Conferences and Events: Don’t Agonize, Organize

Planning paralysis was creeping up on Phil. Every time he looked back at what needed to be done to complete the event successfully, he found himself tinkering; changing and adding activities that did not really add any value to the event he had been tasked with managing. He had to grab hold of this project and move it along.

Once the planning is done and you have your team, a venue and a workable framework for the timetable; it’s time to get organizing. As the event manager the buck stops with you but that doesn’t mean that you have to do everything. Make sure you delegate tasks and activities effectively and you will end up being less stressed and more productive.

Booking the venue

The very first priority is to make sure that the venue is booked weeks, if not months in advance. You need to be really finicky about how this is done and have the venue confirm every detail of your requirements. Most venues have Conferencing staff whose job it is to make sure that the checklists are all complete well before the event but please remember that the Conferencing management team usually work 9 to 5 whilst the team you will deal with at the venue will work shifts and, if yours is a long event, you’ll be dealing with many different faces on the venue staff team. For this reason it is good practice to establish a single point of contact in both camps who will be guaranteed to get a quick decision on any issues that occur.

Information gathering

As well as providing the venue with a long, detailed list of your needs, it is important that you use this early contact with them to gather as much information as you can that will be useful in selling the event.

Things to consider that will add value to your sales proposition and provide a complete picture of what to expect are:

* A location map and travel guide. Quantity (No. of delegates + 20)

* The venue’s own marketing brochure. Quantity (No. of delegates + 20)

* Details of check-in and check-out times for accommodation.

* Details of venue facilities – restaurant, bars, gym, pool, spa, etc.

* Details of nearby facilities – golf courses, sports facilities, casinos, bars, restaurants.

* Any major work scheduled on or close to the venue while your event is running (e.g. drilling, building work, decoration).

* Other organizations using the venue at the same time; to avoid competitive interest.

Expect your delegates to ask the most obscure questions about the venue and be prepared to astound them by having the answers at your fingertips.

Conferencing requirements

When you book the venue, your detailed needs might be very sketchy because everything is still in the design phase, so you should make an appointment with the Conferencing staff to return once everything has been firmed up, say, two weeks before the event. You should be as thorough as you can be in providing the venue with information to help them to serve you well. Once they are aware of the total scope of your requirements, they can let you know what is on offer.

The following is a typical Conference checklist.

* Number of persons

* Time of arrival

* Time of departure

* Coffee/tea on arrival

* Coffee/tea during break

* Time of breaks

* No. of rooms

* Room sizes

* Room Layouts

* Lunch

* Equipment

* No. of Tables

* with tablecloths

* place setting

* blotter

* pad of paper

* pencil

* name plate

* water and fruit

* squash

* glasses

* hard sweets

By throwing himself into actively organizing the event, Phil effectively broke out of the planning loop he had been spinning around in. As soon as he started talking with the major players who would be involved in putting the event together, the project started to take on a life of its own. His job then became one of steering rather than pushing.

© 2011-

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