Even though there are numerous tasks involved in properly planning a conference, you can use our helpful checklist to make sure you don't leave anything out. From talking with the caterers to choosing the venue and sending out invites, here's everything you need to know to organise your next conference.
Ideally, you will want to start the planning process 16 to 18 months in advance. The larger the event, the more time you will need to plan. If you don't have 16 to 18 months to prepare for your next event, you can adjust the suggested time guideline below to meet your needs.
16-18 Months Before the Event
Set Goals with Your Planning Committee
First, you need to set goals and objectives for your event. What is the purpose of the event? Next, you're going to build a planning committee that can help you bring these goals to life. The planning committee will need to determine how many attendees you are going to invite, which will help in determining how much space you need. This is also the point at which you will set an exact date for the event to take place.
Work out the Budget
Your planning committee will also be in charge of developing a preliminary budget as well as soliciting sponsorship. Even if you already have a budget in place to pay for the event, soliciting sponsorship is an excellent way to minimize your out-of-pocket costs.
Find a Venue
Now you will want to choose a venue. Keep in mind there will likely be several venues that can accommodate the space and purpose of your event, so you'll want to visit each one in person to get an idea of which one is the best fit. Once you choose which venue is best suited to meet the event's needs, you'll want to secure it with a deposit.
Think about Themes
If the event is going to have a theme, you need to pinpoint any specifics, and you'll also start incorporating theme specifics into your event's marketing plan. You might find it helpful to build a website centered around the event and its theme, or at least a page on your current website or company intranet. This page can even used as an the event registration platform.
Develop Event Master Plan
Send out Invitations and Finalise Any Contracts
As far as "save the date" notices, you can send them via postal mail, email, or both. And if any additional contracts need to be secured with providers, such as hotel accommodations, this is the point you will want to secure them.
12-14 Months Before the Event
Round Up the Speakers
About a year in advance, you will want to secure speakers for the event. Don't forget to line up a list of substitute speakers just in case something was to happen and one or more of the original speakers cannot make it to the conference. To entice speakers, you will want to assure them you will take care of their lodging and food expenses.
Identify and contact sponsors/partners
It's also at this time that you will need to start marketing the conference and its registration rates. All of this information should be clearly outlined on the event's website.
Nine to 10 Months Before the Event
Start Accepting Registrations
This is when you open registration to those you invited. You are likely not paying for attendees' hotels, but you should consider teaming up with certain local hotels and secure special rates for attendees to take advantage of. You will want to display these special rates on the event's website.
Four to Six Months Before the Event
Finalise the Agenda
You will use this period of time to finalise the event's speakers and agenda. Don't forget to update the event's website with speaker information. You'll also need to prepare for the event's audio and visual needs as well as properly plan for anyone who may attend in a wheelchair.
Three Months Before the Event
Choose a Caterer
It's now time to select caterers and choose menus for the event. You can also use this time to send reminders to speakers and finalise event details relating to any smaller items like linens, flowers, and decor.
See our conference menus for ideas:
Liaison with presenters/speakers
- Investigate need for any special permits, licenses, insurance, etc.
- Determine and arrange all details re menu, A/V equipment, registration set-up, parking, signage, etc.
- Review security needs
- Create draft event script
Ensure you have copies of phone numbers, seating arrangement and guest list
Check-in with all parties involved if everyone is on track
Provide final registration numbers to caterer
Three Weeks Before the Event
Confirm conference arrangements, such as those made with caterers and also assign session moderators.
If any printed material is going to be used during the event, such as seating designation signs and brochures, you will need to have them printed at this time.
One Week Before the Event
All materials need to be shipped to the conference venue and a walk-through needs to be performed.
Email reminders should, again, be sent to all attendees and speakers.
Oversee Equipment Setup
Audio and video equipment should be set up during this time too.
Day of the Event
Take it all in!
Relax and rest assured your extensive conference planning has paid off.
This checklist is a great starting point. If you need some help along the way, Laissez-faire Catering can cater to all your event needs. Call us today! Tell us about your event and we'll give you a quote and get started.