Category Archives: Pre planning and Management of logistics

First things to consider when producing a memorable small business event

DSC_0306

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

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: 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 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 and Seminar Planning Tip 6E: Banqueting – Food and Drink

The banqueting side of an event is most important as it is often the food quality and quantity that delegates will remember about an event or venue.  This is an important time during the event for informality and attendees being able to network and mingle with other attendees and the company hosting the event.

It is important to liaise with the banqueting manager at the venue in the early planning stages of the event. This enables him to understand your event objectives and type of audience attending, the lengths of event in order to be able to give advise on menu and services to offer.  The catering professional will have an idea of a balanced diet especially if you the delegates are on a 24 hour rate and the event continues for several days, you want to make sure that there is plenty of variety in the food on offer.

When your delegates register you should have a pre-event diet questionnaire where the guest can advise on any allergies or special diet, vegetarian, Halal only food etc…  Knowing your delegates will enable you to discuss menu options best for the group.

Decide on the catering package you require, this will depend on the type of event you are holding  as well as the duration of the event and whether accommodation is included.  If you have the event at a hotel you can chose for either day delegate rate, 24 hour delegate rate if residential or on an itemised basis you will have a choice of food and beverage.  If your event is a one day conference and people are travelling some distance arrival you may wish to organise coffee and tea with pastries or bacon rolls on arrival or during registration.

You need to consider your programme agenda and where best to fit in the coffee break, type of lunch whether a standing fork buffet which is good for networking, sit down buffet or a seated plate service.  Each service will give a different ambience and require different length of time to serve.  You will have an idea of the time allocated for the lunch breaks during the days programme.  Times for breaks need to be flexible as sometimes sessions can over run or the programme changed.  Continuous consultation and working with the venue producing a running order of the event will give the venue a good idea of timings for their banqueting staff preparation and service, if rooms need to have their set up turned around in which breaks.

Booking the right function room for meals and refreshments

  • You may decide to have a private lunch for your group and if this important you will need to make sure that the room size will fit the type of meal you are intending to have.  Seated buffet will require a larger room than standing buffet they will need 0.8sq meter per delegate for a standing buffer and for seated plated food they will need 1 Sq meter per delegate.  Make sure that there are plenty of service stations for the number of guests attending to stop long queues forming.
  • If it is an evening dinner make sure that there is enough room for the cabaret entertainer, dance floor, after dinner speaker, or moveable bar as necessary.
  • Check the table capacities this is important is you are doing seating plans as some banqueting tables can be laid out of 8, 10 or 12 seated guests.
  • Check what the function rooms are being used on either side as a loud disco could ruin a speech.
  • If using outside terrace for pre dinner drinks have a back up plan for inclement weather.

Drinks

Check with the client if alcoholic drinks should be served, as certain religions do not allow alcohol.  Always have plenty of soft drinks available.  It is usually recommended not to serve alcohol during lunch as some delegate might find it difficult to concentrate in the afternoon in the grave yard slot.  Cocktail reception along with soft drinks is quite often used both at the finish to a day conference before leaving or after a break as pre dinner drinks for those events that are 24 hour delegate .

Decide on how much drink you are going to offer per delegate. This may be on a drinks package option on a consumption basis.   If it is a cocktail drink then normally 2 glasses of wine per delegates or equivalent in soft drinks or small bottles of beer is fine for a half an hour drinks reception. Agree with the banqueting manager to let you know if the capacity of drinks ordered is getting near to the end so that you as the event organiser have the option to increase the amount if needs be.  It is also best to make sure when you are dealing with the venue that the  bar staff know that you or a designated person are the only ones authorised to  alter/increase  the allocation of food and beverage once agreed on the contract.  This is to stop anyone else in the company deciding to order more alcohol and suddenly finding the extra charges on the main account.

At dinner the normal rule of thumb is half a bottle of wine per person with water available at the table.  Also establish whether you are going to leave the bottles on the table or have a waiter serve, usually the latter serves less alcohol. As a general rule more white wine that red is drunk at gala dinners usually in a ratio 3:1.  Ask to be able to see the empty bottles used at the end of the evening before signing the drinks bill chit.   Always inform the venue as to whether you are going to have digestives served whether these are charged to the main account or whether guest will be paying for this themselves.

After dinner bar service, decide if this is going to be a cash bar or open bar, if the latter establish a limit to the spend, and have in place an agreed specific policy for overspend authorisation

Reference reading: 

John G Fisher – How to run a Successful Conference

Conference & Seminar Planning Tip 6D: Liaison with the Venue and Conference room set up

Liaison with the Conference or Seminar venue

We have already discusses in Tips part 5 the topic “Finding the right venue”, the importance of choosing the right the meeting space for your event and what needs to consider. In this section we will discuss what you need to plan for in the main meeting room.

It is important to make sure that the meeting room is large enough for the capacity of expected audience, the production area required for staging and the audio visual equipment (AV) and control. This should already have been discussed and verified with the venue before signing the contract.

