Building a well-run conference isn’t as easy as it seems. From logistics to sponsorships to creative components and food and beverage, the inner workings of these seemingly straightforward events can be anything but.
With the recent wrap up of my latest conference in Calgary, this week seems like the perfect time to discuss the merits of working with a seasoned conference professional when organizing these types of large scale events.
The details are varied and numerous but can typically fall into the following categories:
First and foremost is excellent customer service when it comes to planning your registration details. This probably sounds elementary but implementing a smooth registration process that remains straightforward and consistent through pre-sales to on-site walk-ins is vital to ensure both accurate record keeping and, more importantly, a stress-free experience for your attendees.
A well-trained and friendly team is also an absolute must when you’re confronted with hundreds of people eager to enter each morning. The atmosphere can often seem chaotic but they’ll need to be prepared to answer any event related questions with ease while also solving any last minute issues that may arise without losing their cool. Your front line staff needs to have knowledge and people skills to ensure every guest leaves with the feeling of being well taken care of.
With over 15 years of event experience I can say without hesitation that no matter how much information you make available or how many reminders you might send, there are always those that just don’t have the time or desire to take in all the information that may need to know before the beginning of the event. With this in mind, keep your communications as clear and concise as possible with multiple resource locations that attendees can access and navigate with ease when they need the information most. This includes well labelled emails, accessible programs and intuitive websites and apps.
Your onsite event signage can also impact your guest’s experience. Ensuring that your attendees are effectively directed with clear, easy to read signage is an absolute must. Consider your signage from the view point of a first time attendee or possibly someone who has never even been to the host city before. Consider the questions they may be asking and cater to them.
When looking at the overall content of your conference you need to consider how your breaks need to be used as well. Are you giving attendees enough time to find their next programed event? Is there time to visit the washroom, top up a coffee or make a call? Also consider the time attendees might need to visit an accompanying tradeshow or network with other attendees, exhibitors or sponsors.
Just as with breaks, consider the timing of additional special events that are also a part of the program. Timing is a key component for keeping people engaged so careful planning is necessary to ensure a strong attendance. If the event involves an on-site reception for instance, schedule the event close to the end of your programming. Leaving a limited gap will encourage attendees to stay and network rather than looking for another activity.
On the other hand, If your event is offsite and the majority of your guests are from out of town, consider giving them extra time to freshen up in their rooms before heading out for the evening.
As with any event, each conference has its own unique needs and considerations to take into account but hiring the right team to help you execute your vision will ensure your attendees walk away with a memorable experience and your event goes off without a hitch.
Thinking about bringing your next conference to Calgary? Consider hiring Jennifer James Events to help build your next conference.