Successful conference management has its challenging requirements – you have to be able to manage limited budgets, time and personnel.
In this blog we discuss 10 key principles for successful conference management. As a summary of best practice experiences, you will not only learn about the importance of streamlined conference marketing, but also about ways to improve the overall conference experience for your delegates.
1. Diligently plan your conference
Effective forward planning helps to run an improved conference. You need to include all the relevant information when planning your event – note the important stages of your event timeline (working back from the event date), define your goals for the event i.e. how many attendees to obtain a breakeven, and look at sponsorship and exhibition ideas to accompany the conference to add additional revenue streams. Have a proper plan for the entire project with a proper timetable – create and share your schedule with everyone involved.
2. Improve time management
Excellent organisational skills are fundamental to reduce the number of systems in place – systems such as delegate registration and post conference analysis; keeping information on attendees in a central easily accessible place; and having a good team around you to share information when needed.
3. Make your conference marketing work more efficiently for you
A professional CRM tool is essential to support your marketing efforts and sales team – it will help define strategy groups; create profiles of attendees and speakers; filter data so that you can identify easily who attended the event last time if it is a repeat; directly send out campaigns using the software; and keep track of campaigns at various stages e.g. premail, email, follow-up email.
Bring marketing and sales in as early in the process as possible and keep them in the loop. Think of them as part of your team, not as a separate service – great teams make great events.
4. Use of social media
Use it for your marketing activities and to converse with your delegates on a personal level prior to the event – set up social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. Consider using social media before, during, and after your event.
5. Pay attention to the importance of event details
Keep refining your operational tasks at the various conference stages as the event approaches. Set up a detailed function sheet for the conference including the exact dates / time / location / contact persons; integrate this stage of the conference planning with any exhibitions being held alongside; store these in a central place for the team to access; and set up automatic diary reminders where needed – this will ensure everyone works as a team and knows who to go to if any problems.
6. Brand your conference
Make sure you conference has a strong positive brand within the sector it is targeting by making it synonymous with the target market. Make sure you align corporate, product and internal brands. Successful event branding involves more than just slapping your company logo on the brochure / website – it’s about creating a unique experience for the attendees, one that keeps them engaged while also consistently reminding them of your brand.
7. Online presence
Make sure the conference website has a consistent look and feel – it should include all information about the event e.g. programme, speakers, how to register, how to submit papers and make sure online registration is easy to use.
8. Add value to your conference service
For example, introduce a mobile attendee app – where you can publish at short notice information about changes to sessions, speakers, venue etc. Attendees can create a personal conference agenda online, use self-registration and check in.
9. Keep an eye on key metrics of defined goals
By this we mean quick reporting tools for delegate lists, registration numbers to events; real time analysis of cost and revenue generated per event; comparisons against a benchmark event; and looking at the actual performance versus the original budget.
10. Evaluate your performance
Continually evaluate your performance with qualitative and quantitative feedback from all parties concerned with the event i.e. delegates, speakers, exhibitors and the internal team. Never lose sight of the end goal/event objective. Frequently take a step back and re-evaluate your direction. It is easy to get swept away with the planning and then post event realise that you went off-track.
So to recap, in order to improve your conference experience for the attendees and ultimately deliver more value to them:
- Learn tools to brand your conference through improved online appearance
- Discover methods to improve time management
- Create better reports for conference analysis
Above all, keep control of all the various conference stages and involve all of the team.