Conferences are the hub of the networking wheel for any type of business, whether it is health care, banking, or bell ringing. They are where people who don’t know each other, get together to learn and discuss new and old concepts of working; they then go back to their businesses, taking this knowledge, and use it to inform their practices.
There are certain essential aspects of conferencing which must be adhered to, in order to improve the attractiveness of the event to delegates, and also for an event to run without hitches. This last is important, since the delegates are there to concentrate on the conference, not on problems and errors. So here are five essentials you must ensure you get right:
A suitable venue is not necessarily a large one. It depends on the size of the conference. If thousands of delegates are expected to arrive, the O2 arena could be perfect; however, hotels of differing sizes offer excellent conferencing rates and can often be knocked down on the price. Sometimes it might also be necessary to match the venue with the type of business which is meeting. For example, a conference for bell ringers could be better held in a cathedral than a hotel.
Food is a big bugbear for many people, especially those who are used to travelling and living out a suitcase. Business people often feel they have seen it all as far as conference food is concerned, and fresh, new approaches (with a cautious edge) to catering are always a better choice than the standard stodgy mini sausage rolls. Included in catering should be facilities for tea and coffee. Biscuits and cakes are not always essential, but are likely to improve the offer. Refreshment facilities should be placed in a room away from the main event. This can act as a breakout room, a place where people can go to talk without worrying they might be disrupting the event, and somewhere that they can relax briefly.
3) Keynote Speaker
A keynote speaker is usually a very well-known member of the particular business group which is meeting. At a music festival he or she would be called a ‘headliner’, often the main reason why people go to that particular event. The keynote speaker draws in the crowds and effectively enables the conference to take place. Remember, the better known the speaker, the better the crowds.
4) Disability Access
It might seem obvious, but disability access to the venue and all the rooms involved with the event is extremely important. Bell ringers might be able to meet in a cathedral, but none of the events should take place in a random bell tower.
5) On-site Parking
On-site parking is worth its proverbial weight in gold. It provides peace of mind for delegates who can leave their cars within walking distance of the venue (preferably nearby) and it increases the relative value of the venue. It also improves the likelihood of attendance, since a car park immediately increases the convenience of the event.
Conferences can require complex organisation, but the above five items are designed to encourage delegates to leave their busy lives for a day or two, and to ensure that they enjoy their attendance once there.
About the Author
Sam Luther is an experienced events management professional.