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Ten Tips for Planning and Executing an Amazing Conference

Tip # 1. Establish buy-in early on.


You are no doubt familiar with your organization’s culture, likes and dislikes, and overarching goals. When tasked with planning and executing an amazing conference, keep these things in mind during each decision and with every unfolding detail. Be aware of what your organization likes and what they expect you to deliver. Once you’ve established a destination, topic, activities, and speakers, pitch your vision for the conference to a board of directors or executive committee. This will save you precious time and resources down the road. Establishing buy-in from key figures early on will help you dodge difficulties later.




Tip #2. Create a “dream team.”


You may think you can do everything on your own. You might believe the only way to get something done right is to do it yourself. But take it from us, when planning an amazing conference, you do NOT want to go it alone. Seek out colleagues with particular talents and build your very own conference “dream team.” Have a marketing MVP on staff? Recruit him or her! What about a coworker who is extra sharp when it comes to balancing a budget? Get him signed up! Same goes for anyone who may show expertise in event planning, program management, public relations, and communication. Make sure you also have a few folk ready to work registration at the start of the event. The more diligent and industrious, the better. This is the last job you’ll want to saddle yourself with as you deal with last minute problems and setting up for show time. So think ahead. Quality collaboration is vital for success.


Tip #3. Save the date!


Choose your dates as soon as you can and start the countdown! One year is a great time-frame to work with but every conference is different and the more time you have the better. As soon as you’ve been established as the host/planner/coordinator, start the wheels in motions. Even if you’ve been named four years out, go ahead get a date on the calendar.


Tip #4. Give yourself a budget.


Spend some time estimating the overall cost of the conference as well as how much you will charge individual attendees. It’s not enough to just consider best case scenarios. Do your research. Look over expense reports from past conferences for items such as food, lodging, technical equipment, materials, and staffing. Don’t forget all the little extras that will need to be purchased as well. Everything from the lanyards you hand out to conference participants to your keynote speaker’s air fare will need to be paid for. So make sure you get everything down before coming up with the magical number that will serve as your overall budget.


Tip #5. Location, location, location.


Compare and contrast any available venues, such as hotels and conference facilities. Don’t just consider their various rates but look at what services they’re willing to provide and the amenities they offer. A more expensive option may end up saving you money in the long run if they provide refreshments throughout the day or a technical coordinator to help you manage audio-visual elements. Once you’ve selected a few venues you’re interested in, approach them with a list of everything you need to establish whether they’re capable of delivering. Your list may include items such as free WiFi, a certain number of rooms equipped with projectors, or a catering staff able to keep the coffee flowing. Next, provide them with a careful estimate of attendees. Most venues charge based on number of rooms and number of meals so try to provide as exact a number as possible to get an accurate quote. Will they honor the group rate for pre and post conference attendees ? Will catering cost less if you choose a less complicated breakfast spread? Ask questions with money-saving in mind. And finally, check out a few reviews before making your final decision.





Tip #6. Find keynote speakers and presenters.


Your organization may already have a speaker in mind, however it never hurts to have a few backups. Either way, a quick poke around the internet will turn up a plethora of speakers and their agents. You can always ask to see a video of a past presentation if you’re unsure of a speaker’s ability. Once you have a proposal in hand, be sure to read through it carefully. Do they have any special requirements you weren’t expecting? Will they be available throughout the conference or do they show up just in time to speak and expect the next flight out of town?


Tip #7. Publicize the details.


Make the conference widely known by disseminating information through every possible channel. Send out the details by way of e-mail, social media updates, and advertisements in trade publications. Update each of these channels as new developments are made. Just signed a new speaker? Time for a press release! Confirmed your hotel? Time to shout it from the rooftops on Facebook and Twitter!


Tip #8. Initiate registration and track your totals.


While there are plenty of online registration services out there to make this step a little easier, you’ll still need to do the initial set up and keep an eye on the numbers. Set realistic deadlines to keep participation high. Make sure systems are in place for collecting fees. If you’re offering discounts for large groups from a single organization, you’ll need to establish a way of doing so. Stay in contact with your venue as your participant estimate becomes more concrete. They’ll want to make adjustments to room sizes and catering amounts based on any major changes.


Tip #9. Expect things to change.


Even the most well planned event will experience some changes once it kicks off. Rolling with the punches is a must. Open lines of communication with your venue and staff will help you make informed and intelligent decisions once the conference is happening.


Tip #10. Be present.


Keep track of everything that’s going on by taking regular strolls through the conference venue. (Comfortable shoes are a must!) Make sure you’re frequently touching base with your team so you can put out any fires before they start spreading.

And most importantly…HAVE FUN! If you’re enjoying yourself and living in the moment, chances are your team and conference participants will too.

With the help of Groople, making venue and lodging arrangements for your next conference is just a phone call away. Our hospitality experts are standing by and will gladly help you secure accommodations with simplicity, accuracy, and insider knowledge.

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