Make your next company conference the best yet

PLANNING a conference can be fun and hard work in equal measure. Organisers will be looking to put together something that is welcoming, awe-inspiring and leaves attendees with new knowledge to take home.

If a successful conference is what you are after, keep in mind these super six tips when you’re planning your next event.

Preparation is key

Keep all your information in the one place. You can never be too organised or have too many details. Have tabs for budget and costs, agenda and presenters, attendees and rsvp’s, as well as meals and special dietary requirements.

Sage Hotels Wollongong’s, Corporate Events Coordinator, Paige Thiele, has seen enough conferences to know what is required for a successful event and her number one tip is preparation is key.

“Take the time to prepare for your conference prior to booking the venue and arranging the catering,” Paige said.

“The more details you have the easier organising the specifics will be. This tip may even help you to set a realistic budget and stick with it!”

The venue must tick all the boxes

With your guests expected to sit for the best part of the day and often for a couple of hours on end, you need to think carefully about comfort.

It may sound trite but pick somewhere where the seating is butt-friendly.

The venue will also have a big effect on the overall feel. The theme you’ve chosen will inform a lot of your decisions. Do you want a spotlight on the speakers or warm lighting over everyone? Do you mind whether people use their laptops?

Do you want to provide an area for people to work if needed? Is there onsite accommodation for interstate visitors?

So many decisions add to the overall feel. Use your judgement — you should know what attendees want more than anyone.

Design an agenda that rocks

Paige says make your conference memorable by really thinking about the agenda ahead of time and booking special guests early.

“The agenda is the frame work of your conference. Ensure your agenda is interesting and will keep your audience engaged,” Paige said.

“Consider a special guest or entertainment to make your conference one that all delegates will remember.”

Know your audience

Those attending your conference will be hoping to get lots from it; time after all is money to busy people so make it count.

To this end Paige suggests you get to know your audience.

“Who is your audience?

“Who will benefit from your conference?

“What will they take from the event?” she asks.

“Take the time to determine your target market to ensure you get the best possible turn out.”

Paige also suggests giving delegates time to network during the conference, to relax and unwind while having a chat with their peers.

“Networking allows delegates to engage in discussions and seek potential opportunities with colleagues and professionals within the industry,” Paige said.

Feed them well

Food becomes all important when people are brought together and asked to concentrate for long periods of time.

Figure out in advance the cost per person, the type of food you want to provide - hot or cold, buffet or sit-down - and any special dietary requirements or local delicacies you’d like to serve. Meet with the caterer and make sure they are able to meet your requirements.

Bringing it all together

Planning and running a conference is a lot of work so put together a team you can rely on. The team should be able to get excited by your plans but also aren’t afraid to give a reality check if those ideas are proving too hard to achieve.

As with all successful events, communication is key so whether it is the venue you choose, the special guest coming, the technical expert, they all need to know what is required of them and the time frames they are working towards.

*Sponsored by Sage Hotels Wollongong