Dos and Don’ts for Planning a Successful Conference
A conference is typically a business event that brings together like-minded people to discuss a specific topic, usually over the course of a couple of days.
The ultimate goal of a conference is to inspire, teach and facilitate sharing of ideas. The more specific the theme, the better the conference, as it’s likely to attract more SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) and highly passionate attendees.
Besides being a money-maker (in terms of ticket sales and sponsorships), a conference can provide an exceptional way to grow your business reputation in your specific industry, when done right! Unfortunately a bad conference can be a very public way to originate negative talk about your business and/or your products and services.
To help you get it right, we’ve put together a list of DOs and DON’Ts to steer you clear of everything that could hurt your reputation and waste your money.
As always, End2End Events is always available for consultation on any event for your business, including planning and executing a successful conference.
- Create a specific theme. Make it as close to the specialism your business thrives on as much as possible.
- Charge a reasonable ticket price. Compare pricing of similar conferences, and factor in value for attendees and the anticipation people will have for an event from your company.
- Focus on what you want to profit from. If no one is anticipating an event from your company, then you have to expect that most of the profits will go to offering a lower ticket price to ensure you attract enough attendees. What you lose in profits, you will gain in exposure. On the other hand, if attendees can’t wait for you to hold a conference, you will be able to charge more.
- Invite sponsors. Sponsors are not rival companies. They are parallel companies who have an interest in marketing to your target audience. Consider who would profit from exposure through sponsorship, create a professional sponsorship proposal and send it to them.
- Market effectively. Use all the targeted marketing sources at your disposal, including offering affiliates (people who can sell tickets for you) a commission on sales. Find a web developer who can create a landing page on your website that provides important information about the conference, and a copywriter who can help drive ticket sales with clear, compelling content.
- Make it easy to attend. Choose a venue that is central to most attendees. Make parking and public transport as accessible as possible, and set up a discounted rate with a nearby hotel if you expect people will be flying in. Be sure to put all of this information on your landing page!
- Create a Crystal Clear program. Every second of your conference should be pre-planned to avoid confusion, and allow you to focus on enjoying it and networking as much as possible.
- Add fun activities that break up the day. Most conferences are pretty intense, so it is ideal to plan one or more “break out” activities that help people relax and have a good time. This might include art installations, comedy sketches, hands-on activities, and so on.
- Plan for food. People get hungry and mostly angry without tea, coffee, water and snacks whenever they want them. If you are not providing meals, make sure people know where they can get them. If you are providing meals, ensure you have a diverse selection of “favourites”, including those that cater to specific dietary requirements (such as dairy or gluten free).
- Have a good time! When you relax and have a good time, you naturally attract people to you. If you’re all tense, walking around like something is going wrong, you will miss opportunities to promote yourself, your business, and your products and services.
- Try to do it all alone. Hire experts (such as an event planner) to help you create a great experience for everyone. Ensure help is readily available throughout the conference, including people with the technical skills to assist with audio/visual requirements.
- Misunderstand your target audience’s wants and needs. From planning to delivery, a great conference is about catering to their needs and wishes, not just promoting your company.
- Choose bad speakers. Speakers can add a lot to a conference (and are a great drawcard if your business is not well known). However, if they are bad, it will reflect badly on you. Take the time to find and invite and pay for the best.
- Expect that you’ll have no requests for refunds. Life happens and sometimes people who thought they would be able to make it simply can’t. Have a cancellation policy prepared and well-documented so you know what to do when this happens.
- Ignore feedback. It’s true, some people are natural whingers. But if you receive negative feedback from multiple sources, don’t ignore it. Accept it and use it to your advantage so that the next time you organise a successful conference.
For a truly outstanding conference experience, contact the team at End2End Events for help with everything from initial idea concepts and theming, through to bookings, facilitation and management.
Call us on 02 6280 9356or use the contact form below. We would love to hear from you!