It's conference season! Whether it's your first time planning a conference or you have been planning them for years, getting started can be overwhelming. But it doesn't have to be. Here is the ultimate guide to planning your upcoming conference. For more information on equipment rentals or just to get some of your questions answered, contact our team today here.
STEP ONE: Determine your "WHY"
Think of the purpose of your conference. Out of all of the webinars, seminars, and other knowledge sharing platforms, why should people choose your conference? Maybe this conference is unlike anything that has ever been done before, or maybe it's just a tweaked version of another successful conference. Either way, establishing a WHY that juices everyone in your team is extremely important.
STEP TWO: Visualize your ideal conference
Now that you have established your WHY, it is time to visualize what elements your conference would have to make it a reality. Here are a few things to jog your brainstorming session:
1. Where would your conference be held? A classic hotel ballroom vs. a unique off-site venue is going to play a large role in the feel of your conference.
2. What would make up your agenda? Think motivational speakers, break out sessions, and entertainment elements, like a welcome party the night before.
3. What do you want your attendees to walk away saying? Think about the emotions that you want them to feel after experiencing your conference (i.e. motivated, empowered).
STEP THREE: Create a budget
Whether it's a couple thousand dollars or hundreds of thousands, everyone has a budget. Where many go wrong is that they don't know how to allocate it properly. We always recommend the rule of the "Top 3." When you visualize your event, what are the three most important elements to make your conference a success. For example, if you want to create a conference that inspires people in a specific area and has a lot of networking opportunities, then you may want to place a large portion of your budget toward motivational speakers, a local venue, and a welcoming party the night before. From there, you can focus your remaining budget on "B" vendors, like decor or goody bags.
STEP FOUR: Select a venue
The venue you select will play a huge role in the next steps of planning your conference, which is why we put it towards the top. Not only does the venue determine a lot about your event, but it also determines a lot about your vendors, like A/V and food. If you want to have flexibility with these, then you will need to find a venue that allows outside food and doesn't penalize you for using those who aren't on their in-house list. The venue will also determine other factors like dates available, if there is a place for out of town guests to say overnight, parking and resort fees, etc.
STEP FIVE: Book your vendors
This includes your motivational speakers, your registration staff, your marketing team, your food supplier, your audio visual partner, and any other professionals you need to make your conference a success. Having this all in place will help you with the next step.
STEP SIX: Create the agenda
Now that you have a lot of the moving parts in place, it is time to create the agenda. This will include the attendees journey from start to finish- when registration opens, if there is a welcome breakfast, when the first speaker starts, when breakout sessions begin, how long they get for lunch, and the order of speakers.
STEP SEVEN: Create the agenda
Time to get the buzz going! Create a marketing initiative around what makes your conference special and target it to your ideal attendees. Think about combining "old school" marketing methods (ex: mailers) with "new school" ones (ex: social media campaigns) for the most effective outcome.
STEP EIGHT: Plan ahead for stress-free & successful
Set yourself up for a stress-free and successful conference by planning ahead. Here are a few things to help.
1. Hire the right on-site staff.
2. Have the contact information of all the staff and attendees.
3. Arrive early the day of.
4. Make sure all of the vendors have a copy of the agenda and floor plan.
5. Have signs printed throughout the venue to effectively funnel traffic.
We hope this ultimate guide to planning your upcoming conference is helpful to you and your team. For more help, contact our team today! We are dedicated to bringing you the quality you deserve at the price point you want. We are looking forward to helping you with your event!