  • Production Requirements – you need to consider the space that you will need for the stage and presentation, the projection AV and power outlets, and where to place the screen and top table in relation to the room orientation and entrance doors – you need to minimize disruption from possible late comers. Certain conference rooms already have inbuilt stage, screen etc, which makes the room setup easier to plan.
    • For front projection you need to allow the front row to be at least no closer than twice the screen height, and the bottom of the screen should be no lower than 1.2 meter from the ground. Allow for optimum viewing angles and if necessary in a large room you may require two screens or large LCD projectors for those seated at an angle and who are not looking directly at the screen. If using back projection you may require one third the length of the room to project a clear rear image. A minimum of 3 meter ceiling height is required for a clear image to be projected above the audience head.
    • It is important for the production company that is working with you to do their own site visit to the venue to clarify all the technical logistical issues. These may include staging position, power capacity, main power points, ambient lighting switches, where best to run cables, and where to put translation booths if required. If possible it is always advisable to have the meeting room on the ground floor room with easy access for the crew to unload equipment for set up and de-rig.

Conference Room lay out

How you lay out the conference room depends on the type of meeting as well as the number of people attending and the room’s capacity. Check the room’s exact measurements carefully with hotel floor plan as the hotel estimation of capacity audience may be different to your event’s requirement.

There are several different layouts commonly used that you can consider for your meeting depending on its type:

  • Classroom – useful for workshop type environment where delegates face the screen behind rows of desks usually with a central aisle for access.
  • Theatre – front facing rows no desks, some specific rooms will have racked or auditorium seating, others may have tablets for writing that can fold down for delegates to use. This setting is useful for presentations and you are more restricted on space.
  • Cabaret or Half Moon – where delegates sit on half table facing towards the screen and speaker. This is a good layout to use for training classes where you need a bit of collaboration between delegates. If the room is larger than anticipated attendees the cabaret style tends to take up more space than theatre seating.
  • Hollow Square – seating with delegates facing each other on 4 sides of a square this is good for meetings where delegates will be having discussions with each other and need to see all the participants.
  •  U-shape or Open Square – where delegates sit on three sides of the square normally with the screen of presenter in the open side. This is good for workshops and training sessions where there is presentation but where delegates also need to be able to discuss topics.
  • Boardroom – used for the smaller meeting groups where seating is around a long table with one or two people at either end.

Hotels will have an indication of the room capacity for your type of set up, however it is always best to check and allowed for plenty of space for people to move around. You know your programme: you might need extra space at the side depending on the activities planned and depending on whether refreshments or lunch are going to be served in the meeting room.

You need to be prepared if more people register to attend the meeting and you need to make adjustments to the staging to make more room: it is important to discuss these possibilities with your production company and to have layout of the floor plan to hand.

During all the planning of the conference or seminar you need to keep the hotel informed of the running order of the programme and what facilities and services are required from the hotel or what you will be using from outside suppliers.

Tips on how to run a Successful Conference or Seminar: Planning for a conference – Accommodation Considerations

Overnight accommodation

  • Agent or direct with hotel – You may chose to do this direct with the hotel or use a booking agent.
    It is worth noting that the booking agent will probably get a good price for the hotel bedroom due to the amount business they take to the hotel. If you chose an agent which has the benefit of saving time or research, you may not be able to further negotiate on other conference services such as room hire, audio visual equipment, food and beverage rates as you are dealing through a third party who is claiming commission.
    Sometimes you can negotiate a good deal if you use a hotel chain for other events or do repeat business. Like all business relationships it has to work both ways.
  • The accommodation type required for the delegates and staff will vary according to the type of event: whether it is residential or off site accommodation for an event taking part in a nearby venue. Consideration needs to be given as to how long the event is taking place i.e. the number of room nights. Some events promote the ability for delegates to have an option on choosing different class hotels for their accommodation during the event.
  • Meeting with hotel management – When organising a meeting with the hotel either at the site visit or at the stage of  further negotiations it will help considerably to have past event statistics of types and class of rooms required, or the number of beds required in the various categories of hotel room. If it is a new event let the hotel know the number of delegates you anticipate will attend and what types of bedrooms they will require.

Some hotels will charge a different rate for the different types of rooms. If, however, the event requires you to use most of the hotel bedrooms you may be offered the run of house of all the rooms at one set rate. It is then important to know the room repartition (number of type of different rooms) as this can be pertinent if all the delegates are supposed to be treated equally. A single room and a double room for single use can be quite different in room size as well as size of bed. A standard room and an executive room may be the same size but one may have a queen size bed and the other a king size bed with additional amenities, plus separate shower and bath included.
You need to check with the hotel exactly what is included in the room rate.

