Organising a conference is a huge responsibility, with months of dedicated planning required to bring it all together, only for it all to be over in a flash! It certainly takes great strength of character and exceptional organisation skills to succeed in surpassing delegate’s expectations these days.
If you’re delegates are paying to attend your conference, they will be looking for value for money, so there is even more pressure placed on organising each element to perfection.
Is it possible to pull off a conference where everyone goes away happy? Whilst you can try to be all things to all people, you’ll likely fail! The beauty of people is their ability to have very different views and needs, what will please one person may invariably irk another! However, in general, there are some specific areas that tend to be the highest risk when it comes to failing or succeeding in the eyes of your conference delegates.
Information and Communications
Ineffective communications is one of the most common places you can fall down in your conference planning. After all, there is a very fine line between too much information and too little! How do you get the balance just right? With our mailboxes filling with spam on a daily basis it vital to keep communications succinct and informative. People lead busy lives and the last thing they want is to be bombarded with lengthy emails and attachments. Therefore, its best to take a less is more approach, ensuring each communication serves a very specific purpose. There are of course companies that specialise in helping you to create effective communications and campaigns, so it may be worth investing in external support here.
How smooth your registration process is can make or break your delegate’s first impressions. It is here that small errors like the incorrect spelling of a name can really cause problems. Investing in effective software or services that provide the opportunity for a seamless registration process is well worth it. With the ability to quickly and easily reprint ID badges, you are far less likely to encounter issues that will upset your delegates and give rise to complaints or negative feedback.
The venue you choose to hold your conference in really does set the scene for your event. Some of the most common complaints delegates have when attending conferences are usually in relation to the venue. The location, parking facilities, lighting, décor, accessibility and temperature control are all areas which can have potential for moans and groans. Ensure the venue you choose is fit for purpose and ideally set up specifically for holding conferences. In doing so, you will lower the risk of complaints and hopefully avoid unhappy delegates.
We all love food, don’t we?! It is a subject that causes quite the emotional response in people, albeit positive or negative! Furthermore, your delegates will likely have been to many a conference, so be prepared for some direct comparisons. Do you want to stand out from the crowd with creative catering or go for the safe beige buffet affair?! Don’t be afraid to go above and beyond here. It’s an area that will have your delegates talking regardless, so choose wisely to ensure its compliments that have got them nattering!
The content of your conference is what your delegates are there for! They want whatever is on offer – knowledge, ideas, insights or opportunities. The content itself and the delivery of it, is fundamental to the overall success of your event and could see your conference soar or sink. If you are organising an educational event, whilst it may seem like a good idea to choose cheap or free speakers or presenters, this is a risky decision. Hiring quality, high calibre keynote speakers from a speaker bureau will give you far more opportunities to wow your delegates and give them the quality content they are paying for.
The underlying rule here is to invest in these high risk areas rather than trying to skimp and save. After all, there are plenty of other areas you can do this. You will be thankful when you receive your near perfect feedback and see your conference attendance continuing to grow year on year.