If you’ve ever been to a conference and thought, “Wow! That was really great, how did they do that?” then this blog is for you! And, if you plan the conference, you already know this one’s for you, too! While a conference might transpire in just 5 business days, the planning and design of it is typically a year or more in the making. Today, we want to share with you four core necessities to show you how to plan a successful conference.
#1 ESTABLISH THE VISION
In those initial meetings between EventShop Inc. and the client, we act as a sounding board, letting the client tell their story of the conference’s inception, current state, and future goals. This is the key to knowing how to plan a successful conference. Next, it is time to absorb their vision to determine a realistic theme and budget. For example, do they want more of a lecture-style format or smaller groups with hands-on activities? This can dictate what types of cities and spaces we look into. Is accessibility at the forefront of the client’s needs? In that case, we will nix the team-building experience at a trampoline park. Okay, you get the idea here.
#2 LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
After the vision is established, it’s time to find the conference’s new home! Choosing the right space isn’t JUST about the venue, it is also about the culture of the city at large. So first thing’s first– we reach out to each city’s Visitors Bureau to get an understanding of their tone and offerings. After narrowing down the cities, it is time for the venue site visits. During these visits, we meet the potential vendor team and determine if they align with our client’s values and needs. We make sure the city and venue options are progressive in terms of inclusion and diversity. Finally, while doing the site visit, we find a couple of unique locations in the city that we then recommend to attendees later. For bonus points, we get applicable brochures from the Visitors Bureau to provide to attendees at check-in.
#3 REGISTRATION CAN MAKE IT OR BREAK IT
When we say registration, we mean from the creation of the online database all the way to the on-site registration and help desk management. When figuring out how to plan a successful conference, it is crucial to have detailed templates, documents, and clearly defined roles for registration. We make sure that we have a designated team member who is the leader of the online and on-site registration, that way there is a credible person to turn to for any clarifying questions. During the event we never let our registration & help desk be unattended. Seriously, our registration queen gets her coffee & meals brought to her each day so that she can be visible to the client and attendees at all times. This is a source of safety and security for all.
#4 IT’S ALL IN THE DETAILS
While conferences are an awesome opportunity for attendees to explore outside of their comfort zone and absorb new knowledge, it can also be an emotionally draining experience. Between the travel, the disruption in daily routine, and other factors, it is our goal to create havens for rejuvenation. For example, we love to create a Zen Room for our clients’ onsite staff. At any point throughout the conference, they can go into the beautifully decorated room and pamper themselves with essential oils, body massagers, and yoga mats. If the attendee list has a handful of new moms, a nursing room or two might also be a thing to consider. And, lastly, we use our SWAG bags to our advantage. If we know it is going to be a cold week, we suggest having a blanket in the bags. Or, create a “conference survival kit” filled with mints, highlighter, and a phone charger. It doesn’t have to break the bank, but it does need to demonstrate thoughtfulness and understanding.
And there you have it, folks! This is our (not-so-secret) formula to adding that WOW factor to any major conference. These four core necessities can show you how to plan a successful conference and have garnered us amazing feedback from clients and event attendees alike, and it keeps us hungry for discovering new trends to integrate into our existing process. Think it’s time to enhance your conference planning experience? Give us a call and watch the magic come to life.