Where does the year go? Suddenly the nights have drawn in, Christmas is fast approaching and all those New Year projects that seemed a long way off are just around the corner. Far from tailing off at the end of the year, this could be a highly productive time for planning your 2015 and even 2016 events.
Whether you are working on one large event, or a series of smaller ones, it can seem like a mountain has to be climbed. There are so many different elements to consider and it generally takes a team of people, rather than an individual to successfully pull it off. If you have been assigned the job of event planning, the first stage is to rope in others who can help you get the job done.
Another good starting point is to write a comprehensive list of every task that needs to be achieved. It can be easier to tackle one area at a time; venue, catering, marketing, attendees, technology, delivery etc. and go into as much detail as possible. Again, involving a number of people can help you to list the majority of points for consideration.
Once your lists are prepared, it is time to identify the things that need to take priority; you can’t invite people until you at least have a date and a venue. Delegate jobs to others that have particular expertise and can help you work through the lists.
You can also benefit from getting advice through online forums, colleagues and professionals that you meet during the preparation. As an example, the staff at your chosen conference venue may be able to advise on catering, timings, room layouts and local accommodation that have been used successfully at previous events.
Conference venues vary considerably in size, location and facilities, so finding the best option will be dependent on what your event will feature and the expected number of attendees. It can be valuable to visit a number of potential conference venues before making the decision. Don’t judge on appearances alone; consider all your potential guests by finding out about public transport, space for car parking, catering for dietary requirements, accommodation options and accessibility.
It may be tempting to opt for a conference venue that is located in a city centre, but this can present problems for attendees who have to travel in rush hour traffic and may limit car parking space. Sometimes a rural location can tick more of your requirements. For example, The Clare Charity Centre http://clarecharitycentre.org/ in the Chiltern Hills may not immediately seem a convenient option, but the village is on the mainline route between London and Birmingham. The station is within walking distance from the centre, which is also served by a regular bus route.
There is plenty of free, on-site parking and both indoor and outdoor spaces for hire so it could be worth adding the Clare Charity Centre to your list of potential conference venues. Bucks is also a commutable distance from Herts, Oxon and Berks and profits made from venue hire are ploughed into a foundation that supports local charities.
Finding What You Need
Once you have a date and a venue, you can begin work on searching for relevant speakers, exhibitors and audience members. There are lots of opportunities to search online through industry specific forums, keyword searches and event databases. These may also direct you towards event sponsors or partners for the events. Online tools such as Eventbrite can be valuable for managing your events, bookings and payment.
If you are planning on running a number of events over the coming years, or have one big showcase in the pipeline, you may also be interested in attending the Event Production Show at Olympia, London on 18 & 19 February. This will include everything from practical advice to technological innovations that could transform your event.