Planning a business conference can be a little unnerving if you're a newcomer. Not only are your organisational skills tested to new heights, you also have to ensure that the businesses objectives for the day are met, and that attendees go home having found it to be a productive day out of the office.
So, we created a checklist of must-haves for your next conference or business meeting, to ensure everything runs just as it should...
Your first port of call is to establish the best location for your conference. Consider where the majority of attendees will be travelling from, and how they will be travelling. Hotels and venues within easy reach of motorway links and train stations will be far more suitable for a business conference than remote countryside retreats.
It's advisable to gather a few prospective dates of availability from attendees, in case your preferred date doesn't suit everyone, or the venue you have chosen to book. Ask the venue about any special discounted rates on particular dates, such as last minute availability, advanced booking or less popular days of the week.
Understand your budget, and ensure it covers your venue hire, plus any catering and supplies for the day. This includes AV hire, stationary, reception drinks and the cost of any promotional materials.
Outline the content of your meeting and how you want to communicate this to your delegates. If you plan to present, consider that you'll need a screen, a raised stage in order to be seen and a microphone in order to be heard.
Book your meeting space once you have a confirmed number of attendees. You don't want to cram 100 people into a tight meeting room, or have a small group huddled together in a grand 500 capacity hall.
Consider how you'd like the space to be laid out (all eyes front, round tables for interactive exercises, a more informal layout style...) This way, your venue of choice will be better able to recommend the ideal space for your requirements.
Consider whether you'll need syndicate rooms for your delegates to break out into smaller groups.
Decide on the catering based on the time of day and the arrival of your delegates. If it's a morning meeting, breakfast pastries and coffee on arrival work well, and encourage a little networking before the main event.
If you plan to have lunch part-way through, delegates may expect a little longer to refuel. Work lunch into your schedule, with 10 minutes either side to ensure everyone is back in the room for when you need them.
Ask your guests for details of any special dietary requirements and let the venue know of these well in advance.
If attendees will be staying the night, ensure the venue has enough availability to avoid booking them out to different hotels. Are there Internet connections? Desks in rooms for paper work? Tea and coffee making facilities? Consider what your delegates may require, and check the venue can cover these.
Include the full address of the venue in your invitation, including a map, postcode for sat navs and details of the nearest train stations. Let delegates know where to meet on arrival, and where they can park if driving (including any parking costs).
A Helping Hand
Don't stress yourself out with an overload of tasks to cover. Consider outsourcing elements of your event, to allow yourself some breathing room to focus on the finer detail. By using event planning experts, you can lean on their expertise to ensure nothing is left to chance, and that your day runs seamlessly.
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