Your Complete Guide to Conference Management

Your company’s growth strategy is built on the foundation of conferences. For internal events such as sales meetings and board retreats, as well as external ones such as product launches and press briefings, and annual general meetings, they are a crucial vehicle for modern communication. Conferences are a great way to get your message in front of the right people, whether you’re looking to increase revenue, generate leads, boost sales, or train your employees.

 

Conference management is becoming increasingly important as meetings and conferences become more integral to your company’s overall strategy. To give you an idea of what we’ll cover in this handy guide to ‘Conference Management,’ here are some highlights:

Trends towards creating more custom-made, immersive experiences using modern event planning software as well as virtual and augmented reality will be driving growth in the MICE sector.

Demand for efficient conference management is likely to grow as more meetings and conferences are planned. But first, let’s define conferences and the various types of conferences that occur in the industry to better understand conference management.

 

What is a Conference?

A conference is a formal meeting where people come together to talk about a certain topic. It could be intellectually rigorous, business, or purely political. The main goal of organising a conference is to inform, educate, and raise awareness about the subject of the meeting.

 

What is a Virtual Conference?

In these uncertain times, many small and big events have had to move to virtual settings. A virtual conference lets all of your attendees connect even though they may not be in the same place as each other at the same time. If you have breakout rooms, interesting content, and motivating keynote speakers, a virtual conference can be just as effective as one that takes place in person, if not more so. Moving a conference online makes it easier for people to get in, which means they don’t have to travel or spend money to go.

 

Types of Conferences

The various conferences organised are:

 

Seminar

This is an interactive session in which one or two speakers guide the audience conversation. A seminar is informative and educational in nature, with the goal of imparting some skills or knowledge to the audience, such as digital marketing skills, real estate advice, personal finance and investment tips, and so on.

 

Workshop

Workshops are less formal and rely heavily on participant participation. In comparison to seminars, they are more focused on teaching new skills to participants under the supervision of an instructor.

 

Round-table

This is a session in which the participants engage in lively discussions and debates. There is no emcee, and each speaker has a set amount of time.

 

Symposium

A symposium is a small conference where several experts discuss a single topic. It is usually completed in a single day.

 

Events vs. Conferences vs. Conventions

‘Events’ is a catch-all term for any type of organised gathering, from corporate meetings and business conferences to birthdays and weddings. Both conferences and conventions are classified as events; however, conventions serve a completely different purpose. They are more casual in nature, have more participation and interaction than traditional conferences, and cater to specific industries, professions, and fandoms, such as the London Comic-Con.

 

Conference Management Is Required

With conferences of all sizes and complexities being organised on a regular basis, there is a growing demand for event planners to become more skilled at conference management. You must oversee the successful execution of the entire project from start to finish, including allocating budgets, optimising resources, monitoring team members and tasks, and ensuring a smooth onsite experience.

Here’s a thought-provoking analogy. Consider the conference to be a single, colourful tapestry that you must weave using different coloured threads to represent event budgeting, venue sourcing, registration, onsite experiences, post-event feedback, and so on. But how do you manage these threads efficiently so that you don’t end up with a tangled mess?

This is where conference management can come in handy. With so many tasks to complete, phone calls to make, people to manage, and things to keep track of, the job can quickly become stressful. You can easily achieve your event goals, reduce costs, and increase attendee satisfaction if you have a proper conference management plan in place. So, what are the various approaches to conference management that can be taken?

 

In-house Conference Management Processes

The conference can be organised in-house if sufficient resources and manpower are available within the organisation.

 

Partnerships in collaboration

Event planners may occasionally collaborate with agencies or professionals to provide specialised services such as website design, survey management, and so on.

 

Organizers from outside organisations

Several businesses hire third-party organisers to provide full-service conference management. These third-party service providers have a solid market reputation and use cutting-edge conference management software and tools to manage the event from start to finish.

 

Process of Conference Management

A successful conference requires meticulous planning. Each step of the conference management process must be meticulously planned. Here’s a quick checklist to help you decide how to proceed:

 

Step 1: What are your conference objectives?
First and foremost, you must determine the purpose of your conference.

1)Promote memberships?
2) Elevate brand awareness?
3) Are you launching a new product?
4) Do you want to increase your revenue?

Because the way you organise your conference will ultimately be determined by your end goal, the first step is to sit down, brainstorm, and list your objectives.

 

Step 2: Completing the budget
Work on the overall budget after you’ve determined the purpose of your conference. What will your major and minor expenses be? Investigate the various sponsorship options available, and then make a list of all the costs involved, such as:

  • Venue personnel
  • Accommodation and transportation
  • Food and beverages
  • Speakers Sound system
  • A/V equipment for entertainment
  • WiFi
  • Promotion and marketing
  • Various production costs

 

Once this is completed, add an additional 10-15% to the total costs because cost overruns are always possible.

 

Step 3: Establishing operations
This is the point at which you start the conference management process. Form a conference planning and execution team, assign specific tasks, and develop completion timelines. To get the best deals on hotels and transportation, contact vendors ahead of time and finalise the prices.

 

Step 4: Selecting speakers
Speakers are an essential component of your conference and a key factor in attracting more attendees. Shortlist the relevant speakers for your conference based on your budget and contact them to inquire about their availability. Once you’ve finalised your list, contact the speakers and provide them with a handbook that includes a summary of the conference, the goals you hope to achieve, and the information you want to disseminate to attendees.

 

Step 5: Create a website, mobile apps, and digital marketing campaigns
It is essential for any conference to have a well-designed, easy-to-use website that provides information about the event programme and allows for easy pre-registration of attendees. You’ll also need dedicated digital and social media marketing teams if you want to generate more buzz in the digital space by distributing engaging content. This could be done in-house or through collaboration with agencies that provide specialised services. Marketing can end up being a significant cost component, so make sure you plan ahead of time.

 

Step 6: Plan onsite operations and review equipment specifications
Schedule onsite operations with your team to conduct a conference dry run at the venue. Is the audio/video equipment in good working order? Are the decorations in keeping with the conference’s theme? Is there going to be a technical support team on hand to assist the speakers onstage or to handle any emergencies? It only takes one hiccup and last-minute hiccup to turn your conference into a disaster, so stay on top of things!

In a nutshell
Having a good conference management plan will help you figure out a good plan for your short-term and long-term goals. Before planning a conference, it is important to know what your attendees want and what will make them want to come back for more. This way, you can make sure that your event meets their needs.

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