Tag Archives: Tips

Tips – Final Preparation Before Going On-site at an Exhibition

Image result for check list on-site exhibition logistics

Preparation Just Before Going On-Site

You have done your check list and double checked that everything has been ordered and re-confirmed this with your suppliers. You have gone through the timeline and made sure that you are up to date and have everything ready to go. Now use this list to remind yourself of other things you need to have achieved:

  • Check all monies and invoices have been paid.
  • Check you have ordered any necessary:
    • Power
    • Telecommunications facilities
    • Equipment
    • Stand cleaning
    • Insurance
    • Furniture
    • Floral displays
    • Catering
  • Check and inform the appropriate people of any travel arrangements, hotel accommodation and meeting rooms that you have booked.
  • If you are having any speakers represent your company at any of the sessions make sure that they have travel and hotel bookings and that these have been confirmed. Check that they have been sent their seminar session information including session times, plans of the conference rooms and exhibition layout.
  • Make sure that any staff who are due to attend and help have been sent details of the exhibition, including your stand number and hall. They will need to know what days and times they are attending and when to meet, and they will need a show plan.
  • Have a conference call or meeting with everyone attending to run through the schedule of the show and what is expected from their participation.
  • Make sure all staff to understand the objectives and goals you want to achieve at this exhibition.
  • Prepare staff – make sure they have a complete knowledge of your company and its products and services, both current and new, and also that they know the relevant market trends and competition so that they are able to talk effectively with prospective customers.
  • Run though pre-training required by staff and make sure they are familiar with any equipment, demonstrations or presentations that they will need to use or refer to.
  • Run through the process of lead collection and allocate staff in the home office to follow up these appropriately as soon as possible after they have been generated.
  • Make an inventory and pack items to be taken to the show, such as literature, give-aways and lead forms as well as equipment, software and stock. These can often be delivered to the show by the stand builders or by using the services of a transportation freighting company. Make sure that if you are exhibiting in a non-EU country that you have filled out the correct customs forms for clearance and re-entry back to your home country.
  • Confirm that freight has arrived and all contractors are on schedule.
  • Check that you have sent out badges or passes as required.
  • Prepare an exhibition handbook with all information about the exhibition and your company’s participation, as well as supplier contact and names.
  • Plan to travel out during the build-up of the stand to make sure all is running to schedule and that you are there to supervise the stand build. Take photo of stand before show opening.

The next blog tip will be live on-site logistics

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Tips on Marketing and Publicity for Exhibitors – Marketing your Trade Show Attendance

For every exhibition there will be a variety of marketing strategies that you can use to
promote your stand, brand, business, services, products and expertise. The key to successful promotion is to use the right combination of strategies.

First you will need to know what your objectives are for exhibiting at the trade show in order to determine which forms of marketing suit your promotion. To get any attendee to your stand they need to perceive value, have an experience, or learn in some way. You will need to make sure you have a targeted and up‐to‐date database of contacts.

Traditional Marketing Media

Traditional marketing can include:

Press releases and invitations of journalists to a press conference or briefing at the
show.

Personal invitations to hospitality events or face‐to‐face meetings offered in
advance. You will need to offer them something of value like access to decision
makers and your top management.Invitations including hardcopies of the trade show registration giving an indication
of why they should visit your stand.

Database mailshots with phone follow‐up.

Promotion of a contest or prize draw they can enter or giveaways they can collect
on the stand.

Newsletter to current clients and prospects telling them what you will be doing at
the show and what you will be demonstrating. This can promote any speaking
opportunities you have as well as use competitions and giveaways, and it can
describe the hospitality you’ll offer on the stand.

Business introducers, using face‐to‐face communication to promote your attendance
at a trade show. Make sure all employees are promoting the exhibition at every
opportunity when talking to clients, prospects and third parties.

General correspondence – make sure your exhibition at the trade show is mentioned
in some shape or form on all correspondence that leaves the office, such as fax
headers, note pads, and compliment slips. Create leaflets to include in any
correspondence you send 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 to them about what is happening.
On‐line and Social Media
Many of the above‐mentioned traditional forms of marketing can be done using email
marketing.

