Category Archives: How To Run A Conference

First things to consider when producing a memorable small business event

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When organising a small business event much of the time is spent in the planning of that event whether it is a workshop, seminar, small exhibition with speakers, and your events success is all down to the planning and in the details.

First decide upon your target Audience:  You need to define who your target audience is.  This will be the start for all your other decisions, such as format, content, price and location etc..  Being structured will enable you to stay focused on achieving your goals.

Have a clear business purpose for holding your event:  You have to be clear on why you are doing this event, as every decision will support your mail goal:

  • Is it a medium for passing on information, educating your market
  • New products or services release
  • Create brand awareness
  • A way to meet new customers/prospects and gather sales leads
  • PR opportunity, a way to make customers feel important build on loyalty
  • Involve third party vendors and resellers, strengthening business alliances

Create SMART goals:  always start with strategy; this will need to be measurable.  You need to know what is you are trying to achieve, outline what you are aiming for, then make sure that you follow this through to enable you to reach your goals.

Check other industry event when they are scheduled:  Check the calendar for dates, no bank holidays, or school holidays etc..   Check other events that your target audience might be interested in attending.

Know your budget:  Know how you are going to pay for the event.  The cost will depend on the number of attendees you will have.  Is the event funded by sponsorship, ticket sales, collaboration with other companies?  You will need to create a budget before looking for a venue.  Remember to add all expenses not just the meeting room such as food and beverage, audio visual etc..

Decide on type of venue for the event:  Know your event size, location, how easy is it for your attendees to get to this venue?  You may have to be flexible on this depending on availability and how the event may change in size.

Make a checklist of the details:  The checklist needs to contain everything you are planning for the event.  Are you are going to do all this your-self, or just certain parts? Event management logistics that needs to be considered include:

  • Programme content of the event
  • Putting together a Gantt chart showing time lines with action points, responsibility and critical dates
  • Marketing the event – the invitation process to include attendee invitation and registration
  • Registration management – client lists
  • Venue liaison to include:
    Room set up
    Audio Visual requirements
    Food and beverage
    Running order for breaks, luncheon, reception
    Logistics of getting materials to the conference venue
  • Speaker management including co-ordination of speakers, presentation, hand outs
  • Production of delegate documentation including delegate packs and badges

The organisation of an event is a project planning process.  Like all projects it will grow and develop and you have to be flexible but still keep your eye on the ball as with all events that are going to happen at a certain time and all has to be ready and in place for this time.  Checking and re-checking is so important to make sure that you have covered as many eventualities.  Remember your events success is in the details.

 

Tips on how your marketing plan can help you succeed in exhibiting

To be successful exhibiting at a trade show one of the most important actions after deciding to exhibit is to prepare a Trade Show Marketing Plan. You need to know what you want to accomplish and how to achieve it. A marketing plan helps you establish the strategy and decide what actions are required for you to exhibit and how to communicate this to others. It helps you to target decisions and it keeps you on track.

What is a Trade Show Marketing Plan?

A Trade Show Marketing Plan is the end result of a process. It gives you a format to follow and allow you to be consistent. The Plan should include:

  • An analysis of the market environment
  • The development of the exhibition plan
  • Writing an executive summary

 Market Analysis

Marketing analysis forms the basis for creating the goals, strategies and tactics used to develop the plan. This consists of your understanding of:

  • The market environment
  • The customers
  • The competition
  • The company

Information for a market analysis can be found on the internet, in trade journals and company reports, through direct customer research, by speaking to internal managers and sales people within your company, and by compiling a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis report.

 Market Environment

  • Look at the market as a whole and seek to understand the dynamics that can impact the company and its products
  • Examine the company’s market share and get a statistical evaluation of the market

 Understand your Customers

You need to understand why customers buy your products or services so that you can create an environment that encourages the behaviour outcome you would like from the exhibition.

This can include:

  • Demographics – the statistical characteristics of your customers
  • Psychographics – understanding the lifestyle and personalities of your customers
  • Buying patterns and preferences
  • Environmental influences

 Competitive Analysis

Consideration should be given to your own company as well as its competition. Use a SWOT analysis, speak to the sales personnel of your company and use post-show evaluations.

