Tag Archives: conference planning

Conference & Seminar Tips: On-Site Management, Meeting room set Up and Audio Visual Set Up

Meeting Room & AV Set Up

You should have already decided how each meeting room is to be set up according to requirements for the meeting. This was outlined in a previous tip – Liaison with the Venue and Conference Room Set Up. Meeting rooms can be set up as theatre, cabaret or classroom for a presentation, hollow square or U shape for discussions, or boardroom for committees or small discussion meetings.

Important things to consider on-site:

  • Allocate staff to look after specific meeting rooms, do a walk-around with staff before the event begins so that they know where rooms are situated. Ensure that they have been given access keys if the rooms are lockable.
  • Whilst doing the walk-around decide on what signage is required to inform the delegates both of the name of the room and the name of the meeting or session. Consider directional signage if delegates have to move around between sessions.
  • Be aware of which entrance or exit for the room is to be used by the delegates. This is important both for traffic flow and so that any latecomers will not disrupt the meeting or the speaker’s flow. The entrance and exit is normally at the back of the room away from the top table or screen.
  • You will already have decided if name badge checks or barcode reading will need to be done at the entrance to the meeting room.
  • Allocate staff to check room set up before each day starts. They should check that the layout is correct and that water, pens, paper, name cards etc. are laid out according to the running order. AV should be in place and working.
  • With each meeting room know the following:

o   Access times

o   Sessions times

o   Times of coffee and lunch breaks, when room can be cleared and replenished by venue staff

o   Room set up

o   AV requirements

o   Who is responsible for the room and their contact number

  • During set up be aware of any health and safety hazard. Ensure there are no cables that delegates could trip over and that fire exits are kept clear of obstruction.
  • Whoever is responsible for the room should know how all equipment works, i.e. air conditioning, heating control, light phasing, how to darken the rooms with blinds.
  • Make sure that the venue has followed the written set up instructions like number of chairs to a table as requested, speaker table at front of room, extra tables for brochures or handouts. Ensure that flipcharts, pens, and white boards are where they should be.
  • The person responsible for the room should already have gone through the AV requirements, either with the venue if they are supplying it or with the privately hired supplier. They should make sure all the required equipment is present and have extra supplies of consumables like batteries to hand in case they are needed.
  • Check the visibility of the stage and speaker or podium as viewed from various seats. Some rooms may require LCD screens positioned around the room so that everyone can see the presentation and speaker. Other rooms may have pillars or be an awkward shape – make sure all delegates can get a good view of what is going on.
  • It is essential to have IT or AV technicians in the room or on-site depending how complicated the technical and AV set up is.
  • The AV production company will have already have done a site visit and will have quoted for the equipment they believe is required for your conference or meeting. Considerations will include size and height of stage, how many screens and their size for the room area, the number of speaker positions, top table and podium requirements, and whether additional lighting is required. Remember if using lapel microphones that you may need to have extra available if there is more than one speaker for a session.
  • If you are using a production company for a larger meeting the producer and caller should already be aware of the programme and have all the timings set and equipment required to ensure the meeting runs smoothly.

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

Conference & Seminar Tips: On-Site Management Extra Staff & Hostesses

Hostesses and extra staff

For a large conference – You will probably require extra staff to assist with duties such as:

o   Room hostess to check  and scan badges of attendees entering pre-booked sessions.

o   Directional hostesses, if you have a large auditorium with key note speakers you often only have a limited time to seat everyone. You will need to have teams of staff directing delegates where to sit, getting them to fill blocks of seating from the front to the back, and directing delegates to move into the middle of rows.

o   Directional hostesses can also be used in an award ceremony to direct winners onto the stage.

o   If there is a Q&A session at the end of a presentation the hostess can be responsible for passing the handheld microphone to the person asking the questions.

o   Additional staff might be needed to: assist in moving directional signage each day, assisting on registration, manning information desks, and to be used as a runner, if there is limited walkie-talkie and internal mobile phone usage. You may also need extra staff to check meeting room set up or A/V set up, to provide VIP assistance, to act as speaker VIP lounge hostess, to check on restaurant food set up, and to assist the movement of delegates from one area to another.

  • Always run through the duties and responsibilities of all staff involved on-site with them and have regular team meetings to go through the process during event so every one knows what is expected of them. Make sure you have a suitable meal break rota so that there are enough staff on duty when required. Regularly communicate with your staff – sort out any issues before they become real problems. Remind staff to be welcoming and helpful to the delegates.

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

Conference and Seminar Tips: On-Site Management – Delegate Packs

Delegation Information

Depending on the client objectives you may be required to organise delegate packs in folders, bags, and files or however they are requested.

