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Planning a Conference

Planning a conference can be overwhelming for many people. If this is your first conference, it helps to use a conference checklist to remember all of the details that go into planning a conference. The good news is that planning is fairly easy when you organize everything ahead of time. Use these tips to help you plan a great conference.

Identify Your Audience

Before you can book your venue and print materials, you need to know who your target audience is. Consider why certain people might have an interest in attending the conference, and think about what you can do to entice them to come. Make a list of the things customers will deem important so you know how to attract the right speakers and presenters for the meeting.


Choose a Date and Location

Once you know you will have a sizeable attendance at the conference, you need to set the date and location. Check with other companies to see if they are hosting their own conferences and when they are planning on doing it. You want to set your conference far in the future to give people time to set their budgets for it.

Some companies like to host conferences in the fall while others opt for the spring. To help you decide which time of year to host a conference, think about the city where you plan to hold the event. You want to find a location with plenty of activities for people to do when they are not at the conference.


Find a Venue

Now that you have the date and the city prepared, you need to look for a venue. Seek out a hotel with of room for the conference attendees. How many rooms do they have for the various sessions that will occur? Do they have plenty of rooms for the guests? Will they be able to provide catering services and other needs for the conference? Look for a venue designed to host conferences, as this will make it easier for your planning and for the conference to go off without a hitch.


Amenities

When you plan a conference, you must consider the proximity of the venue to downtown, the airport, and other important locations. You should find a venue that can provide airport shuttle services and where guests will be able to access local transportation so they can go downtown and enjoy other activities.


Finding Sponsors

Since a conference can be expensive, it helps to find some sponsors to help. Sponsors can donate money, services, or materials. Catering companies can help sponsor a conference with their food. Transportation companies might help by offering free shuttle services. Depending upon your audience's demographics and the number of people coming, you should be able to find sponsors in your field. Just remember to allow them to advertise to make their sponsorship worth their time and investment.


Make it Personable

Some conferences tend to become a 3-day session of lectures. To make your conference memorable, look for ways to make it more exciting. Instead of having lecture after lecture, consider workshops or other interactive events. Look for ways to let the attendees have a fun experience, giving them the desire to attend future conferences.