In the competitive analysis include all the questions you need to have answered regarding the exhibition such as:

  • Current exhibition strategy and trend
  • Size of space occupied
  • Style and theme of exhibit
  • Graphic message
  • Staffing levels
  • Lead capture and follow up
  • Pre & post show promotions

You also need to examine competitive positions outside the trade show environment.

After collecting and understanding the market analysis you then need to set the strategy and decide how you will accomplish your goals.

The Trade Show Marketing Plan should include

  • Market analysis – include the key findings from your study
  • Marketing objectives for the trade show. You can link the trade show programme to wider corporate marketing objectives. These need to be measurable and can include:
    • Who will be attending
    • What is the purpose of the exhibition
    • When are the dates of the exhibition
    • Where is the location of the exhibition
    • Why – define the objectives and purpose for attending
  • Marketing strategies – how you are going to accomplish your goals
  • Action plans – what are the tactics you will undertake to carry out your strategies
  • Resources and timings – what do you need to carry out the plan in the timescale
  • Executive summary – summarise the above elements as a distillation of your plan so that you can communicate it to senior management

Once you have written the Trade Show Marketing Plan, check that it is in line with your other marketing mix plans. Ensure you refer back to the Plan to make sure that you are fulfilling your strategy, objectives and actions. The Plan can be used at the end of the exhibition to review your return on investment.

Reference: Jim Burch, How to Write a Trade Show Marketing Plan You Can Actually Use

Tips on running a successful conference: Setting Objectives for Return on Investment

The previous blogs we reviewed the corporate reasons for having a conference, and how to plan and market a successful conference. There can be many business reasons why a company should consider having a conference, not least that events are an important part of the marketing mix. In this blog we will review the setting of Return on Investment (ROI) objectives, incorporating different levels of ROI Methodology used to measure ROI of an event

The ROI Methodology used for the planning of meetings and events was first developed by Donald Kirkpatrick in an academic paper in 1959 which suggested a model with four levels. These were satisfaction, learning, behaviour and impact (or results). Jack Phillips added ROI as a fifth level to the model in the 1980s as part of making it more practically applicable.

ROI is another way of expressing the contribution to profit made by an event. The profit is the net value created by the event minus the event costs. ROI is the profit expressed as a percentage of the cost of the event.

Planning and Measurement

Six Levels of Objectives and Evaluation

Level 5 – ROI

Level 4 – Impact

Level 3 – Behaviour

Level 2 – Learning

Level 1 Satisfaction & Learning Environment

Level 0 – Target Audience

In order to be useful the ROI of an event needs to be measured, monitored and compared with that of other investments to ensure that spending money has created value. The most important application of the ROI Methodology is in the planning of meeting and events to deliver the best outcome.

  • There must be clear measurable objectives for the event otherwise measurement is meaningless.
  • You cannot measure the value of an event without specifying the objectives of the various stakeholders for the event, the meeting owner and the budget holder.
  • Objectives are set for the desired ROI or profit from the event, its contribution to the stakeholders
  • The objectives cascade down from level 5 to the lowest level which is the target audience. The Behavioural Objectives derive from the Impact objectives and so on.

 

Impact Objectives:

The business impact is the ultimate value contribution of the event to its stakeholders, and is used for ROI calculations. For a customer event this could be product sales while for an internal event it could be and improvement in organisational effectiveness.

Behaviour Objectives

  • What do the participants need to do during and after the event in order to create value for stakeholders?
  • This could be to purchase a product or it could be to ask for more information, share knowledge with colleagues, or investigate alternative solutions.
  • The behaviour change may be to take some new action, or do things differently as a result of attending the event.

 

Learning Objectives

  • Learning is required for participants to change their behaviour. This might be subconscious learning but there has to be some kind of change in the mind of the attendee before behaviour change can result.

 

Satisfaction and Learning Environmental Objectives

  • How can we design a learning environment which will make a change in the attendee’s behaviour? Learning is influenced by the state of mind of the learner as well as environmental factors such as room temperature and the quality of the speaker.

