Planning a conference, whether at a venue or a virtual event, is no small feat and requires meticulous planning and attention to detail to achieve. Once your team has decided that they would like to organize a conference, there are numerous steps to turn your initial concept into a reality. This guide is to ensure that you do not miss any of the critical steps in planning a successful conference.
Conference planning can take from three months to three years, depending on the size and complexity of your event, so you’ll want to start planning as soon as possible.
We have put together this comprehensive conference planning guide to help you through the meeting planning process, from the original idea to the development of your post-event follow-up.
Determine your purpose
If you plan to organize a conference, be sure to identify a specific topic and then see if there is a demand for that topic from your target audience. You may be involved in certain social networking communities, for example, where you can begin to assess the need/demand for the type of conference you are proposing.
Once you have established the purpose of the event, you can also begin to get a rough estimate of how many attendees you can reasonably expect.
Putting together a team
Having a strong planning committee is one of the most important factors for the success of any event. There are many moving parts and it is essential to have committee members to manage the different aspects of the planning process and ensure that no member or planner has too much on their shoulders.
Be sure to outline specific tasks and positions, so that everyone is clear about their role and no details are lost. Some examples of equipment you might want to include are logistics (site setup, travel arrangements, etc.); marketing (website, social media promotions, etc.); and financing (budget management, etc.).
Calculate your budget and prices
Before continuing with the event planning process, be sure to outline a realistic budget for the conference. This will help guide the investigation of your site and determine whether the proposals you receive and their associated costs will be feasible.
Consider your income, such as what you will charge for conference registration fees and exhibition space, as well as whether you will sell sponsorships. These sources of income will help you determine the costs you may incur.
Find a place
As soon as you have defined the theme of your conference and have established a realistic budget, you should begin your conference site investigation. Decide where and when you want to hold the conference (it is a good idea to have several alternative dates) and look for locations that may be suitable based on factors such as size, meeting space, exhibition hall, A/C, location, availability and cost.
It is also a good idea to consider what services the place offers. For example, a hotel and convention center may have an in-house banquet team that will simplify event catering, but other venues may require you to bring in an outside vendor, which means additional research and potentially greater expense for you.
If you are planning a virtual conference, then it will be easier for you because you don’t need a venue, all you need is adequate backup, lighting and audio for your event speakers.
This can be even more cost-effective for both organizers and attendees, as you will not have the budget for a venue and attendees will not need to book flights or hotel rooms if they come from far away.
It will even give you a greater reach because it will be more accessible to people all over the country and even around the world. Look at this article on how virtual conferences work to give you an idea of the pros and cons if you should switch to a virtual event.
Build your website
To promote and sell tickets for your conference, you will need a website for the event. When it comes to choosing the right online ticketing software make sure they have event website creation functionality.
For example, Accelevants offers customized websites for conferences and trade shows that will help you increase attendance and sell more booth space, while keeping your group sessions and keynote speakers organized. This is also a great place to market your conference agenda.
Using ticketing software to set up an online registration page will allow attendees to easily access the registration form and submit their payment, and you can set different ticketing levels if you give attendees the option to register for specific sessions or if you are including a separate registration for exhibitors. An online platform will also allow you to track the progress of registration and ticketing, as well as streamline the check-in process on site.