The small conference
What many people don’t realise when they put a conference together is that the conference becomes a mouthpiece for the company or brand being promoted. Everything from the size of the conference, the venue, the food and concessions, to the speakers and gift bags tell a story that forms part of the impression that delegates leave with at the end of the day.
A small, tailor-made event may be exactly what conveys the right message to attendees. With that in mind, there are several important things to consider before the invitations are even designed.
There are two important things to consider at the outset: who is your audience and why do you need to hold a conference in the first place? No matter what kind of scale of event you have in mind, the audience will most likely determine the why, where and what. A group of IT CEOs will have a different energy and atmosphere compared to an event focused on pre-primary school teachers.
Work out what the purpose of the conference is. Is it an annual event? Is it an awards event? Or is it perhaps to introduce new technology or techniques into your industry? Having settled the who and why, everything else forms around those two things.
Setting up a bespoke, or custom designed conference, means that you get to work closely with your venue and planners in order to get the right message across to the audience. At this point, it is vital to consider the budget you’ve been given. Many companies and venues are open to negotiation, with some hotels being able to give reduced rates on per head costs, thus bringing your spend on the venue down.
And if you can save on venue costs, you can certainly get in the top speakers related in your industry. Remember that people come to conferences to learn and engage. Having a vibrant and engaging speaker will ensure that the audience’s interest is held, and may mean that they book their slot for the next year. An important consideration, of course, is food. It is a good idea to plan meal and beverage breaks every few hours. A good venue will assist in creating excellent lunches and snacks for guests based around the conference theme if necessary.
Everything in the conference is a statement. For that reason, it is essential to work hand in hand with the planners at the venue to ensure that your event is getting the right message across to delegates. With a custom made event, you get to control that message and the impression left on those who attend.
Written by Andrew van Hasselt, General Manager of DaVinci Hotel, Sandton.
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