If there is one event of the year which carries a make or break onus for a company, it’s the annual conference. Organisers know that between showcasing best-selling products, up and coming projects and networking, conferences are a vital asset to any company no matter how well-established they are. So how can you make it work?
Some events can take years to establish, from the fruition of their concept to planning and production. Yet combined with a well thought out template and solid decision making, it’s definitely possible to put together a first-class conference. And it all starts with vision.
This is where the very essence of a conference is explored right down to its core, and it goes beyond the who, what, when, where and why. As well as establishing the basics, you need to be clear on communicating the kind of ethos which drives the event as well as ensuring it remains intact while you translate it into tangible goals. Never lose sight of it.
Planning is an inevitability, but it cannot be stated enough. Most importantly, planning early is essential because you’ll need time to cover the following:
• Organising a venue
• Sourcing income (whether obtaining funding from a grant or other outlets; calculating revenue, budgeting)
• Outlining event itinerary
• Scheduling speakers
Although some decisions will be made last-minute as fine-turning the conference reaches its penultimate stage, setting down the bare essentials ahead of time – while allowing some flexibility for change – not only ensures that you stay on schedule, but you have the time and capability to try out other ideas as well.
Setting The Stage
When it comes to conference set design, you want to have a good idea of when the event is being held, which location is the most suitable, an approximation of attendees and the kind of facilities you wish to have access to, as well as the overall aesthetic. Once you have this established, you can narrow down the wide variety of options (such as hotels, exhibition centres and outdoor stages) and make your decision with greater clarity.
Keep It Organised
Paperwork and administration may be the least riveting of the conference system planning process, but monitoring and managing registrants are vital tasks. After all, the more people who attend your conference, the more successful it will be – and you need to be able to keep up with the demands of the growing numbers. There are a range of options available for handling this aspect from online registration systems to hiring agencies which specialise in these kinds of logistics. It also opens up more possibilities for sponsors and other valuable assets to get involved, and ultimately, more publicity.
Fine Tuning Your Venue
Once the other planning procedures have been put into place, you can fine-tune the arrangement of your venue, from room layouts to navigation (where audience traffic will circulate) and additional features such as food/concession stands, merchandise, and more. This will help you to identify focal points as you walk through the venue as well as eliminate any potential obstacles.
Keep It Open
Organisation and flexibility may seem like contradictions, but they go hand in hand – as well as ensuring that all of your vendors have enough space and are ideally located, you want to be able to accommodate any potential changes like last-minute additions or cancellations. Your vendors, like your speakers, are a huge part of the attraction – so make sure that you are able to handle their needs.
Once you have these essentials down, make a lot of noise on social media, advertise, market, and await the big show with enthusiasm knowing that it will make a lasting impact for many.
Reno Macri is a Managing Director of a leading event company – Enigma, specialising in event design & production, office design & refurbishments, exhibition stand design & build, retail branding and much more. He specialises in experiential marketing and event productions. He enjoys sharing his thoughts on upcoming marketing ideas and design trends. Feel free to connect with him on Twitter.