Whether you are new to conference management or just starting out, as you prepare for your next conference it's always a good idea to step outside your box and explore what's changed. As with any industry or segment, technology is constantly evolving and it’s important to understand what's changing and how it can impact your events success or failure. To help prepare for your next conference we thought the time was right to take a step back and look at how we manage logistics at our next conference and ask ourselves is there a better way?
Been there Done that!
Over the last 23 years, I have built my marketing career around the enterprise technology space working for companies like IBM and Mitel. Not surprisingly conferences have played a big part in my responsibilities over the years. I would estimate that I has been an attendee, exhibitor, speaker, organizer or content strategies at over 50 conferences over the course of my career, which gives me a relatively unique perspective. I have had the opportunity to work with conferences of all sizes from intimate roadshows to large multi-day events with thousands of attendees and exhibitors.
Over the years I have learnt what it takes to pull together an event that delivers upon the fundamental business objective of generating revenue through product sales, or offloading costs through sponsorship. As an attendee and exhibitor, I know the difference between a well-run conference and a bad one.
Logistics - They can Make or Break You!
The logistics associated with a well run conference is complex, to achieve the required economies of scale and be successful not only must a conference support the needs of multiple types of attendees, such as buyers, vendors, and employees. But that same event must also build and deliver an agenda that fulfils the objectives of each audience type and with the required thought leadership, sales or educational content. With so many moving parts, people and programs, the chance of logistical issues is big and a detailed plan is paramount to success.
When I reflect back on my experience as both an attendee and as a manager of staff who relied on conferences as part of their development, my expectations were very clear. When you consider the opportunity cost of missed work and the travel and living costs, this was not a cheap endeavor, and the value it delivered was carefully monitored. For me, I would consider the investment well spent if I came back from the conference more informed or knowledgeable on the my desired topic, and ready to action that information in a meaningful way. If so, budgeting for next year was simple, conference organizers could count on me and my team coming back year over year.
If however the experience was disorganized, and as a result I fell short on achieving my objectives, the decision was made. I would not give it a second thought, I would not be investing again next year, making it that much more difficult for event organizers to achieve their objectives year over year. For me as an attendee I don’t want to be concerned with logistics, I wanted to focus on the content and my objectives. If it was hard to get around, or sequencing was off or no one was available to help me and my time was wasted the value was lost and the or return on investment missed.
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The Event Organizer, It's No Easy Task
An event organizer knows, that logistics and smooth execution is all about the people. That not only must we deliver great content but we must also ensure that the right person with the right skills are in the right location at the right time to ensure a superior attendee experience and ultimately achieve event objectives.
- Registration staff need to be available to meet the rush as attendees arrive.
- Staff needs to be on the show floor during show hours to answer questions and deliver demos.
- Speakers need to be in the right room at the right time to prepare for and deliver a quality session.
- Information workers need to be available and prepared to answer any random question an attendee throws at them.
- Rooms need to be cleaned, refreshed and prepared as the schedule demands.
- Meals and snacks need to be well orchestrated to efficiently move attendees through mealtime and stay on schedule.
Looking to staff your conference right? Then make sure to read- 10 Must-Have Volunteer Roles For Your Next Conference
Successfully pulling this off requires a detailed strategy and fast response time when things go sideways.
What Choice Do I Have!
I know what it's like to personally manage the scheduling for all these people, jobs and requirements with multiple spreadsheets and I can promise you one thing, there is a better way. When we rely on disparate tools and spreadsheets to build and manage a schedule of this complexity it opens the doors to errors, confusion, no shows and the like, which all translates into a sub par attendee experience. The good news is, now you can cost-effectively implement a better plan with less resources and in less time. With the right technology, conference teams can be confident on event day that they have the right person is in the right place at the right time, to ensure a well-run event that attendees want to keep coming back to.
Whether your event staff are paid or volunteers, building the plan, scheduling the team and pulling off a smooth event does not need to be so complex. Leveraging the latest in technology, now you can simplify and reduce the friction associated with:
- Building the event schedule and defining the requirements within each role to ensure the smooth sequence of events on the event day.
- The recruitment, registration and scheduling process for ensuring the right people, with the right skills are in the right role to meet demand.
- Event day management and eliminate the black hole with real-time visibility of staffing across the event to improve response time.
- Access to the information necessary to ensure that staff can easily find the answers to attendee and exhibitor questions.
- Tracking staff performance to highlight star performers and keep the best coming back to further optimize operations.
Today's technology is cost-effective and easy to implement. As Jaci Feinstein, the Event Manager at Social Media Examiner once said, "It's worth the investment in your volunteers. InitLive is worth every dollar to be able to streamline and better manage, communicate, organize your volunteers. It allows you and your volunteers to focus on what is really important."
To learn more about InitLive and how we have helped customers like the Social Media Examiner and other conferences just like them successfully grow and scale their conference, please visit: www.initlive.com or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Ultimate Conference Planning Checklist