Tag Archives: Conferences

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.


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 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

Tips on how to run a Successful conference: Part 5A Finding the Right venue for your event

Finding the right venue for a conference or seminar:

Previous articles have detailed the reasons for having a conference and how to plan for this.  Before selecting the conference or seminar venue it is important to understand the goals and objectives of the event and what you want to achieve. You need to have set the budget to understand how much you can spend on a venue as well as understanding what type of audience you will be inviting and where they are located  as this will influence the location and type of venue most suited for your event.

Timing of the event:

  • Before choosing a venue you need to decide on the date of the event.  The more in advance you can book the venue the better choice you will have in finding the right venue and getting the facilities that are suitable.  Different times during the year are popular for events and the venues will normally charge a premium at these times.  Certain days in the week are more popular like midweek, venues again may charge more for room hire.
  • Make sure that the date does not clash with other National events that may affect attendance.  Different seasonal times of the year, public and school holidays can affect the attendance of an event.  Remember if you are inviting guests or holding an event in different countries you need to be aware of their public holidays. Be aware of other large events that could affect you holding your event as this could clash with some of the delegates attending or the location of your venue. Also any large event such as a sporting event or large convention or exhibition in the locality can affect accommodation, restaurants being fully booked and lack of meeting space.

Image of the Event and Delegate Profile

  • It is most important to make sure that the image of the company or Association is matched by the image of the conference or seminar venue.  The tone and type of venue should be in keeping with the conference concept and part of the overall theme marketing of the event.
  • Delegate profile must be investigated before deciding the venue. Research of attendees status, where they are located, numbers to attend, age, male to female ratio, can affect the type of venue suitable for your event.

Reference reading:

John G Fisher – How to run a Successful Conference

Tips on How to Run a Successful Conference or Seminar – Part 4A How to Market a conference

The last blogs have reviewed the reasons for having a conference, how to plan for a conference and how to budget for a conference. There can be many business reasons why a company should consider having a conference, not least are that events are an important part of the marketing mix. We will now outline the main check points to consider when planning a conference:

Having decided on your objectives and established a relevant theme, you need to consider the conference or seminar logo and the overall event branding and the invitation process for delegates.

The Promotion of the event

  • This is the most important aspect of all the planning, as you need to make sure that you have the relevant number of attendees.
  • The marketing of your event is not just the promotion of the event but integral to promoting your business, services, and expertise.
  • What ever marketing methods you adopt make sure you measure the results, so that you know what is the most effective method of getting people to attend.
  • Make sure that all your promotion is highly targeted.
  • Consider all possible methods of communication as different people like to receive different methods of communication.  Use the full range of traditional offline promotion as well as online  promotion as well as registration method for the delegates:-

Offline promotion

  • Advertising in newspapers, trade press, effectiveness of the advertisement  will depend on the clarity of the advertisement,, perceived value and targeting the degree of benefits for a person to attend.  You need to have a properly organized advertising plan and campaign.
  • Direct mail – addressed to specific recipient, which allows one to be more targeted.  You need to think who your target market is and adapt your message and language accordingly.  Unaddressed mail can also be effective but again needs to be carefully targeted.  Leaflets are a good medium for unaddressed mail.
  • Leaflet drops
  • Posters
  • Postcards, can be used as teasers to announce the date
  • Telephone, good for marketing to existing clients
  • TV & radio advertising
  • Audio and video, produce a CD that may show some of the speakers and their expertise.
  • Business introducers, using  face to face communication
  • PR, promoting the event with a press release that needs to be newsworthy i.e. different, entertaining or significant to grab the editors attention.
  • General correspondence, make sure your event is mentioned in some shape or form on all correspondence that leaves the office, such as fax header, note pads, compliment slips, leaflets to include in any correspondence sent out.  You can also use giveaways to promote the event.
  • SMS messaging, short texts are great way of reminding attendees of the event, and sending updates of what is happening.

Online promotion

  • Email, is an excellent way to market your event if you already have permission to contact the customer or prospect, often the collection of contact details through the website for newsletters can be excellent in sending electronic invitations.  The event can be promoted on every email sent from the office with an additional line on the signature.
  • Website this can be used to promote all your events on your corporate website under a specific tab heading of events.  You can also now use external website specifically designed to promote your event, provide additional information on the event and register the attendees, automate confirmation and joining instructions and send reminders if people have not responded, as well as statistics of registration and the  attendees profile.
  • Pop-Ups, on your website to convince people that your seminar is worth attending.
  • Social Media, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn
  • Phone Apps programmed for your event where delegates can link with other registered delegates and get the latest information and promotion

Further blogs on how to run a successful business event that has ROI will follow.  To receive these valuable ideas and make sure that you do not miss any of the articles we will deliver them to your in-box free, when you sign up.   The blogs will be full of tips and ideas, to help you and your business in event management.

