It’s no secret that conferences are a great way to educate people on topics they may not know much about. It is also a good opportunity for those in attendance to connect with others and grow their network. But, there is more to it than just the education aspect of the conference itself. Conferences need to have a lot going on for them to keep everyone interested and engaged throughout all sessions. Here are some important considerations when planning your next conference event!
This is probably THE most important aspect of any conference because it sets the tone for everything else. Where your meeting is held can have a huge impact on how many people can attend. Some venues are also inaccessible for certain types of people (e.g., wheelchair-bound). If your company/department is hosting the conference, then they might already have a location and an audio visual hire in mind, and it works out perfectly for everyone involved. If not, then you need to consider all the options available to you when choosing your venue. You want people to get there easily and feel comfortable in the space both while they are at the event and when they are not.
Choosing the right timing for your conference is just as important as choosing the right location. If you are trying to attract people with full-time jobs, then having your events on weekday evenings may not be best for them. It also depends on how many days you are holding your event. How long is each session? Do they go on for an hour or multiple hours? Is there a lunch break in the middle of the day? All these factors should be considered when choosing what time of day to hold your conference.
When choosing your date, it is important to know that there are certain days and times that people usually prefer. For example, Friday evening events attract more working professionals who may not want to work a full day on a Thursday and then stay late for your event. Having your conference over the weekend might be better because it gives everyone an extra day off from work/school so they can make it to sessions they otherwise might not have. You also need to consider the seasons when choosing what time of year your event will be held. Is registration cheaper in November? Are there more people available in July? How does that influence your budget when trying to book a venue, especially when travel is involved?
4. Theme and Number of Sessions
The theme of your conference is another important aspect of planning one. Is your event open to everyone, or just those interested in a certain topic? If you are trying to attract people who work in the same field as your company/department and want them to attend, then it would be wise to choose a theme that supports that goal. That way, you know they will be more likely to attend.
The number of sessions is another important detail to consider when planning a conference. Is the goal of your event for people to have a good time while being educated, or is it more so for them to be productive and finish work that they otherwise might not be able to get done? If you want everyone in attendance to learn something new and make important connections, then you may want to plan for multiple sessions throughout your conference. If you are trying to give people variety and opportunities to network, maybe 2-3 sessions are enough, and the rest of the time should be spent in networking activities (e.g., lunch/reception).
5. Food & Drinks
Feeding your attendees is one of the most important aspects of holding a conference. People will be spending many hours at your event, so you want to make sure they are well-fed and hydrated throughout the day. Some people may not be able to attend during lunchtime because of their work schedule, so provide food during breaks and dinner. Consider whether meals should be included in registration or if people should pay for them on-site. Make sure the venue has a kitchen/place to prepare food and enough serving lines so everyone can get through without being too crowded. Some conference venues have cafeterias within the building where you can have your meals provided, but if not, then consider nearby restaurants where people can go for lunch.
6. Travel arrangements
Travel can be a huge hassle, especially during the summer months when many people are going on vacation, and planes/trains/buses are more crowded. You also have to think about the location of your conference concerning nearby airports, bus stations, and train stations. For example, if you are holding your conference in Boston but it is only accessible by plane, you need to make sure there is a nearby airport that can accommodate all the people flying in from other places. You also want people to attend your conference, so providing transportation options for attendees is a must. If you do not have a lot of budget room for your conference, then you might want to consider hosting it in a city easily accessible by car.
The success of a conference event is dependent on many different factors. You need to consider the timing, location, theme, and the number of sessions, as well as food and drinks and transportation options, before you can finalize your event. The article has provided some helpful advice for all these important details that will help ensure a successful conference from start to finish.