Important things to consider

  • Before going on-site you must agree with the client what information is to be in the pack or given to the attendee during the conference and in what order they would like this information to be accessed.
  • Make sure you have enough staff for the job and have allocated enough time. It can take quite a long time to fulfill and this will depend on how many packs and people are available to put the contents together
  • Typical information you may wish to consider for a delegate’s pack includes:
    • Welcome letter from the sponsor, association or company
    • Programme of events
    • Amendments to the programme
    • Conference at a glance sheet
    • Exhibitors list of companies and products and exhibition plan of stands
    • Attendee list: sometimes this is alphabetical by surname, company or country
    • Speaker biographies
    • Handouts for conference sessions
    • Any specific sponsor or company information, promotions, product details etc.
    • Pens
    • Note pads
    • Partner booking form for tours
    • Extra meeting schedule
    • Invitation to reception, social events, and tickets
    • Feedback and evaluation forms
    • Gifts
    • Map of the city or area, underground maps and other location information
    • Relevant tourist information on the city, area etc.
  • Before arrival at the conference all material for the delegate packs should have been put into boxes. Clearly label and mark each box with the content so that you know where items are when you start putting the packs together.
  • At the conference have a list of contents and the order they are to be inserted.
  • Have enough staff to assist in the preparation of the packs — students are often available to assist. Make sure that all concerned are given clear instructions about what they need to do.
  • If you have quite a few people preparing make sure they have sufficient work space for their various duties. Suggest that a large meeting table is made available as this can be used for putting material together. A line of tables is useful for collating the material.
  • Once packs are prepared make sure that they are stored in an easily reached area by the delegate registration desks.
  • Check if delegates need to sign additional sheets at registration such as confirmation of attendance at a seminar or other documents that may be required such as permission to photograph, non-disclosure documents etc.

Conference & Seminar Tips: On-Site Management – Delegates Registration Desk

Delegate Registration area

For a large conference – If delegates need to register on site you will typically need one member of staff per 50 expected guests as it is important to reduce queuing time on the first day. Allow for some extra staff to be unassigned and available to answer any questions.

  • Always run through the registration process with all the staff involved on-site and have regular team meeting to go through the process during the set up and when live so every one knows what is expected of them. Regularly communicate with your staff – sort out any issues before they become a real problem. Remind staff to be welcoming and helpful to the delegates.
  • Make sure that you are in communication with staff who are co-ordinating the transport logistics. If any large groups are arriving by coach make sure there are enough staff on duty. As first impressions are so important it is always best to be prepared to ensure the registration run smoothly.
  • Make sure that you have registration desks divided alphabetically and clearly signed so that delegates can sort themselves before arriving at the desk.
  • Put out roped divides if expecting large numbers of people at one time.
  • Before the event you should have a list of attendees sorted in alphabetical and maybe company order. Delegate badges should be checked and sorted in surname alphabetical order. Lay out the badges facing the conference staff. The bags or any documentation for the delegates should be accessible so they can be easily given to the delegates. Note the names of any delegates you need to give special instructions to or collect information from, such as speakers, VIPS etc.
  • Depending on the size or type of conference you may have a separate area for registering VIP, speakers, exhibition vendors etc. Some conference programmes require that the badges to be of different colours so that specific attendees can quickly be recognised.
  • Have a separate area to deal with misspelt or missing badges so that those waiting to register are not held up, make sure you have a badge maker on site.
  • With large groups try and open the reception at least an hour before the conference starts. Have an area open for networking where coffee and tea is being served – this is often in the exhibition area adjoining the conference.
  • Some conferences open with a pre conference reception in the evening to allow for delegates to register the night before. This can be of benefit by reducing the numbers of delegates registering on the first day.
  • Some conferences may use pre-registration badges with bar codes so that delegates can walk through a defined entrance to conference. Make sure that adequate personnel are on hand to swipe badges and to direct delegates to an area where they can collect their delegate bags.
  • Make sure you keep a list of those who have not arrived in case you need to find out why they have not attended after the event.
  • If the conference is running over several days there may not be so many people to register after the first day. In this case you can make the registration area smaller after the first day depending on the number of delegates still to register.

For a smaller conference –

  • You may be able to have just one or two trestle tables covered with cloth for the registration area. The principal of delegate flow will be the same as above. It is useful to use the venue wall as a back wall and have a table against this for delegate bags or other material to be given out.
  • If you are sharing a venue with other companies use corporate branding, such as a logo or conference name, on a popup banner to indicate where the company conference registration area is. Remember to have good directional signs.

During all the registration process you need to keep the hotel or venue informed of the running order of the programme. They will need to know the main conference staff contacts with their specific duties.

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

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.

Tips on how to run a a Successful Conference Part 6A: Event Management and Planning Logistics

The event logistics and management is a large area to consider when organising any conference so we will cover this in 5 sections starting with whether to manage the conference yourself or outsource, creating time line for project management plus transportation.

The main check points to consider when planning and implementing event management for
a seminar or a conference are:

In house or outsourcing the event management
Whether you decide to do the whole event management and logistics in‐house yourself or
with your team or use an event company to assist in part or all the logistics and management of the event you will need to have a person responsible for the project management of the event. I will do a separate blog on choosing an event company to manage an event.