Email campaign. This 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 for sending electronic
invitations. The exhibition can be promoted on every email sent from the office with
an additional line on the signature, specifying the stand location and number.

The company website. This can be used to promote all your events on your
corporate website under a specific tab heading of events.

LinkedIn, Facebook, Blogs and YouTube. All of the social media platforms your
company use should promote your exhibition details in advance, especially if you can
engage with potential prospects before the event.


Twitter used in combination with links to your website can be powerful in making
information about your show available to real and potential attendees in an easy‐to read
steady stream. This method is a great vehicle for generating buzz about your
conference.You will need to choose a great hashtag. A hashtag can be included in the
body of each tweet and is a short phrase preceded by a hash (#) symbol. By making a hashtag that is short and easy, other tweets can reference your conference using the tag.

  • Mention your hashtag far in advance of the conference and include in all
    your related publicity – don’t wait until the day the event starts!
  • Tweet white papers, videos, and presentations, as attachments. These can
    be teasers for your trade show appearance or even a reminder of your
    offerings.
  • A great time to send tweets promoting your appearance is a few weeks
    before the trade show. You can offer teaser photos of a new product
    appearing at the trade show or announce the details of an executive who
    will be a keynote speaker.
  • Include hashtag in all print and digital material.
  • Make sure your Twitter profile has the full name, date, location of your
    conference and a pitch about the conference.
  • Encourage your sponsors, exhibitors and speakers to include your hashtag in
    all their conference‐related postings.

Mobile Apps ‐The need for mobile trade show apps is greater than ever. Trade shows
are all about showcasing products or services in a short amount of time. You need to
let attendees know about a special discount, or send out a push notification within
seconds. There are a variety of developers of mobile apps such as CrowdCompass.

  • A mobile trade show app means faster and more efficient marketing. It
    means measurable results for your exhibitors and sponsors.
  • Mobile trade show apps also give exhibitors and sponsors more
    opportunities to make stronger connections with existing customers and
    reach out to new ones. It is one way to drive interaction and engagement
    between the company and attendees.
  • A mobile trade show app helps you think outside the booth to improve the
    overall event experience and stay ahead of the competition. These apps can
    be created for most smart devices such as Android, iPhone, and iPad.

As mentioned before you need to use the best method of promoting your trade show
attendance to your market and potential customers. The main point is to make your
attendance known so that those coming to the show know of your presence and want to visit your stand. It does not matter how good your stand and products are if you don’t get footfall and generate leads to your products.

Tips of Exhibitors – How to Budget for an Exhibition

Event_Budget-1Having already prepared your strategy and objectives for attending an exhibition as well as completing the trade show Marketing Plan, you now need to produce a working budget. The budget needs to be flexible and, as a guide, the trade show cost is normally three times the cost of the exhibition space.
Setting the budget is important to ensure you have funds that are sufficient to fulfil the exhibition’s objectives and to make sure that the exhibition is delivered to the right standard. The details of how to set a budget are discussed below.

Budget Checklist and Budget Control

  • Compile a checklist of:
    – Fixed costs which are normally around 60% of the total budget.
    – Variable costs (for example, supplier costs). This is normally around 25% of the budget.
    – Calculate a reasonable contingency of around 15% of other budget costs.
    – Review your costs regularly. It is most important to establish budgetary control of costs at the beginning of the project planning. This will enable you to know where you are with the on-going costs during the build up to the exhibition. You may find you are able to add enhancements to the stand or you may need to cut back on planned expenditure.

Fixed Costs

These costs need to be covered regardless of the number of attendees or size of an exhibition. Dependent on the type of exhibition stand they normally include exhibition floor reservation and associated payments to the exhibition organiser, the stand build, and furniture which probably makes the largest proportion of the costs.