 

Target Audience Objectives

  • You need to have the right people attending the event so that they can apply what they have learnt to the benefit of the stakeholder. They are learning something new which will change their behaviour so you need to target the appropriate audience for the behaviour change.

 

By setting clear objectives for each level of the model you can focus your planning on achieving those objectives and as a result you can get the greatest possible return for the investment in the event.

The process of setting objectives starts from the top and cascades down, whereas the measurement of the attainment of the objectives starts at level zero and works upwards to the top.

The next tips blog will outline the measurement of objectives through the different levels to produce a measure of the ROI of the event

For further reading about ROI for events visit

  1. roiinstitute.net
  2. eventroi.org/methodology

 

 

Conference and Seminar Tips: Review and follow up of a conference

The previous blogs reviewed the corporate reasons for having a conference, and how to plan and market a successful conference. There can be many business reasons why a company should consider having a conference, not least that events are an important part of the marketing mix. In this section, we will review the follow up after the conference is finished.

Review of a Conference

  • Whilst on-site at the end of the conference you should organise a meeting with the venue to review how well the conference has gone, particularly with reference to the services the venue has provided and where these can be improved:
    • Audio visual hire
    • Room set up and services
    • Food and beverage
    • Accommodation
    • Venue staff service such as reception, responding to requests, helpfulness etc.
  • Where delegates pay to attend the conference it is worthwhile doing a review of the no-shows to try and ascertain why they did not attend. This can help in determining how best to market future events and how to improve the following up of delegates in the invitation process.

  Evaluation Questionnaire

  • Make sure that you have a feedback form or questionnaire that the delegate fills out before leaving. The evaluation could be based on each individual session or speaker if you have different companies providing the content of the programme, or it could be a general overview of the event. The evaluation should be produced in cooperation with the client so that it includes questions relating to what they would like to know, and could include subjects such as:
    • Ease of getting to the venue
    • Accommodation
    • Programme standard
    • Speakers
    • Food & beverage
    • Social programme
    • Transportation if used
    • Whether the delegate is likely to come to another event
    • What improvements can be made
    • Actions they plan to take
    • How likely are they to recommend the event to a colleague
    • What benefit they expect to gain from taking part
    • Were their objectives met
  •  Once the questionnaire replies are received they need to be evaluated and presented in a statistical or analytical form. The results need to be combined with the information on the event from the event manager (see the first point about the Conference Review above) and a financial review of Return on Investment (ROI).

Conference & Seminar Tips: Social Events at a conference

Social Event information required before the conference

  • When you are planning what social events you are going to do in conjunction with a conference you need to decide are they optional or part of the programme? Are they sponsored or do the delegates pay for these?  Are they on-site at the conference venue or at another venue?
  • Once the above has been decided they you can plan what sort of event to have in the programme, what are the objectives, budget  what is the theme,  is it for delegates only or can partners accompany the delegate?  If off site you will need to arrange a site visit to chose the  appropriate venue for the event.  Other  arrangements will include transportation and any entertainment, decide on F&B, plus staff to manage the event.
  • Once the social programme has been decided and arranged then it is important to get all the information from the delegates prior to arriving onsite.  A booking form should be available on the website to sign up for the event.  Information required on the booking form should include:
  • An information sheet outlining the social event or activity, so delegates can understand what they are signing up for
  • Name and contact details of delegate, time and dates of activities, if bringing a partner their details also required
  • Dietary and or any allergies, disabilities
  • If activities are to be organised do they bring any equipment or require specific clothing,  or are these provided?
  • If a drinks reception or banquet dinner is  part of the programme, you might decide to send a personalised  invitation
  • A spread sheet database should be set up to record all the information so the event manager has this data to refer to when onsite and when letting venue know of numbers
  • Confirmation email should be sent out to confirm booking and any relevant information the delegates needs to know about the event or activity
  •  Relevant transportation if required needs to be booked.  If the event has a late evening finish then transportation should be arranged so that delegates can leave before the end if they so wish and if coaches used then they should arrange to drop off passengers at different hotels if required .

