Have you ever been asked to plan a successful conference? With many components to fit together, balancing the needs of delegates, speakers and contractors makes for a demanding environment to manage. To give you a helping hand our Head of Conferences, Sarah Elton‐Wall, provides some useful advice; ensuring your next event is a true success and leaves your delegates wanting more.
1. Plan in advance
Depending on the size of your conference, planning should be made as early as possible. As much as a few months in advance, if we are talking about a large scale conference, but even smaller events need time to place all the pieces of the jigsaw in the right place. Our advice is not to leave less than 6 months before the actual event. If you have a specific venue in mind or if your speakers are hard to book, your timing should depend on these factors.
2. Set a time scale
Whilst we recognise that conferencing can be an ever‐changing environment, timely decisions and meeting supplier’s deadlines will ultimately lead to efficiently executed events and can save you money in costly surcharges and additional transport and staffing costs. Try and respect your supplier’s timescale challenges, and this will pay dividends in the long run.
3. Plan the ideal size of your conference
Conferences can vary a lot in size. In the planning stage it is advisable to decide what sort of event you would like to organise, how many participants, how many speakers, the length of the conference, etc. The main constraint would be probably your budget, and that takes us to the next point.
4. Set a budget
Ultimately we have to bear in mind when organising a conference that our main constraint is probably monetary. The ideal process is to define what will make your conference successful: Location? The speakers? The entertainment? The catering? All these elements can contribute to the success of a conference, but they also affect your costs. Plan two or three different budget levels and go for the one that is more likely to make your conference successful.
5. Choose your speakers
No matter what your niche is, it is very likely that the quality of the speakers can make the conference successful. In many fields, speakers are the stars of the conference, and attendance can be affected by their quality. If good speakers are hard to find, plan well in advance. You don’t want to end up with a superbly organised conference but with little content to share with your audience.
6. Choose the location
The location of a conference is an important factor for its success. You need a place that can be easily reached, well served by public transport and with a good choice of hotels and restaurants in the area, if your conference is going to last for 2‐3 days or more. Read our blog to discover why west London is the perfect location for your next event.
7. Talk to the venue
If planning a successful conference seems like a daunting task for you, or if you don’t have great experience in event management, talk to your venue. They have tons of experience and they are more than willing to share it with you, because your success is the venue’s success too. At Olympia London we really want to understand your event objectives; what you’re trying to achieve, your expectations, audience profile and if there are any behavioural trends. Our experience and knowledge of the venue means that we can suggest bespoke solutions to maximise how our space and services work for you.
8. Choose your suppliers
There are many great suppliers to the MICE industry, if you haven’t already appointed a supplier, are looking to retender, or for a unique and bespoke solution then talk to your venue, chances are they have seen many suppliers working in their space, and can make some valuable introductions. Recognise the experience and expertise your suppliers can bring; engage with them about your objectives and challenges, and they will work alongside you to find solutions.
9. Focus on visitor experience
Live events are still very relevant in today’s market; whilst advancing technologies have enhanced our industry, they can’t replace the element of human interaction. Engaging content, clear objectives and a USP that makes your event unique, different or better than your competitors are all compelling reasons for visitor attendance. Careful consideration should be given to visitor experience and engagement to maximise ROI / ROO and drive customer retention".
10. Take a look at our conference offering
Olympia London can help you plan and create a successful, bespoke conference in the heart of the Capital, from 200‐1,500 delegates. Our team will help you find the perfect fit and with our help planning a successful conference will be a much easier task.