  • Fixed Production Costs – these include:
  • Exhibiting charges due to the organiser for floor space only or a shell scheme, online marketing entry, exhibition brochure promotion, logo, sponsorship, badges, and storage space.
  • Stand build – the design of exhibition stand and associated costs, the set build or refurbishment of a pre-existing stand, flooring carpets, backdrop, furnishings, graphics, banners, and lighting hire and installation.
  • Supplier costs for furnishings, hire of equipment, such as PC or demonstration equipment, products, lead collection, scanner hire, hostess, photography, security etc.
  • Audio Visual – such as screen, projection, video, camera recording, and laser projection.
  • Sound if using for presentation on the stand to include – speakers, microphones of all types, CD player, mixer, cabling, adaptors, music etc.
  • Speaker support – design, image production, animated images, script writing, and training rehearsals.
  • Crew – you may need to allow for the costs of people for design and equipment hire, installation, freight transportation, rigging and de-rigging and all the technicians for any equipment used in the exhibition (as listed above). You may need to allow for per diem allowances for the exhibition crew too.

Fees and Insurance – this includes event management fees if an agency is being used to help with exhibition management or logistics. You may also need to pay for equipment insurance, or event insurance to cover public liability etc.

Invitation process – although the exhibition organisers will be inviting the general public you may still wish to invite your specific clients or potential clients separately. This will be a once only cost and is not dependent on the number of delegates attending. This can include:

  • Invitation design costs.
  • Print costs for direct mail.
  • Brochure.
  • Website setup.
  • Database list of invitees.
  • Telemarketing follow up.
  • Any advertising, posters and promotional costs.
  • Follow up activity to boost attendee response.

Hospitality costs – This can include both on-site hospitality on the stand, such as food and drinks, and off-site hospitality such as a dinner or a party for your clients and prospects during the exhibition.

Meeting room hire –  if required during the exhibition for private meetings with clients. Normally you will have to pay a deposit on the room hire when booking for the event with a sliding scale of payment to be made as you approach the event. Note that some conference centres do not always include the same services as hotels and these can sometimes be an additional charge to the room hire.

Set up Services – this can include supply of electrical facilities, power, waste disposal, cleaning of the stand, Wi-Fi Access and telephone. Always check exactly what services are included and for what period they are offered.

Variable Costs

These are usually the smaller proportion of your budget and will be dependent on the number of staff and attendees that you expect to attend. It is impossible to be absolutely accurate on your variable costs as exhibitions are dynamic events and constantly change. This is why it is important to create a workable budget in the early stages of your planning. Past historical documentation can be valuable when looking at numbers and previous costs. The variable items need to be checked carefully if the budget is to be kept under control.

Variable costs include:

  • Staff food & drink.
  • Refreshment breaks.
  • Accommodation of staff.
  • Travel costs for staff.
  • Training of staff.
  • Stand promotional give-aways.
  • Graphics and print materials.
  • Press packs and promotion.
  • Flowers.
  • Insurance.
  • Client entertainment and dinners.

Contingency Budget

Always build in at least an extra 15 % of variable and non-variable budget costs as a contingency budget for the unexpected, such as additional drinks, crew overtime, additional catering, and unforeseen hire costs etc. You also need to put in here any currency conversion fluctuation that you may need to cover.

Reference: Planning Successful Exhibition Budgets – http://www.tradeshowinstitute.com/downloads/Trade%20Show%20Budgeting.pdf

Guest Blog: How to pick the perfect giveaway for your event

Swags gotta have swags!

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If you’re anything like me, and by that I mean cheap and love freebies, you would relate marketing events and fairs to a shopping trip for practical stuff you’ll need for the coming year or so. When I’m at such events, I’m usually also on the lookout for freebies I can get concrete use out of. Swags such as pens, notepads and T-shirts are very common at events and for good reason – they’re things everyone needs on a daily basis. In other words, they’re practical. But practical as they are, you don’t always have to go for the same old pens and T-shirts. If you prefer to stand out, you could opt for more creative giveaway ideas.

The basic aim of a swag is to lure event-goers to your stand. That’s the very first step to getting people interested in what you’re offering. Hook them in with a good freebie and proceed from there. From the point of view as a freebie-consumer, you could have the most mundane and mainstream product/service and your stall could be the dullest one in the entire event hall. But if you’ve got an attractive-enough giveaway, I’m making a bee-line for you.