On-Site Management

  • Depending on size of conference recommend  to have a manned information/hospitality desk in the delegates hotel, where delegates or partners  not involved in the conference can go for information on what they can do whilst at the conference city and join any site seeing tours, activities that have been arranged.
  • If using a local DMC make sure all communications numbers of guests involved are up to date with regard to the partner activities, tours, lunches etc…
  • Make sure that staff involved in managing social events are well briefed and know exactly how many delegates and guests are involved.

Conference and Seminar Tip: On-site Management of Food and Beverage

Food and Beverage Management

  • The management of F&B is probably one of the more important aspects of running a conference as delegates will remember the quality of the food as well as its quantity and variety and the punctuality of service — did the food cater to their needs and was it well presented and inviting to eat? If all of this is correctly managed the delegates will certainly feel better disposed towards the event experience.
  • It is very important to have established a good rapport with the venue banqueting manager so that the venue can understand what is required. This is necessary both pre-event in the planning and as regular follow up. During the event daily onsite meetings should take place. Good communication is essential in order to deliver the required service, provide updates on the number of attendees, finalise room layout, choose the menu, highlight delegates with specific food requirements, and to ensure that the drinks policy is understood.
  • When the delegate registers it is important to find out if they have any special dietary requirements or food allergies and to gain insight into the background and culture of the delegate in case there are implications for their food and drink needs and preferences. If specific Halal meat is required it is probably best to specify that all the meat ordered should be Halal. Specific cultural requirements must be considered so that, if necessary, pork is not on the same buffet table as other vegetarian or meat offerings. Most chefs will allow for vegetarians but if more of the delegates prefer vegetarian options to the meat choices then numbers and quantities must be adjusted.
  • If food is served as a buffet it needs to be clearly labelled to help those with allergies. The ingredients of served dishes must be clear. Serving utensils and dishes must be kept separate where necessary.
  • Most venue banqueting staff will require final numbers at least four to seven days in advance; this will be the number that your bill will be based on. It is important for the event manager to keep a tally by spreadsheet or using conference management software that details which delegates will be present for which meals. This is especially true if there is a mixture of day and 24 hour delegates, and some delegates are on dinner bed and breakfast while others are on bed and breakfast only.
  • The event manager will need to keep good record spreadsheets on the different meals to include numbers, menu, times and types of service. All should be included in the event running order for each day of the event. This needs to be kept up to date and amended as required.
  • The event manager should allocate a specific person responsible for F&B at the conference. This person should liaise every day with the venue banqueting manager double checking menus and the number of delegates as well as making clear any specific dietary requirements. They should prepare a daily update of menus, the numbers of meals required and people attending. They also need to check the room set up of tables and chairs, the number of waiting staff and the food set up before each meal. Correct room sizing for each type or food service has already been discussed in On-site management of room set up in this series of blogs.
  • Banqueting includes tea & coffee breaks and lunch and dinner. If delegates are staying overnight it will also include bar service, room service and breakfast.
  • Breakfast is normally served as a buffet for fast turnaround. If possible have a private breakfast area for conference guests away from hotel residents as they will need to be served quickly before going into the conference.
  • Coffee and tea breaks. Make sure that soft drinks and water are available and that there are plenty of cups ready and full hot coffee thermos flasks or waiter servers for the break. Put coffee dispensers at the back of the room to draw people in and put condiments at a separate table to help reducing queues. This is more important for a large conference if all the session breaks are at the same time. Delegates like to network at the breaks and there should be plenty of time allowed for them to get their coffee as well as to find the next session room.
  • Lunch. A buffet is recommended as it is usually time efficient and delegates like to be able to choose either a hot dish or a salad as well as the quantity they are served. Make sure that if lunch is seated you have enough place settings for all the delegates. If the lunch is a stand up fork or finger buffet make sure that you have bar tables or places where empty plates can be left. Also ensure that there are enough buffet tables for the number of guests to stop long queues for food. Normally only soft drinks and water are served at lunch.
  • Drinks Reception. Decide on the beverage policy and what drinks are to be offered: this can be a package price, flat delegate fee based on a range of drinks offered, or a per bottle price with specified consumption. Make sure that you have enough drinks and canapés as the amount consumed will depend on length of the reception. Check that there are plenty of soft drinks for those people not drinking alcohol.
  • Dinner is often plated and menu is pre-chosen, with specific attention given to menu variety so food is different for each day and meal. Dinner tends to be more relaxed, and often alcohol is served. A good rule of thumb for quantities is  half a bottle of wine per person. One point to note is that when using a waiter to serve wine consumption tends to be less than when leaving the bottles on the table. Make sure that water is available on the table.
  • Beverage & bar service. During the planning of the conference a decision needs to be made on what is being paid by the hosted organisation as an open bar and what is paid by the delegates, for example by way of a cash bar or payment of drinks at meal time. A drinks policy must be understood by the venue and it should be made clear who has the authority to sign off of any extra drinks, as explained in the blog on pre-planning f&b at a conference.
  • Good communication, and keeping everyone who needs to know informed of what is happening, is paramount.

