Whether you’re organising a one-hour promotional event or a five-day conference, functionbook™ has all the things you’ll need to cover to deliver the ultimate conference.
First impressions count. The venue sets the mood and tone as soon as your audience arrives onsite, so choosing the right conference venue for your event is critical.
For conferences with a focus on promotion, networking or training a more traditional, metropolitan function venue is preferred. But if you are looking to get a small group of executives together for a retreat, an event venue in a tranquil environment away from the hustle and bustle of the city is likely to be a better choice.
When reviewing conference venue options, consider whether the function venue fits your corporate image. Don’t choose the newest edgy hotel if your brand is conservatively steeped in heritage and tradition when a more established conference venue might meet the expectations of your audience more appropriately.
Besides the function venue, consider the guest experience upon arrival, how they will use the break-out spaces, the friendliness of staff and the overall quality of amenities – these all contribute to the atmosphere and overall success of your conference.
Silence is golden. Check how quiet the function venue is and ensure you’re not going to be interrupted by untimely neighbouring construction during your event. Acoustics are equally as important, as well as ensuring the room has adequate temperature controls and lighting to ensure your delegates are comfortable and focused.
Try to book your function venue at least six months in advance to allow sufficient time to plan all the details of your conference. Informing the venue of your budget right from the get-go encourages transparency around costs and also helps keep event expenses in check.
It can be difficult to know exactly what to look for in a function venue however using a venue finder like functionbook™ will help you narrow down conference and function venues available in Brisbane, Gold Coast or the Sunshine Coast.
Logistics. Check out the ease of access to the function venue for out of town guests. What transport options should they consider to get there? What’s the travel time from the airport? Where should they park and how much does it cost? What’s are the best options for public transport?
If the majority of your delegates are from out of town and you are having a multi-day conference, consider booking a hotel with onsite conference facilities.
Room Capacity & Seating Plan. When you’re looking at capacity, you’ll need to strike a happy balance between making sure that the room is not too cramped and ensuring there’s not too much empty space. Many conference venues will have function spaces that can be adapted to the space required with the removal or addition of petition-walls.
The right seating plan will depend on your type of event. All seating plans should offer unobstructed views of both the speaker and any supporting presentation screens.
If your conference features keynote speakers all presenting from the front of the room, a theatre or class-room style layout is best however if delegates are networking or interacting during the conference, a banquet style where guests are seated at round tables is a better choice.
For multi-day conferences, it is not unreasonable to ask the venue to change the set-up of the function room each day, but expect to be charged an extra labour fee.
Technology. In the world of the professional conference organizer, there’s nothing more cringe-worthy than technical glitches.
Conference technology requirements can vary from a simple projector and screen to an audio visual spectacular with rigging, lighting, audio and onsite event production and technical management.
Regardless of the scope of your conference, always test microphones, projectors and videos prior to the event and have a back-up copy of the presentations and/or speech notes.
Some conference venues will have their own audio visual equipment while other venues might require you to hire externally from an AV specialist. If you’re using the conference venue’s equipment, make sure this is covered in the event quote so you don’t get a surprise bill after your event that you haven’t budgeted for.
Check WiFi accessibility and the availability of mobile charging stations and remember to communicate WiFi passwords and the location of charging stations to delegates during the actual event.
Services & Amenities. Most venues offer onsite catering food and beverages from pre-event cocktail parties to working lunches and gala dinners. In the weeks leading up to your conference, organise a time to sample your chosen menus and wines and check what alternatives are available for delegates with special dietary requests.
If you’re planning on bringing in any extra equipment, goods or services for your conference, check with the venue that you’re permitted to use external vendors first. Some of the bigger venues have commercial agreements in place, especially in regard to catering, staging and audio-visual.
Mobile event apps are a great way of providing all relevant information to your conference delegates. Provide a list of conference activities, communicate WiFi details, answer FAQs, give directions to the conference venue and carpark access. You can even upload an indoor map to your exact conference venue which is always handy especially if your event is being held in a large conference venue with dozens of different function rooms.
During the conference, communicate with your delegates daily via email. Summarize the day’s activities. Excite them about what’s coming up in terms of special keynote speakers, workshops, social events, weather reports and any other event housekeeping. Keep your emails short and sweet. Consider using a program such as MailChimp where you can store the email addresses and just drop information into a template you pre-formatted in the lead up of the event – a couple of clicks and everyone is up to date.
Want to ensure your event is promoted in the right light? Consider using a media wall that promotes your business or sponsors and hiring a professional photographer. It’s inevitable that delegates will take photos to commemorate the occasion so providing a location, worthy of red carpet ovation, with special lighting and a professional photographer not only adds some pizazz, but also ensures you have quality images on hand for delegate follow-up, media relations or to promote next year’s event.
Booking the right keynote speaker can have delegates literally jumping out of their seats for a standing ovation. Unfortunately finding the right keynote speaker isn’t as easy as booking someone with a recognizable name. Consider the relevance of the speaker’s life, career and content to your particular audience. Read reviews and ask the speaker how they plan on interacting with your audience other than simply asking for questions at the end of their speech to maximize audience participation and key-message retention.
Get delegates excited in the lead up to your event. Set up a LinkedIn or Facebook group, send eDMs and teasers of the good content they have to look forward to. After the event, reach out to reconnect with delegates; send them copies of presentations, photo galleries of the event or a wrap-up of take-away key messages.
It goes without saying that conference organisers go out of their way to look after their sponsors with adequate signage, acknowledgement and sponsor benefits. But if you are staging your conference in a large convention centre that caters to a number of different events each day, you may want to check what other events are booked on the same day as your event and if there are any major conflicts likely to affect your sponsors. It would certainly rain on IBM’s parade if conference delegates were met with Apple signage and displays in the public areas of the conference centre due to another event. Transparent communication with venue management on sponsor sensitivities should ensure a win:win for all parties.
Inviting delegates to complete a survey during or after your event, provides important feedback and is a great way of finding out if you’re in touch with your audience and are delivering relevant content while gathering critical intel on how you can improve your next conference.