Whilst planning a meeting (especially an informal one) is generally easy and straightforward, planning a conference is an altogether different matter. You probably have to contend with a greater number of participants, for one. Secondly, you may have to plan the conference in a big venue, which entails additional time and effort (especially if you have to make an ocular inspection). If you want your conference to be successful, you’d have to plan it at least a few months in advance. Here’s what you should know about the most important stages of planning a conference.
Selecting the team
First of all, identify and set up the team who will be planning the conference with you. After all, you can’t do it alone. This group will be responsible for fulfilling the different roles and responsibilities associated with the conference, and the number of team members will often depend on how big your conference will be. Once you have determined the conference team, schedule a meeting so you can lay out your goals and objectives and prepare the specifications of the project. At this meeting, you should also lay out your budget. The budget should include the venue, equipment, catering, transportation, accommodation for guests, entertainment, etc. You should also agree on a specific timeline and deadlines for tasks and responsibilities.
The second stage
The second stage of planning a conference would be looking for the right venue. Prepare a checklist for the type of venue you are looking for, including specifics on what you require from the venue. If you need a venue which can provide your guests with accommodations (such as a conference venue Midlands like Heythrop Park, which has both the Crowne Plaza hotel and Heythrop Park Resort), then note this down. Check different venues and ask for proposals from each. Remember to check the venue’s availability and the availability of your key speakers. This is also the time to prepare your visual aids and other materials, such as handouts and presentations.
The third stage
Once you have gone through different prospective venues and found the one you like, confirm and book it. At this stage, you should also confirm your guests’ attendance and confirm arrangements for transportation, catering, accommodation, social activities, and entertainment. Make it a point to check the computer and audio visual equipment you need as well.
The fourth stage
The fourth stage is where you arrive at the venue (make sure you arrive at least a day earlier than the participants). Do a last-minute check of all the elements – the meeting rooms, the equipment, the catering and entertainment, and so on. You should also make sure that someone is assigned to man the entrance of the venue so participants will be properly greeted and settled in.