‘Mini business’ your conference from creation to delivery.
Sculpt your conference into a ‘mini business.’
Every conference has ‘its own story.’ There is a reason for its creation, its launch, its delivery and progression.
Plan your ‘mini business’ from the outset:
Set your strategy, goals, and objectives.
Chill and think about the purpose of your conference. A blank canvas leads to great things – it opens your mind to the freedom of thought and the freedom to plan your project.
Compile the financials and protect your cash flow.
Controlling your finances is the key to adding value to your bottom line. Every penny accounted for, every sale documented. Financial conference control equals no hidden surprises and a day-to-day peace of mind. Your ‘mini business’ needs the cash to flow – it needs to breathe sales and monitor risks. Cash is its lifeblood.
Always monitor risks. Have a Plan A and a Plan B. If, after analysis, the time, energy and financial investment in progressing your event is proving to be an uphill struggle in terms of interest/demand for your conference, consider rescheduling or, at the last resort, cancelling your conference. There is no shame in a conference production project failing if the alternative is to cause a negative effect on financial, time, and energy resources. The commitment stage of your conference brand is a prerequisite for this decision making process – e.g. a new versus established event. Give at least a month’s notice for any rescheduling/cancellation, much more if the conference is hybrid/live when attendees may already be planning logistics.
Source the venue. Liaise with the venue management team.
Your venue will make or break your conference. You will never get ‘a second chance’ to impress. Outstanding ambience doesn’t just happen – it’s designed and created. The venue is the first segment of the conference mix your delegates and guests will experience on immediate arrival – make the experience more than a great one.
It goes beyond choosing what the venue looks like. Indeed, open, light, and modern spaces create a somewhat vibrant ambience conducive to productive learning and happiness, but there is an overriding factor. Your conference venue team becomes your team for the 24/36/48 hours or more you move in with them! Make the experience a fun and happy one! Lead from the front, share your conference strategy, goals and objectives, cement and share the fundamentals, orchestrate with precision. The best venue teams will melt with your onsite conference team and together you will create magic. Get this bit right and the venue management will be plain sailing.
And as we continue to move further into the virtual and hybrid conference dimension? Choose the best virtual conference platform – one that powers out delegate, content and knowledge reach and hones in on supportive communication and networking channels. Be careful which platform you choose. The wrong platform can be detrimental to the quality of your production. Choose one which offers the potential to ‘go beyond’ the ‘same old’ – one which eradicates the ‘virtual burnout’ a lot of us are experiencing at the moment!
Secure your sponsors and exhibitors.
Confirming interest from your first sponsors and exhibitors is the secret to confirming the security of your conference. Secured revenue equals a surge in conference confidence and a decrease in risk. Sponsors and exhibitors will want a ‘piece of the action’ if your conference offering is in line with their business strategy, goals and objectives. Your conference needs to be the funnel for their increased sales revenue and brand awareness. Secure ‘that match’ and you’re halfway to establishing the perfect partnership.
And the other half?
Your commitment to the delivery of a quality conference, attracting quality delegates and guests, within a quality environment.
Create, manage, and update the brand.
What do you want your delegates and guests to think about when they hear the name of your conference, and how do you want them to feel? Launch a brand that develops such a strong relationship with its customers that people will move mountains to get to the conference. People love new things and love to know what’s new. Reinvent your brand each year–keep it afresh and alive. Conferences without powerful brands are invisible. Successful branding tools are not just ‘a nice thing to have’ – they boost your social media, advertising, PR, sales and add value to the bottom line.
Launch your programme and speakers.
The quality of your speakers and programme is the catalyst for optimum conference attendance. Cement success by sourcing the best industry luminaries and creating killer presentations and programmes. Think Confidence. Simplicity. Projection. Profile. Persona.
Attract and register your delegates and guests.
It doesn’t matter how amazing you think your conference is in concept – conferences will rarely ‘just sell on their own.’ You need to create a logical promotional timeline and sequence and stick to it very step of the way. Six months prior to the conference launch date, create excitement. Six to two months prior, build up your following and two months to seven days prior, start the final push.
Use an online registration system that utilises a straightforward mechanism to collect accurate delegate and guest details; workshop selections; dietary requirements; secure credit card, BACS and invoicing payment options; intelligence, including how guests heard about the event.
Plan and stage your technical requirements.
Your stage set is the ‘icing on the cake’ and your technical requirements the engine propelling your live/virtual/hybrid conference. Get either wrong and you set the precedent for a second-rate event.
Stage and manage your onsite event operations.
From the minute your delegates and guests walk through the door/log into your virtual event until the minute they walk out/log out again, your credibility is on show. There are limited ‘second opportunities to shine.’ The precision of the meet and greet and registration process is as important as the creation of unrivalled ambience and the focused delivery of onsite hospitality and logistics.
Manage the pre and post event survey and analyse.
Delegate and guest feedback are crucial to the future success of your conference. Review. Review. Review. Enhance and extend the staging of future events.
Neil deGrasse Tyson said, ‘It was unthinkable not long ago that a biologist or paleontologist would be at the same conference as an astrophysicist. Now we have accumulated so much data in each of these branches of science as it relates to origins that we have learned that no one discipline can answer questions of origins alone.’
This quotation may just illustrate ‘the beauty of conferences’ – people coming together to share knowledge, talk, express and inspire each other within a focused and authentic environment.
Plan to precision.