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 Checklist: Conference Planning

If you have never organised a conference before, here are some questions to help guide you:

 Basic questions:

1. What are the objectives of the conference and who is to attend?

2. How many delegates will there be, and will bedroom accommodation be needed?

3. Where would you like to have the conference and what kind of venue are you looking for?

4. What dates do you prefer and have you a given price range?

 Further issues to be considered:

Who is organising the conference and who is holding the budget for it? (It’s important to have enough resources to do the job well) and what will be the main requirements? (Try and list the day’s activities – draft a schedule what will happen when, what speakers you will need and how you can give the event a little variety, making it both interesting and worthwhile).

 What kind of room layout will you need? (Here are some examples):

 

 Other useful questions and thoughts:

Will there be plenary and breakout (smaller) sessions? (Splitting a large conference into smaller groups or workshops can help your delegates participate more actively, you can also use management games and informal group work to help things along)

 

Do you wish the venue itself to be residential? (About a quarter of conferences are residential, taking place over more than one day. Many conferences are held in hotels, but some are held in conference centres or unusual venues, for which overnight accommodation would be needed nearby)

 

How will your delegates mainly get to the venue? (Although many delegates travel by car, many prefer to use the train, especially for venues outside central London, therefore proximity to both road and rail may be important).

 

Do you wish to see some of the potential venues for yourself? (Having a look at the venue helps you decide whether it is the right one for your event)

 

Do you have special requirements: technical needs, leisure facilities or exhibition space, special dietary or access needs? (If so, do try to mention these when contacting us to find a venue)

 

Can you rehearse important parts, such as presentations, for timing and for equipment? (Rehearsal and testing is very important, especially for any computer generated presentation. There is no guarantee your carefully prepared disc of hot graphics will be compatible with a venue’s equipment, or that you will have used a large enough font for it to be seen from the back of the room, or even that your speakers are properly prepared – so do ask for copies of their material in advance).

 

What’s normally included in the cost?

For non-residential conferences, most venues will quote a ‘day delegate rate’:

This may vary slightly, but will normally cover: Room hire; Tea/coffee on arrival; Delegate writing pads and pens; Flipcharts; OHP and screen; Morning tea/coffee; Lunch; Afternoon tea/coffee; VAT. Often, small extras are also in this rate, such as table water and mints, perhaps even small pastries at the morning and afternoon breaks. It is therefore important to ensure you are comparing like-for-like in quotations.

For residential conferences, a ’24 hour rate’ is usually quoted:

This will include all the above, and also dinner, overnight accommodation and breakfast.

 

Other costs vary, but may include your specialist speakers, various technical equipment or graphics, delegate document wallets and badges, publicity and postage costs, signs, stage sets, flowers etc. It is important to allow for these various things in your budget. If you need advice we are happy to give it.

 

Final thought:

The success of your conference will naturally be judged on what people get out of it, so its important to give it enough attention and resources to help make it work properly. Good Luck!

 

If you need to know more about organising your conference, we recommend:

‘How to organise effective conferences’ by David Seekings, published by Kogan Page, available from your nearest good bookshop or on line bookseller.

 

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