Planning a conference means details, details, details!
So let's look at the details necessary for planning a successful conference.
The Right Time
What may be the perfect time for you may not be the perfect time for your attendees or the city/hotel you want to use. Plan and coordinate a time that would be suitable to all. You can't please everyone in this, but it is best to schedule it around the important attendees and speakers.
Avoid any holidays or important events during the time that may affect attendance such as religious holidays and other industry-related events.
The Right Location
The right location, with the necessary facilities, is the key in making an event attractive to potential attendees. It's best to hold conferences in a cosmopolitan city, which is also a business hub.
The city's convention and visitor's bureau (CVB) Web site will provide you information about other conventions, meetings or sporting events taking place during the same time. The local CVB also can assist you in finding the right hotel for your event. They will send your lead out to all their member hotels so you don't have to contact each individually. Be sure to identify what type of hotel property you are interested in i.e., four-star, close to the airport etc. Make sure there are plenty of travel options by air, train or road.
The Right Hotel
The right hotel is pivotal to the success of your conference; make sure the hotel has all amenities that might be important to your conference needs.
The hotel must have, fully geared Business Centers with state of the art facilities coupled with boardroom and meeting rooms. A multi function room to cater to meetings, theatre style seminars and promotions and exhibitions, is important, and of course, sit down dinners and lunches with full and latest audio + video conferencing facilities.
Find out what food and beverage venues the hotel offers or are within walking distance, especially if you are not providing breakfast, lunch and/or dinner.
The Right Equipment
Most hotels have an audio/visual department, and this department also controls the sound. But they also service other groups in the hotel as well. Consider arranging for a technician to be in your conference room at all times.
If your presentation is on a computer, make sure you back-up your presentation to a jump drive. Podium microphones and wired lavaliere microphones are the least expensive. Make sure your video devices are setup for maximum exposure.
Pre event checks
Two weeks prior to your event, send your specifications to your hotel, include: date, time, set-time, rehearsal times, room set-ups, microphone and audio/visual requirements, and any special needs you may have.
Catalog the number of meeting rooms needed; seating set-up, number of seats; AV requirements; food and beverage rooms, offices, and/or storage.
If space is stretched and you need multiple meeting rooms, try scheduling the main session in the morning or afternoon and use the same meeting room for lunch.
Ask the hotel to list amenities that might be important to your group i.e., free wireless, health club, room service, spa facilities etc.
Be sure to review the catering menus and prepare an estimated budget.
Check your meeting room setup as soon as possible, before doing anything else.
Request the room to be set for 25 percent more than you expect.
Schedule a daily meeting with everyone that is involved with your event including the catering manager, convention services manager, AV and sound technicians.