risk-assessment/