Project Management
Once the time and place of the conference or seminar has been decided it is very important
to manage your tight deadlines to make sure all the processes, plans and deadlines are
completed and that the schedule is adhered to.

Create a Gantt chart or time line schedule, start by working back from the event date,
highlight dates and projects when they need to be started and completed. It is most
important when setting the dates and actions that the person or team responsible is clearly
shown. All of the logistics and management planning of the event should be included. Ensure that the invitation, marketing, logistics of the delegate registration as well as the production side and venue communications are all included and nothing is missed out or forgotten. The time line is one of the stepping stones to planning a successful event.

Travel arrangements

‐ Depending on the event some delegates may be making their own way to the event and will require a map or link on how to find the venue and know the distances from bus, train, motorway and car parking facilities.

Delegates flying to the event may require to be picked up from the airport and
taken to the venue, or at least information on how to reach the venue from the port
of entry. Depending on the event you might be responsible for organizing hostesses
at the airport to meet and greet, and coach or private car pick up for VIP or foreign
attendees. You will need to know the group size of attendees arriving on internal or
international flights and arrange the method of pick up according to size of group.
There are many excellent transportation companies used to picking up clients from
airports and stations that have the vehicle suitable to the group size. It is important
that you have informed the delegates beforehand about the pick up arrangements so
that other passengers are not delayed. If the venue is near the airport then shuttle
bus services can be advantageous.

‐ It is as important to get the delegates there on time as it is to make sure that their
return transportation is waiting for them (order at least 30 minutes before the
conference ends) and they have the details correct for departure time and checkout
process especially if flights are involved. For national day conferences bear in mind
the length of the day: do not start too early say around 10:00hrs or finish too late at
around 16:30 so that delegates have time to travel back and not have to leave the
conference or seminar before it is finished.

The next blog will highlight tips on the invitation process.

Reference Reading:

John G fisher – How to run a Successful Conference

Tips on how to run a successful conference: Part 5B Finding the Right Venue for an Event

Location & Meeting Space for the Event:

  • Location is a very important to consider: make sure that the venue is easily accessible for all attendees.  Will the delegates be coming from near or far, do they need overnight accommodation, Is the event best suited for a city centre or country location, near an airport or train station, easy access to public transport, or do you require near access to motorways and a venue with plenty of parking?
  • Accommodation:  Is the event just one day or over several days? Do you require on-site accommodation or a conference centre or venue with a selection of hotels near to the venue?  Even if the event is only for one day you may still need accommodation for the set up staff, or delegates and speakers.
    • The programme of a conference or seminar will dictate how much time you need to hire the space for setup, rehearsal, exhibition set up if linked with a conference, and de rigging if you have much staging after the event.  You will need to take this into account when finding out what space is available on the dates you require.
    • Understand how many meeting rooms and what size, breakout rooms, exhibition space, registration area and lunch. coffee break area you require and on what dates. It is easiest to set this out on a spreadsheet and add to this the number of overall attendees you expect at each session.  You need  to understand how many rooms you require and their layout such as theatre style will not require as large a room for 50 pax as one set out for cabaret style, or classroom style for the same number.  Always make sure that you have adequate space for your delegates to be in a meeting without feeling cramped, this is also important for the coffee break or lunch areas where the delegates will want to network.
    • The facilities – Staging,  A/V, multi-media and technical support must be taken into consideration.  Each session requirement will affect the size of room required.  Ceiling height restrictions, weight load bearing factors and easy access is important to consider when the space is being used for exhibition.  If the event requires simultaneous translation you will need to leave adequate space for booths to be set up.  The plenary room may require, back projection with stage set this will take up quite a large area of the room.  Note that some venues already have tiered theatre seating and in-build A/V in their meeting rooms.  If wishing to have a private lunch area consider whether this will be a stand up fork buffet suitable for a networking lunch which will not require such a large area as a seated buffet lunch.  Coffee break area’s should be with-in easy access to the meeting rooms or a central place where the main exhibition area is set.

Venue Search and Site Visit

Venue search can be done by a specific venue search agent who do not charge a fee but get commission from the booking.  Alternatively an event company used for managing the event can do a venue search and booking on your behalf.  If you prefer to do this yourself, then tourist offices, hotel chains, trade directories, the internet, can all assist.

Once you have a short list of venues you think are suitable you must always do a site visit to inspect the venue as brochures and website will never compensate for an actual visit and understanding the layout of the venue and how the delegate flow and programme will work.  When doing a visit always have an inspection check list, (If you require further information on the check list please contact B2B Event Management and we will send out.)  When you do the site visit you must also be prepared to discuss your programme, and give the venue as much information to enable them to understand the best use of their site for your event.  Before making a final decision make sure you understand the contract and cancellation policies. It is also advisable to see if you can get any references from other organizations  who have used the venue for their events.

Reference reading:

John G Fisher – How to run a Successful Conference