The last event I’d gone to was a work fair some two months ago and while I was looking forward to seeing what job offers there were out there, I was personally more excited about the freebies. They definitely fulfilled their aim of luring me to the different job stalls as I managed to score a number of interviews. But I was perhaps a little over-excited about the freebies which may have compromised my composure during the interviews!

When it comes to choosing the perfect giveaway, you could always go safe or go for something less conventional. With so many options for you to choose from, it can be rather overwhelming. Here’s one easy tip to follow – swags needs to have swag. Given that I’ve never had a green thumb nor been a fan of flowers, a great example of what your giveaway (from my point of view) shouldn’t be like is a pot of flower. The best swag should satisfy the basic criteria of being practical, light, small and easy to print on and cost-effective. A pot of flower is simply the exact opposite of these.

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What the perfect giveaway should be

Practical

A pot of flower sits in the corner of the room and serves no purpose besides taking up space. Plus, I’d have to water it every day – what a chore!

This is key. Items such as T-shirts, pens and thumb drives (they could only be 512mb and I’d still take them in a heartbeat) fair well as popular giveaways for this very reason. They’re items people can use over and over again. I’ve been using pens I got from such fairs for as long as I can remember and in fact don’t even remember the last time I actually bought one.

Light & small

Imagine lugging a pot of flowers all around the fair and on the bus/train home. Sure, it could make for a good conversation starter but I’d very much just prefer a photo of it, thanks.

Nobody, not even freebie-loving me goes to an event with a huge bag with which I can fill freebies. That’s just a tad bit too excessive. That being said, a giveaway needs to be small and light enough in order for it to be practical enough to be taken away.

Easy to print on

Hey let’s print our logo on this petal and have it wilt and fall! No.

If you haven’t already figured this out, your primary purpose of having a stall at a marketing event is to – duh – market your brand! The whole purpose of giveaways is to *drumroll* give away an item by which event-goers will remember you. And if your brand or logo isn’t indicated on the giveaway, chances are that nobody’s going to remember where they got the swag from.

Cost-effective

Forget the pots, flowers are expensive enough – ask anyone with a girlfriend.

You’re guaranteed to be the most popular stall in the event hall if you’re giving away a trip for two to Las Vegas as a promotional item. But unless you’re also harvesting bills or Bill Gates from your pots of flower, that’s obviously unfeasible. Since you’re going to be giving away these items for free, you have to consider the trade-offs. It’s important to not go overboard. Set a strict budget and stick to it.

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Another great example of a good giveaway is food. It’s practical in the sense that it satisfies hunger, is a light snack and small enough to fit in your stomach. That’s unless, of course, what you’re giving away is free steak in which case does not satisfy criteria #4. I remember being so hungry at the job fair that I was absolutely famished by the time I got to the PepsiCo booth. I needed to satiate my hunger and drown out the dreadful melodies being churned out by my stomach juices. That resulted in my shameless munching on Doritos as I was speaking to the PepsiCo representatives – probably why I didn’t get the job. But hey at least I got a free bottle of Mountain Dew after – score! Kinda.

Other items I picked up from the fair include this four-coloured-inked pen and heart-shaped notepad. They do satisfy the criteria of a good giveaway but given that I already have loads of pens and notepads lying around at home from previous fairs, I haven’t had much use for them just yet.

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Hands down my favourite giveaway from the job fair is this tote bag from Estrella Damm’s stall. Given that many supermarkets are now charging consumers for plastic bags, this is an extremely handy item. You’re saving money as well as the Earth! Plus, it can be used to carry all the other freebies from the other stalls, unless someone inadvertently picked up a pot of flower. It’s also simple and versatile enough design that I’d carry it on a regular day out as well. In fact I loved it so much I took a second one when everyone had their backs turned – or so I thought. Suffice to say, I didn’t get this job either!

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In a nutshell (just FYI nutshells don’t make for good giveaways), the main purpose of a freebie is to market your product/service. You want your presence to be felt everywhere. Think of a marketing event as a point where you disseminate information regarding your brand. You’re there to promote yourself and besides networking and chatting with event-goers, another way to do that is through these freebies.

Have you ever seen anyone give away a pot of flower as a freebie? Have you ever shamelessly stuffed your face with food giveaways? What’s the favourite giveaway of yours that you’ve taken? What are some of the most unique freebies you’ve seen around? Do share some of your freebie stories with us!

