Tag Archives: conference planning

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

Exhibitor Management

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

On-site Management

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

Conference 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.

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.