Reference reading:

John G Fisher – How to run a Successful Conference
Philip Calvert – Successful Seminar Selling

Tips on How to Run a Successful Conference or Seminar – Part 2 How to Plan for a Conference

The last post reviewed the corporate reasons for having a conference. There can be many business reasons why a company should consider having a conference, not least are that events are an important part of the marketing mix. We will now outline the main check points to consider when planning a conference:

  • Clarify the business rational for a conference, to make sure that this is the correct event for your marketing promotion as outlined in part 1
  • Make sure that you start the planning of a conference in plenty of time to be able to plan and market your event. This can depend on the conference size and how easy it is to book a venue. You need to consider how much time your target audience will need in advance to put the date in their diary and to get them so sign up as delegate. The more time you have the better you can plan your marketing and promotion. Suggestion is at least 5 months in advance.
  • Setting objectives – this is vital not only to understand why you are holding the event but also they will provide direction for everything in the planning and promotional phases and you will be able to test the ROI at the end of the event. The success of an event will be judged on its achievement of the main objectives. Do not have too many objective, you need one overriding objective and maybe two or three others that support the main objective This may be something you cannot do on your own you may have to involve the initiators to clarify their objective and this may be done in conjunction with the marketing or sales department.
  • In the planning stage it is also good to be able to understand how you are going to measure or quantify your objectives. Specific questions on the feedback form can be used not only for measuring one specific conference but can also be used as a rolling measure of effectiveness which is updated after each event. This gathering of statistical information may be useful in planning the current conference and future events. Further information will be detailed in part 8.
  • Clarify type of conference – for internal employees or external delegates. If for external delegates you need to understand who your audience is? Are they dealers, partners, customers, potential customers, or the media? The target audience will be guided by the objective of your conference and having a clear target audience will make your promotion easier.
  • How many people should attend? Your numbers will be influenced by the budget as well as venue.
  • Will you be charging an attendance fee? This can make a huge difference to the level of your costs or profits from the conferences. Sometimes charging a fee can increase the delegate’s perception of the value of the conference. If you are not paying an attendance fee you may consider using a partners to sponsor certain parts of the conference e.g. speaker slots, reception, coffee breaks, maybe advertise their name on documentation such as invitation/programme or delegates pack.
  • The subject matter/content – theme, this will be guided by your main objectives and should focus on what it is that you want people to take away, to remember and act upon.
  • Duration of the conference – one day or over several days? How many sessions, which day of the week to hold the conference? Your business objectives and target audience will dictate this. Check that your conference does not clash with another event in your industry or nationally.
  • Location of the conference – will your audience be from the UK, Europe or worldwide? Whatever country you decide upon you should also consider easy access for the delegates to attend, near an airport or train station, city centre of a venue in a secluded location?
  • Type of venue suitable for the conference. Is it to be held in a conference centre, unusual venue, historical, academic venue or hotel the latter is important if accommodation is required? Details of finding the right venue, location and duration will be discussed in part 4.
  • Setting the budget and having funds that is sufficient to fulfil the objects and make sure that the event is to the right level of standard. Details of setting a budget will be discussed in part 3.
  • Marketing for the conference – how are you going to manage the creativity of the event? Will you, use an agency, or doing this internal? Creating the brand, theme, signage and graphics for all conference material including the programme and invitation. What is the invitation process, how is the conference going to be promoted? Will you use a production company for the presentation? All this will be out lined in part 5.
  • Event Management and logistics – decide on whether you are going to do all this yourself, or just certain parts of the project or outsource to an event management company. Event management logistics that needs to be considered include:
    • Putting together a Gantt chart showing time lines with action points, responsibility and critical dates
    • Invitation process to include delegate invitation and registration
    • Registration management – client lists
    • Travel arrangement
    • Accommodation
    • Liaison with venue to include:
      Room set up
      Audio Visual requirements
      Food and beverage
      Running order for breaks, luncheon, reception
      Booking accommodation if on site or hotel
    • 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

All the above will be covered in part 6

  • On site management to include a conference desk, registration, delegate packs, on site liaison with venue, speaker and guest management, security, health and safety all this will be outlined in part 7.
Reference reading:

John G Fisher – How to run a Successful Conference
Philip Calvert – Successful Seminar Selling