With office holiday parties to plan and end of year goals to reach, November and December are busy months both at work and at home. But if your association or company plans to host a conference or large-scale event in the spring, the time to act is now.
If you want your conference or event to run seamlessly, on budget and without embarrassing glitches, remember the following: Event planning is a time-sensitive process. It’s so important to make sure the foundation of your event is solid from the start rather than scrambling to make order out of chaos several months from now when the pressure is on and the stakes are high.
Of course, you don’t have to wrap up the entire planning process this month. But it is critical to get the ball rolling today in the following critical areas…
1. Event objectives. You need to determine why you’re having an event in the first place. If you take the time at the beginning of the process to determine why you’re investing in the event and what results you want to achieve, you’ll be better able to create a program that will attract participants and be successful. Make sure your that objectives are quantifiable so that you can measure your success and return on investment later on.
2. Program format. Once you have your objectives clear and in place, you should begin designing your event format. Will it be involve plenary sessions or concurrent sessions? Will you host off-site events or networking events? Answering these questions early on is critical because it will influence your selection of venue and several other vendors that you need to book early on. If you plan to have 5 concurrent workshops and one plenary, your venue has to accommodate well for that program structure.
3. Venue. If you haven’t yet finalized your destination, you will need to approach various cities and prospective venues to see who has the necessary space and availability to host your event. Depending on how popular your venue is or the size of your event, some venues may not be available if you leave things to the last minute. Remember, your event isn’t safe and secure until you’ve put down your deposit! Don’t make the mistake of pushing off venue selection. Struggling to find a workable space when your top choices have already been booked can be stressful and disappointing.
4. Content. It will take some time to develop your event content. Your content is the meat of your event and can be the determinant of people attend your event in years to come. Once you have established your event objectives, begin searching for keynote speakers and workshop facilitators that will engage your participants. Top talent books up quickly, so the more lead time your give yourself the better!
5. Promotion. If you want to get a solid turn out, you’ll want to give your attendees plenty of notice about the dates and locations and have content ready to entice them to attend. You’ll also want to put develop a social media marketing strategy and try to start conversations to piqué their interest in your upcoming event well before registration is opened. The more involved your potential participants are, the more likely they will attend and the more successful your event will be.
There are so many other things that need planning including staffing, registration software, mobile app development, signage, promotional material – the list really does go on and on – that the earlier you kick off the process, the better prepared you will be.
Contact SGP Conferences and Events today to begin planning your upcoming spring conference or event. With 20+ years of experience, Susan Phillips and her team will help you build a solid foundation for your event so that it runs glitch-free, stress-free and – importantly – on budget. Selecting a reputable and reliable event planner this month will give you peace of mind over the holiday season that your event or conference is already off to a great start.