Planning a Successful Convention: Part 1 of 2
If you’ve been charged with planning a convention or national or regional conference for your company or industry, here are our best tips for a successful meeting.
Before the Meeting
1. Size matters
Depending on the nature of your convention, you may or may not be able to fully control the size of your convention. However, it will be essential to estimate some numbers, as you will need to book arrangements based on estimated attendance.
2. Book the venue
This may be the single most important decision you make regarding the planning of your convention. Choose a location that suits your estimated group size, with clean, well-appointed facilities, and the ability to provide food service to your group in a fresh and timely manner. Consider whether or not your participants will want to come early or stay late, which may mean you’ll want to assess nearby attractions.
3. Plan it in writing
With so much to do and so many details to manage, it’s far too easy for important steps to fall through the cracks. Plan your work and work your plan. This will also help you keep track of delegating and maintain timely follow ups.
4. Create a budget
This step will need to be completed rather early, in order to ascertain sponsorship needs and set a ticket price for attendees.
5. Save the Date
Once the venue is booked, it’s never too early to encourage potential attendees to save the date – even if it’s a year in advance.
6. Create a committee
Nobody said you had to plan the entire convention on your own, did they? Enlist help, create a committee, and surround yourself with helpful, hardworking, committed enthusiasts. Plus, it pays to run key ideas across a small focus group, to avoid any major oversights.
7. Book your audiovisuals early
Audiovisual support is one of those things that most people won’t notice unless it’s missing or malfunctioning. Effective audiovisual support should be seamlessly integrated with the main stage.
During Your Event
1. Stay Hydrated
It may sound like a simple thing, but conventions require long hours and lot of time on the go – make sure you and your staff stay hydrated and fed, so that you have the energy and stamina to keep going all day (and then wake up to do it all again tomorrow). Make sure your staff gets breaks to eat, sit down, and leisurely browse through the vendor areas.
You can’t put out all the fires and handle everything on your own. Stay in constant communication with your staff, solicit help, make sure everyone is on task and ask for assistance as the need arises. The stronger your communication skills during your event, the smoother the outcome.
3. Collect Information
In addition to registrations, you’ll want to collect suggestions for improvement, contact information for representatives who may wish to sponsor or present at your next convention, and participant feedback surveys. This information is essential in helping you improve your event each time, so be sure to take time after the event to analyze the data. Don’t worry about reviewing feedback right now, it’s too late to make changes for the current event, and you’ve got far too many other details to worry about right now.
4. Put on Your Game Face
Smile, be cordial and welcoming, and remind your staff to do the same. When it comes to using your staff effectively, play to everyone’s strengths. Put your most outgoing, knowledgeable staff and committee members out on the floor to help direct traffic and answer questions. Friendly, organized folks would be ideal at the registration desk and check-in. Hard-working individuals who are more on the shy side would best serve as runners and back-of-the-house personnel.
If you can implement these tips while powering through your detailed to-do list, you’re sure to have a wildly successful event.