Tips For Organising a Conference Overseas
Conferences often play a large role in helping to continue professional development in various fields, by encouraging continuing education and providing the stage for delegates to meet with like-minded peers. Those who attend conferences have the opportunity to share their ideas, learn from others and make valuable connections with other committed people. These benefits make it worthwhile to organise conferences, but the task can often be a stressful challenge – even for people with event management training – especially if the purpose is to bring together people from all over the world. The following are a few tips for organising a conference overseas.
The preplanning stage of the conference should take place at least 6 months before the conference. This will give organisers the opportunity to come up with the vision for the conference, establish the organising committee and make the final decision to proceed. It is important to set up the framework of what is to be achieved during the conference, and be honest about the feasibility of that framework. The members of the organising committee should be carefully selected individuals who are committed to the task and who have different skills to bring to the table such as knowledge of speakers, relationships with potential sponsors and previous experience organising similar events.
No later than 6 months before the conference, the organisers should be agreeing to a specific date and location of the conference as well as a rudimentary list of desired speakers. This list should consist of the desired speakers, reserve speakers and any costs associated with getting them to come. The chosen date should be one that gives the highest potential for delegate attendance, and that doesn’t clash with any other conferences, public holidays or special events. When choosing the venue for the event, committee members should consider how many delegates are coming, where they are coming from and whether the facility needs information technology support, whether the venue is wheel-chair accessible (if applicable), in-house catering and parking. Also consider where the delegates will stay, as many hotels offer both luxury accommodation and conference space.
Marketing and Finance
Approximately 3 months before the conference, organising members should be in the process of setting up a bank account, finalising the list of speakers, contacting potential sponsors and agreeing on a marketing strategy. A bank account specifically for the conference is necessary for receiving money from attending delegates and sponsors, and for consolidating money for expenses such as the venue, catering, delegate packages, gifts for speakers and marketing. The initial marketing should be to attract delegates, so organisers need to have a coherent registration process for those who are interested in attending.
The month before the conference should be dedicated to confirming sponsorship arrangements, finalising delegate packs, arranging the printing of certificates for delegates and speakers, and confirming catering arrangements. Basically the final month should be devoted to ensuring that the needs of speakers and delegates are met. This is the stage where details should be finalised and loose ends tied up.
After the conference is over, the organising committee needs to formally thank all the speakers, sponsors, delegates, staff and volunteers for their part in the conference. Organisers will also have to settle outstanding expenses, decide on charitable donations and analyse feedback.
If you follow these important tips and steps your conference should be a big success!