  • Know the accommodation required by your delegates -Bear in mind that you may need a range of different rooms for your different status delegates and company staff such as VIP guests, senior management, celebrity speaker, famous entertainers, and sponsors. If delegates are paying for the accommodation then you may need different types of rooms at differing quality hotels from the inexpensive through to the five star. If status is irrelevant then make sure that all the delegates are allocated the same standard of room at hotels of similar star category.
  • Understand requirement of the hotel contract – It is important when you negotiate with the hotel for bedrooms that you know the number you require and attrition clauses in the contract.
    Know the cancellation policy: take note of dates and the percentage of rooms you are able to cancel without having to pay cancellation charges.  Also note determine whether you have to pay a full 24 hour delegate fee for cancellations, which includes the food and beverage, or the room only rate which will be much less. This consideration will make a big difference if the number of attendees drops below your guaranteed number.
    Also take note of when the deposits have to be paid as well as when rooming lists and final numbers will be required.
  • Check-in process and payment – Make it clear to the hotel if the rooms are charged to a central account or if the delegates are going to pay individually for the accommodation or their extra incidental charges on departure.
    It is important to discuss with the hotel management whether it is a group or individual check in and what the check out procedure is. This will enable you to make sure that there are plenty of reception staff and porters available if the group arrives at the same time.
    Delegates will not expect to have to wait a long time in queues. If a group arrives before the rooms are available then you may wish to have an area set aside for guest refreshments and room keys to be given out.
    Consideration should also be given to luggage storage.
  • Check in time and check out times – Ask the hotel what the arrival check in and the departure check out times are. It is important that your delegates are aware of check-in process so that you that you can set expectations of what the hotel can fulfill.
    You may need early access to rooms if the delegate is arriving on an early overnight flight. The delegate will probably want to check into his room on arrival and you may have to book the room for the night before. If the hotel is not booked the night before they may allow the guest into the room early without extra charge.  The same applies if you need to negotiate late check out for certain delegates.
  • Rooming list– normally if it is a large conference the hotel will require a rooming list in arrival date order. This will be most useful if it is in alphabetical order with the number of nights required and type of room with any special needs. It is helpful to give this list to the venue as soon as possible or at least two weeks before the event.
  • Negotiation with hotel – Hotels on the whole are open to negotiation if you are reasonable with them and they are able to comply and are not too busy the night before the event. Some hotels will give you upgrades at no additional charge if you are booking for a large group; some will allocated a specific number of staff rooms at discounted cost. All this depends on the individual hotel but it helps if you can build up good rapport with the hotel conference manager.

You may well be able to negotiate better term if you are dealing with a large size group, or are using other services of the hotel in relation to room hire, ordering onsite food and beverages.

Remember there has to be some give and take on both sides. The hotel wants to make sure that your event gets the best service just as you do. The more you let the hotel know about the event — the profile of delegates, the objective of the event and the event organisation and timings — the better prepared they are to give you good service.

Tips how to run a Successful Conference: Event Management and Planning Logistics, The invitation Process

The Invitation Process

 The marketing and creativity side of the invitation process was covered in part 4 of tips; here we will concentrate on the process.

the invitation is not only a way of inviting delegates but also a way to confirm name and contact address of potential delegate and open a dialogue for further communications before and after the event.

for this you need a database, depending on the event this can be a database of your own employees, a prospect list from your CSR system, sales records, website inquiries about your products or services, commercial lists although these are not always so successful and you cannot always know how clean and up to date these are.  Third party lists from your partner or distributors, can also be invited.  Remember you need to invite far more people than you actually want to attend and there is often a 25% drop out rate.

Software products are available on the market for the actual process of administrating the attendees, and if you do several events a year it is worthwhile investing in a package.

The invitation mailing should be creative and follow the theme of the event, it should encourage acceptance, and give the essential information an attendee requires before deciding to attend:

  • Name, title, address of delegate
  • Date and location of event, map and rail/road/air connections
  • Start and finish times
  • Theme of the conference and why they should attend
  • Guest speakers if famous or a renowned authority on the subject
  • Personalisation from the conference sponsors
  • Reply device, with space for delegate contact details and any special needs

the timing of sending out the invitation is important and this should be built into your invitation plan and further reminders of the event should also be planned before the event and added to your time line.  Certain audiences may require at least three months notice of the event, with reminders sent out to the undecided as you near the event.

confirmation of attendance, this should be done immediately as you need to build up a communication channel to the delegate leading up to the event both to promote your company and also to reduce the inevitable drop-out rate.  Communication should be regular and involve email messages, news letters telephone and further details on the programme, joining instructions, travel and accommodation details, hospitality arrangements and other relevant information you would like the delegate to receive before the event.  If you are using web based registration you can add their own personal login and ability to communicate with other attendees and find out information on the event.

the registration system will be used to create badges for the delegates that can be created by the software package you are using and colour coordinated if required to show the different categories of delegates, sponsors, speakers, staff, exhibitors etc.

The delegate attendee list will also be created from the registration list and can be analysed and produced as required.  The contact list is most important if there is a crisis during the event and should be up to date and available to all those concerned in dealing with a situation if the needs arises.