A business conference can offer a wide range of opportunities – allowing delegates to learn new skills and to network; for brands to connect with potential customers; and for thought leaders to develop their audience. However, if you are hoping to organise a conference it can be tough to know where to start. Here are some tips on how to get a plan in place.
The first step is to decide on who your event is for. That might mean targeting an area of technology, a specific industry or a specialism within a given field – and considering whether there are other competing events that may be serving the same audience. You can then tighten or widen the scope of this with a theme, anchoring the event on a trend or an area of focus. The key question to ask yourself is how you will provide value to each of the audiences (delegates, speakers and sponsors) who you hope to attract to the event.
Develop a business plan
With a broad concept of what your business conference is going to entail, you now need to get a plan in place. Based on your area of focus, how many delegates do you anticipate will attend? Given this, what kind of budget will you need? Keep in mind that planning and promotion are large scale projects, so you should give yourself six months to a year to get everything in place, depending on the scale of your event.
This then gives you a timeline for setting out tasks, priorities and deadlines. With this you should begin to pencil in a date for the event, looking at where it sits in the year – for example, the UK’s largest toy and game trade show, Toy Fair, is in January, some 11 months before the festive buying season.
You’ll also want to avoid public holidays and periods when people are likely to be away – such as Easter or the August holiday season. Perhaps most importantly, if you want to attract a business audience, your event should be during the working week – as relatively few people will want to go to work at the weekend.
Build your team
Realistically you’re not going to be going it alone but will need help in organising and managing your event. There’s a large amount of work to be done, from securing the venue and filling the agenda to registering delegates and simply manning the event, so you’ll want to have designated support in each of these areas.
Depending on how you are financing your event, you may well want to bring sponsors on board, looking at the major players in your area of focus. You’ll also have to decide on how much decision-making power they have and what role you’re giving them – for example, will they be allocated keynote slots; will their logo appear on all event equipment; and will they have influence over the theme of the event.
Book the venue
This is a critical step for the feel of the event. You should now have a rough outline of the event that you’re putting together and the kind of facilities that you’ll need, which will determine what venues are likely to be suitable. You should also keep in mind the location – is your area of focus geographically centred on a particular area? If so, go to them. Coming with a range of function spaces and accommodation, you might consider universities and hotels for your venue. Other settings, like Sci-Tech Daresbury, can provide modern facilities and a professional atmosphere ideal for the full spectrum of conferencing events.
Speakers and agenda
Booking your speakers is a key step in planning your event. Who are the celebrities in your field who will attract delegates to the event and lend it credibility? Keep in mind that you may well have to provide them with (potentially significant) compensation, as well as accommodation. Beyond this, your key priority will be to determine how you can provide value to your attendees with a full conference agenda, offering insights and expertise on the subjects that matter to them with workshops, forums and presentations. Adding another layer are vendors, who will flesh out the event and may well come with presentations of their own – and who will actively pay to reach your audience.
Promotion of your business conference
With the most important pieces in place (including the date and venue), you’ll want to start marketing your event and registering delegates. You should have a website detailing the agenda and what’s on offer, and allowing signups; you will want all your speakers and sponsors to promote their appearances; and you will want to start promoting the event across social media and, likely, on paid channels. Furthermore, you should start reaching out to the press, offering information and invites as well as potential news hooks. And with all the organisational work done, you’re now ready to host your event!
Sci-Tech Daresbury offers high-quality conference and event facilities in Cheshire, within easy reach of Manchester and Liverpool. Conference spaces range from fully equipped meeting rooms to lecture theatres suitable for over 150 delegates. The campus offers competitive rates and tailor-made packages, as well as state-of-the-art audio visual technology, on-site catering and ample free parking.