How do you plan a conference? What do you have to consider when organising an event? What belongs on an event checklist and in which order should you work through the individual planning steps?
As an experienced intermediary for organisers of seminars, incentives, congresses and other events, this guide presents five tips for your perfect conference that will make it easier for you to organise an event. We will also be happy to help you personally with event planning – from drawing up a checklist for event planning to selecting a suitable location, supporting programme, gastronomy or overnight accommodation.
But not only conferences can be planned thoroughly with the help of our five expert tips; a similar procedure is recommended if you are currently preparing incentive programmes, a team event or a company outing.
Tip 1: Thorough preparation as a guarantee of success
The success of any conference depends on thorough and timely preparation. On your checklist for meetings, at least the following points should be dealt with in good time:
Conference guests and speakers
Proceed in the order given. First, determine the topic of your conference as precisely as possible. Consider the interests of your guests and the focus of the speakers. What fits together? Should a certain aspect be examined more closely or would you like to give a broad overview of the topic? How should the conference proceed in detail, how do you imagine the relationship between lectures and discussions, working groups or sub-groups to be? Where can breaks be built in and which supporting programme can loosen up the conference?
Tip: Avoid overburdening your participants with a too tight schedule. Consider varied work phases and procedures and plan shorter and longer breaks. You can also make contacts and have intensive discussions at lunch or on a walk.
Obtaining binding commitments and observing favourable times
Once the topic is set, you probably already know who you would like to invite as speakers and guests. Remember that you first need binding commitments before sending out invitations. So ask the speakers you want as early as possible – and take a look at the calendar so you don’t accidentally choose a holiday or compete with popular major events.
For example, don’t hold a conference on self-publishing at a time when the Book Fair is being held in Frankfurt and Leipzig. Unless you deliberately want to offer an alternative event with a generally different orientation.
Planning events: Think of pleasant rooms!
The choice of the right location will be discussed below. But consider at this early stage: participants and speakers will be delighted if the conference does not take place in a poorly ventilated room near any airport or exhibition centre. Offer your speakers an additional incentive to participate in your conference by choosing a location that stands out from 08/15 event rooms in terms of atmosphere and ambience.
Once the speakers have been selected, you will obtain binding offers for the location, catering and accommodation, the supporting programme and, if necessary, the necessary equipment. Finally, formulate an invitation in which all important information is clearly arranged.
Tip 2: Select the right team
You have already defined who you want to invite as a speaker. But don’t forget to coordinate the details when organising events or planning events. This includes the extent to which the speakers will be involved in further planning and what tasks they will take on during the conference.
For example, should the speaker (only) give a lecture? On which aspect exactly and in what length? Will he speak to a specialist audience or to laypersons? Will there be a question and answer session or a panel discussion afterwards? Do you expect the speaker to attend the entire conference or is it sufficient if he or she is present for a limited period?
Coordinate the content and interests of your guests with each other
The invited guests/participants are an important part of your conference team. Match the desired course of the conference and the goals you pursue with the persons and also with the number of participants. At conferences with a very large number of participants, topics can usually only be deepened moderately – then plan working groups or offer different topics so that the large group can split up.
For small groups, it is particularly important that the participants get along well with each other – so if you already know that there is a lot of conflict potential between different guests, invite them to different meeting dates if possible.
Make it as easy as possible for your guests to sign up or cancel their registration by enclosing reply cards and pre-franked envelopes with your invitation. This allows you to plan more precisely and, in the event of a high rejection rate, to persuade other guests to participate if necessary.
Provide a professional service
By choosing your conference hotel, you are finally choosing a team that you will ideally hardly notice: The service staff of the hotel or conference venue, who professionally take care of the preparation, the well-being of your guests, the supporting programme and all other matters to be dealt with during the conference. The more experienced the team is at the chosen venue, the more intensively you can concentrate on the actual course of the conference.
Tip 3: Choose the right location
Which requirements the location for your conference has to fulfil in detail depends on the planned course of events, for example on the supporting programme. If you are organising a conference for the first time and have no concrete idea of how it is to proceed, let yourself be inspired by professional providers. Excellent conference hotels and locations with exclusive and individual offers can be found here.
Irrespective of whether you are talking to organisers or experienced participants, you will be given the following unanimous tips for the choice of location. Your venue should be:
Be easily accessible by various means of transport.
Offer tranquillity and opportunities for relaxation.
Be able to provide your guests with a high standard of catering.
Tip 4: Take care of the well-being of your guests
To ensure that the conference guests feel at home from the very first moment, they are warmly welcomed and given the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the location. At a one-day event, it is advantageous to have at least some soft drinks available; before an event lasting several days, give your guests the opportunity to move into their rooms first, so that they can start the conference together without worrying about the suitcases still in the car.
Generally speaking, the less thought the participants have to give, the easier they can get involved with the conference, the more pleasant and successful the conference will be. If your budget allows, think of meals, snacks and drinks during the breaks, and experienced service personnel who are discreet but alert to the well-being of your guests in the background.