10 Top Tips for Conference Planning

10 Top Tips for Conference Planning Images

  • Tables Set for Tradeshow in Hotel Lobby
Thursday, October 16, 2014

Planning your first conference can be a daunting task but doesn’t need to be! Here are a few tips for beginner event planners or just a refresher on how to plan a conference for our seasoned friends:

  1. Plan early: The earlier the better to lock in not only the date you desire but also a venue that comfortably meets your needs. We recommend having about three potential dates for your conference when looking at venues. Having flexibility allows you to compare the costs of different dates that are suitable to your budget.
  2. Create a mock agenda: You may not have your speakers confirmed or know every topic or breakout session but you’ll want to know how many rooms you’ll need, seating arrangements, audiovisual needs for each room, and breaks between sessions. The clearer picture you have of your event, the better cost estimates you’ll receive. You should also look at packages that group together the essentials for a corporate event.
  3. Submit the Request for Proposal (RFP): Once you have a clear image of your event, submit the RFP to the venue. Most RFPs require a contact person, dates, what kind of event it is, and any specific needs you may have. The venue will then return a proposal outlining how they best meet your requirements for your event and what other services they offer that you may not have requested.
  4. Coordinate speakers: You’ll also want to plan early to reach out to your first choice speakers about presenting at your conference. This gives them plenty of time to schedule the conference in, prepare, and give your event some publicity.
  5. Plan for recreation or reception time: We love our Los Angeles location because it allows conference attendees the chance to get outside for some fresh air anytime during the year. This is especially nice during the breaks between sessions and workshops. Attendees can grab a cup of coffee and then head outside to relax or check in at the office. Be sure to schedule in adequate breaks and time between sessions so attendees can use the restroom, get a beverage, and reset for the next class.
  6. Block out rooms at a group rate: If your conference requires guests to stay overnight, make their lives easier by coordinating guest rooms with nearby hotels. We made it very easy for our conference planners by having our overnight accommodations on-site! Your mock agenda should help you estimate how many attendees will require lodging and double check with the hotel on how long they will hold that special rate.
  7. Finalize conference schedule and speakers: You have a good idea of how you want your conference to run but now it’s time to make the schedule official. Confirm your speakers and their topics and map out the agenda for the event. Map out each room hour-by-hour so you don’t miss a small detail, such as a podium for one class but then a projector for the one following it. 
  8. Give notice: Send out your invites, update your website, and start spreading the word! Be sure to include the date, venue, key agenda items, lodging, and transportation information on the invite.   
  9. Double check your checklist: Review the Event Orders from the venue against your requirements to make sure you’ll have all the tools and equipment for you conference. For classes running simultaneously, ensure there’s audiovisual equipment included for all sessions. You’ll also want to have a pre-conference meeting to meet with key staff members and know who is responsible for what. This will generally happen the day before the event to take care of any last minute changes.
  10. Relax! We know it’s easier said than done, but try to relax and enjoy your conference as much as your attendees!

If you’re thinking of planning an event in the Los Angeles area, we’re confident our facilities and staff will help you execute an event your attendees will recount for years.

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