Reference reading:
John G Fisher – How to run a Successful Conference

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.

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/

 

Conference & Seminar Tips: On-Site Management, Programme Schedule Running Order, what should be included

Running Order with Venue or Hotel

  • This is like the Bible of the event and should be the reference that all the event team have access to so that they understand what is happening at any given time during the event. The more complicated and involved the event the more important it is to understand and refer to the running order. It should contain all contacts, facts and procedures for the smooth running of the event and programme.
  • The organiser of the event will have drafted their own running order and the venue will also have their own version of the function sheet. It is most important that both running orders reflect the same timings and actions so that the entire programme is covered and that they both agree on the details about each venue and part of the programme. This all should have been reviewed in a pre-conference meeting between the event manager and the venue staff.
  • Always run through the duties and responsibilities of all the staff involved on-site with them. Have a regular team meeting to go through how things will happen during the event so everyone knows what is expected of them and what their responsibilities are. Go through each day with the venue staff to make sure that any last minute changes or amendments to their Function sheet reflect those on the event managers running order.

Suggestion for the items to include in a conference running order:

  • Contact details of all staff involved in the event from the organiser’s side as well as the venue and client. Listed should be their name, job title, responsibility, and mobile phone or pager number.
  • All suppliers involved in the event with name, responsibility and contact details
  • Contact details of hotels where any of the delegates are staying as well as other venues where social events or meetings may be happening
  • Destination Management Company (e.g. when event is abroad), transport, exhibition builders, shippers – basically anyone or company involved in the execution of the event.
  • A miscellaneous section that can contain the following:
    • Account information: what is to be charged to the master account
    • Signature authority
    • Special instructions referring to any part of the programme, such as food and beverage information, dietary considerations, security, and delegate bags
    • VIPs: who and when they are coming, any special groups and activities
    • Any extra meetings apart from the official programme and when and where they are to be held
    • Extra staff/hostesses: when they are expected at functions, their roles and allocation
  • Conference meeting room information to contain the following, normally in date order:
    • Name of the room, where it is found, date and time the room is used
    • Set up of the room for each stream, date and session
    • Audio Visual equipment to be present in the meeting room, and the name of the person responsible for making sure the set up is correct each day
  • Signage for the programme:
    • What signage is required, when it is to be set up and where, when it is to be taken down, and who is responsible
  • Day by day schedule of the event – this contains all the detailed information regarding what is happening in organising the programme, to include:
    • Schedule of specific timings, what the activity is, where it is located, notes and comments, and who is responsible. This can include the pre-event day that covers set up of the event and arrival of client etc. as well as the actual event day, and post conference activities
    • Catering schedule to include what is served when and where. This should include menu and drinks for each refreshment break, social receptions and meals, plus an indication of quantity

Every one involved in the events team should be supplied with a running order of the event. At the start of each day there should be a run through of what will be happening by the event manager with the team, as well as with the venue duty manager and banqueting manager. Hold a review at the end of each day to make sure that any mishaps do not recur the following day, to note any amendments and identify any ways to improve the smooth running of the event from day to day.

Good communication, and keeping everyone who needs to know informed of what is happening, is paramount.