AUTHOR BIO
Lin’s an all-rounder in terms of physical shape. Her weekly schedule revolves around Printsome, football and abhors cutting her nails.

author pic

 

Tips on Running a Successful Conference: Measurement of Return of Investment ROI on a conference

In this blog we will follow on from the previous tip where we looked at setting Objectives for ROI to review the measurement of ROI objectives, incorporating different  levels of ROI Methodology used to measure ROI of an event.

As mentioned in the previous tip on setting objectives for ROI which is another way of expressing the contribution to profit made by an event.  The profit is the net value created by the event minus the event costs.  ROI is the profit expressed as a percentage of the cost of the event.

Measuring Level 0, Target Audience

  • The target audience should be the right people attending the event.  They are the ones with the greatest learning and behaviour gap in the potential participants.
    • The target audience is therefore defined by a method of deduction from desired behaviour (level3) and required learning (level2)
    • Measuring that have the right target audience, the post event evaluation could ask the question ‘To what extend is the topic of this session relevant to you job?’ Or ‘ How much of what was covered in this session did you already know?’

 Measuring Level 1, Delegate Satisfaction and Learning Environment:

Normally the delegates satisfaction is measured by asking the questions as to whether they were satisfied with the facilities of the venue, the logistics of organising the conference, such as registration and information sent, content of the sessions, the topics covered, quality of speakers, enough time for discussion and Q&A, was networking beneficial?

The learning environment is very important in the learning of the delegates and the changes in their behaviour which will provide value to the stakeholder.

Level 2 – Learning

  • Learning in events comes under that of information, skills attitudes and relationship learning, this can be done by self reporting.  Questions such as indicate on a percentage scale your level of knowledge or skill both before and after the session.
  •  Attitude learning, can include questions which indicate changes in brand perception, where the respondent expresses his degree of agreement or disagreement with an attitude statement, using the Likert statements.
  • Relationship learning refers to the building of affinity between people, getting to know others, trust and liking, the answers could be scored on a scale from very low to very high

Level 3 – Behaviour

  • Behaviour is the application of learning but either stop doing something, doing something differently or something new as a form of their learning experience.
  • Behaviour is often best measured by observation, e.g. if the delegates has learnt how to set up a website, and he claims to understand and remember well enough the steps and procedure to put into practice, by using learning measured by self reporting you could at some time later see if he has used the processes learnt

Planned Actions

It is useful to measure the intended application immediately after learning, with question such as ‘How do you plan to use what you have just learned?  Also by suggesting possible actions and asking delegates to consider whether they are likely to follow this through, question delegates if there are any barriers to these planned actions or if there are enablers

Level 4 Impact

  • The business impact is the very reason for which the event was designed, such as increased sales to new clients or wider range of products to existing customers, increased customer penetration, or customer loyalty. Internal events such as team building are likely to reduce costs as their business impact.  The impact data may be obtained from accounts of the company sales performance.
  • For measurement of business impact then one has to isolate the effect of the meeting to know if the sales when up after the customer event that it was this and not for example a new advertisement campaign. The best method of doing this is to have a control group, comparing the results from one group which attended and the other that did not.  For this to be reliable then the groups need to be closely matched to see if they respond in the same way or if other influences and difference was due to the event.
  • Some business impacts are monetary like sales, others which are intangible need to be converted into money values for ROI calculation. Such as reduced employee turnover or absenteeism after an event, motivation of staff.  This can lead to time saving cost per hour, recruitment by the HR department.
  • Impact values when expressed in monetary value deducted from the total cost of the event you will get the profit or loss for the event. The profit or loss value is the same costs as the percentage of the ROI figure.  The return is the impact value and the investment is the total cost.

The benefit of applying ROI methodology will always out way the costs.  It forces you to be precise in setting event objectives when planning the event, these are clear and measurable, resulting in the event programme focusing on achieving them, thereafter improving each event when applying the measurable results

Conference & Seminar Tips: Social Events at a conference

Social Event information required before the conference

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

On-Site Management

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

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

Food and Beverage Management

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

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