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How To Organise a Conference: Advice for Event Planners

Published November 2018

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Most medium to large companies will host some sort of annual conference or event., whether it’s to celebrate the end of the financial year or simply to get staff from different offices together.  As with most big events there is often a lot of organising and stress involved and unless you are lucky enough to have a dedicated events team, then there is a good chance your senior management will delegate responsibility to someone. 

So what do you do when it’s your year?

 Well its easy to get overwhelmed by the scale of the task… firstly you’ve got to find a venue that has the right facilities, in the right area, that can accommodate everyone whilst ensuring its not too expensive! Added to that, when you call the venue you get a barrage of questions and choices and before you know it you’re confused by a range of delegate rates, room layouts and food options.

By this point your almost ready to give up… but don’t worry help is at hand. Below is a simple guide to setting up a brilliant conference that you’re company will love:

Step 1 – Gather information and determine your requirements. Before you get started its good to know rough numbers, dates, budget and your ideal search area for the venue. It might seem obvious but without these key bits of information you’ll have a hard time planning anything. Ask the boss how they would like the day to go: big meeting in the morning, or group sessions before lunch, more of the same in the afternoon or something fun to end on? Once you understand what you’re looking for, you can begin your search.

Step 2 – Time to find a venue. If you’re looking for somewhere local you may already be familiar with nearby hotels and conference facilities. If not, a discussion with colleagues could throw up some good options. However, if you want to make it easy for yourself or are looking further afield, why not check out our venues page. We’ve compiled a list of our favourite places organised by region, just click through and browse our recommended event locations or give us a call to get our advice.

Step 3 – Check prices and availability. Once you’ve narrowed your search to venues that meet your requirements, call the hotel and ask to speak to someone in the sales office. Try to avoid getting prices from the receptionist as they rarely have the authority to make deals or negotiate on price. If you’re looking for a typical event (9am-5pm) you should ask for their day delegate rate. This typically includes pastries/snacks on arrival, refreshments served twice during your stay (morning and afternoon), a 2 course buffet lunch, and your room hire with conferencing facilities. This will provide you with pretty much all you need. 

Step 4 – Book your activities. Another potential minefield is selecting suitable activities that are fun and don’t cost the earth. The challenge here is that most team building companies you’ll find on Google are just glorified middlemen. They’ll arrange for an activity provider to bring some games for your event but they’ll charge 50-100% commission on top of the activity price for the privilege.

 Before contacting an events company, think about the aim of the event. Does the management team want this to tie in with the rest of the day or just for you all to have some fun? Are your team adventurous or competitive, or would they prefer some relaxed indoor fun? Not sure where to begin… don’t worry there’s a very easy way to get this sorted. Contact Aim for the Sky and we’ll put together a range of options for you that will be perfect for your event and in budget. We design, build and run all our own team building activities so you won’t be paying a third party’s commission.

Step 5 – Present the best options to management. Collect all the information on your top 2-3 venues. Try to include any the data that sets them apart from one another i.e. this hotel has Spa access included with the overnight stay, the grounds can be used for team building activities at no extra charge, highest score on trip advisor, lowest rates etc.

Presenting this to your boss will certainly impress, as it takes all the hard work out of them making a decision. If the venues are closely matched it’s often worth making a visit to see them for yourself and view the spaces you’ll be using. Little tip – if you’re preferred venue is a bit more expensive than one of their local rivals, it doesn’t hurt to mention it when negotiating. They will often price match in these circumstances to secure your business.

So you now can add ‘Event Planner’ to your list of job titles.

 Still think it sounds like too much effort? Then contact one of our team, we can help organise your day and suggest a range of activities and entertainment that will thrill everyone at work …..so why not skip all the hard work and just sit back and leave it all to us? 

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