From business exhibitions to staff training, award ceremonies to an industry conference, any corporate event takes considerable time and effort to organise. Whether you lead the events team, or have been given the task of arranging an event for the first time, it can be a daunting task. By enlisting the support of colleagues and potential facilitators, you stand a far greater chance of success.
Your Conference Audience
Firstly, it is good to visualise the event as a marketing opportunity. As with any marketing campaign, the starting point is to gather a clear understanding of your target audience. Other people may be invited and may attend, but focusing on your target audience will help you plan every other aspect of the event, from the content to a suitable conference venue.
The Business Purpose
As with marketing campaigns, the event needs to also have a clear business purpose. What does your company gain from putting on the event and what will the attendees gain from giving up valuable time in the workplace? Will the event enhance knowledge, progress a new initiative, reward success or solve a problem? Understanding the benefits for everyone involved will help you to promote your event to others including sponsors, potential attendees, exhibitors and senior management.
Before you select a date for your event, it is worth researching what you might be competing against. What other industry or business events are being held that attendees may be drawn to? Do certain dates clash with the end of the financial year or other key targets? Are there other events that seem to be working on the same subject areas for debate, discussion and sharing? People simply can’t be in two places at once, so avoiding clashes can increase your success rate.
The next stage is to write a list of everything that you need to organise. From the conference venue, parking and transportation, to catering, resources and speakers there are obvious items to arrange. In addition there are things that can easily be overlooked until the last minute, such as delegate badges, water for the table and an objective way to measure the success of the event.
You then need to consider your list of items against your budget. Are your plans financially achievable? Where might you need to cut back and where can you afford to provide more to enhance the experience? It is worth setting aside a contingency fund, so you have a buffer for any last minute or unexpected costs.
With a budget, possible dates, a clear understanding of your event and the ideal attendees, you are ready to find a suitable conference venue. Your target audience should help you to narrow down the geographical location. Finding the right venue can be a task, but you should take time to visit a shortlist of options. This will give you a feel for the place, as well as a practical insight into issues such as parking, room sizes and available facilities. Compare like for like when you are deciding on a suitable conference venue, as in some items will be included in a standard package, but you will have to pay extra at another venue.
At times you may need to be a little flexible with your plans; for example if you get a greater response than was expected, or receive particular requests from exhibitors and speakers. Finding a venue with various room sizes and a degree of flexibility can help you keep the event on track. Commuter towns can be more practical than city centre conference venues. Bucks, Berks, Surrey, Herts and Essex may be easier in terms of transport and parking for delegates than heading into London in peak traffic.
The Clare Charity Centre http://clarecharitycentre.org/ in Buckinghamshire has good facilities for SME business events of all types. With outside and interior space for hire, we have catered for a wide range of events and activities. On a mainline train line between London and Birmingham and located close to the motorway network, we can provide an ideal location for corporate events and business meetings.