How to Plan a Conference

September 8, 2015 - 3 min read

Have you been tasked with planning a conference? Struggling with where to start? Check out this blog to help you get creative, and plan a conference everyone will remember.

Determine WHY You Are Planning A Conference

Before you start planning any conference, you will need to determine why you are holding a conference.
Here are some common reasons to hold a conference:

  • To boost revenue.
  • To raise awareness.
  • To inform a large audience.
  • To secure new clients.
  • To get publicity.

Once you have established the reasons for holding a conference, set an end goal you wish to achieve. Whether it’s signing people up to your eNewsletter, boosting sales and awareness of a product, make sure your goal is achievable.

Set a Budget

Create two levels to your budget.

Fixed Costs: Establish how much items such as venue hire, speakers and equipment will cost in order to determine how much you can spend.

Variable Costs: These costs may change if the number of attendee’s increase. Variable costs include food, gift packs, and name badges.
When you have determined your overall budget, allow a small amount for hidden or unexpected costs, such as weekend fees, taxes or going over hire time.

Sponsorship: To potentially cut your costs, contact local businesses to offer sponsorship in trade of products or services.

Lock in Guest Speakers

Before you advertise your conference, find speakers who are experienced in the topic selected, and ensure they are able to attend. The bigger the name, the more reach your conference marketing will get.
Place their names on any advertising material to gain people’s interest, and offer a limited amount of meet and greet opportunities. This can help to increase revenue, as well as raise awareness for your conference.

Determining Attendance Numbers

To determine exact numbers, set-up an eRegistration. This will help you to keep track of people attending, as well as allowing you to email them event offers and reminders leading up to the conference.
For an estimated number of attendees, research recent conferences with a similar topic and see how many people came along.

Top Things to Consider When Selecting a Venue

Location: Select a venue with a few different sizes of conference rooms. This will give you the option to upgrade if more people register than expected. It is also a good idea to hold your conference in a hotel so you can offer a block of discount rooms to out-of-town attendees.

Inclusions: Most venues will offer inclusions such as equipment hire and catering. Negotiate a good price and ensure ALL costs are in the contract, to avoid any unexpected fees.

Final Details

Confirm All Details: Make the time to call your venue, any hire companies and each guest speaker to confirm all details are finalised.

Send Out Reminders: Send a reminder email to your attendees one week from the conference date. Follow-up with another the day before. This is important to do to ensure people don’t forget your event is coming up.

Final Changes to Program: The week before the conference, finalise the schedule for the event. Email a copy of the program to all guest speakers, hire companies and people involved in the running of the conference—this will ensure smooth operation.

If you are planning a conference, check out this great Port Macquarie conference and function venue.

Looking for more business or office related blogs? Check out these interesting articles:

Find the best Conference Planning in your area

I'm located in