I give up. I’ve spent months looking for interesting articles on the conference industry but can’t really find one source that gives me a true and deep understanding of the good, bad and the ugly of conference planning and proper conference management and execution. So…I am going to start my own.
The reason for this blog is to give conference planners a means to air their frustrations on various topics that relate to their world. Perhaps through their stories they can meet others that are going through the same issues and then find common solutions.
I will offer 50 topics over 50 weeks but you may have many more to offer amongst yourselves (if anyone is reading this), so I’m open to change or adding more topics to the list.
I deal with conference planners every day so I know your time is short (so is mine). I’ll be brief and to the point.
Quickly, before we begin, I want to start off with a draw called ‘My Worst Conference Nightmare’. I want all conference planners who read this blog to send us your worst horror story. As a group we will review the story and rate it (we have a review and scoring system) and the person with the worst story of the year will get a free dinner for two any restaurant found in Open Table valued at up to $200.00. You deserve it! So please send us your story’s as I’m sure you will receive a lot of understanding, sympathy and advice from others who have been through your situation.
So let’s start: Below are well over 100 topics i.e. issues that Conference Planners may face that we are going to discuss over the course of the next year or two. Some Planners may face only 1 or 2 at an event and some may face many all at once (which of course entitles you to write an article and tell us about your ‘Conference Nightmare’). Please review the topics and send in your article. If it ""worthy"" we'll post it with a link back to your website so that readers or potential clients can meet you online. Yes...there is a marketing aspect to this as well!
Keep it clean and keep it simple
How do people find your conference? Building up your attendees
What is SEO and will it help
Securing your conference website from cyber attack
Managing changes to your conference website
Mobile Conference Website: Is it really necessary or just another fad
How to manage abstract submissions
How to keep your reviewers happy
Scoring & Rating Systems
How to manage Poster Presenters and keep them happy
Copyrights: Automate your system or fail
Disclosures: How to automate
PowerPoint’s: How to control your Oral Presenters PowerPoint’s
Don’t lose your attendee when they are ready to register online – Making Registration forms simple
Registration logjams- How to avoid them? A-F G-M N-Z Using Physical Barriers
Group Registration – Is it necessary?
QR codes- How do they help move registration lines
Handling last minute attendee switches
Member and non-member pricing
Dual Currency – How to best handle it (also see accounting)
Multi-event registration – Spousal trips, golf tournaments, early bird pricing
How to find sponsors for your conference
Association Special Registration needs
How to make a spousal trip memorable
Volunteers and Volunteer Training – Pitfalls to Avoid
Exhibitor/Trade Show Topics
Online Registration – When is it necessary?
Online Floor Plans – Is there an advantage in using them?
Lead Retrieval – What are the options?
Signage is Vital: So why is it always left to the last minute
Continuing Education Credit Topics
How to get the most out of your CE – CME system
Creating a Great Program – Making it simple for attendees to use and read
Using Technology to Create your Program
What is a Program App and is it Necessary for my Conference?
Who is going to layout my Program for the Printer
Where do I find Program Printers?
How to get people from the airport to the hotel
Overflow hotels – How to avoid confusion
When your conference center is not near the hotel
QR Codes: What are they and 10 ways they can help your conference?
What is a web app vs a native app?
Hotel Management Topics
Managing Room Blocks
Booking multiple venues: The risks and how to avoid them
Communicating with Speakers, Attendees and VIP’s
When the storm hits – How to deal with 1,000 stranded attendees
Speaker Presenter Topics
Managing Speaker Expectations
Finding and Retaining Great Speakers
Proper Management of the Speaker Ready Room
Getting PowerPoint’s to the right Rooms
How to create a great PowerPoint Presentation
Food & Beverage Topics
Special Diets (see below)
Seating and Ticketing for Meals
Breaks and Snacks: Are they necessary
Managing the Gala and other Major Events
Decorating the Exhibit Hall
Managing Exhibitor Expectations
Decorating doesn’t end with the Exhibit Hall: Decorating the full conference venue
Lead Retrieval Solutions(see other areas)
Special Needs Topics
Dealing with Disabilities
Session and Conference Evaluations
Getting feedback on the conference
Session Feedback: Is it necessary
Speaker Evaluations: Do I really want to know the truth?
Speaker Feedback: How to improve the Speaker Experience
Exhibitor Feedback: How to improve the Exhibitor Experience
Keeping track of cash at the event
Dealing with credit card changes
Auditing the Conference: A Software Solution
Payment Processors: Who to Avoid and who to Use
Managing AV Requirements
The session has started but there is no overhead projector
Audio: Often overlooked but extremely important
Onsite Interviews and Photography – Lessons learned from the Experts
Managing Room Allocations
A room for 500 with 5 attendees and a speaker
A room set for 50 filled to capacity with 100 people sitting on the floor
Social Media Topics
How to take advantage of You Tube or Vimeo
Is Twitter Necessary for a conference?
Grow your Social Network: Promote your conference using Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google + more
Social Media Tools for Your Conference (non promotional)
Attendee to Attendee, Attendee to Exhibitors, Attendee to Presenters
Connecting attendees to one another: http://www.bizzabo.com/
Recording your conference Sessions – Why bother?
What is Scorm&LMS
Conference Board Topics
Assigning Roles to Board Members
Your Conference Board Meetings – How Technology can Assist
Contracts & RFP’s:
Responding to RFP’s and negotiating conference management agreements
Negotiating Vendor Contracts
When is it time to Quit being a Conference Planner?
Cronyism: Conference Planning and Politics within the organization
Finding the right suppliers and getting rid of the old ones
Conference Planning Influencers – Who are they and how can you find them?
Getting the budget you need to get the job done
Board Member Infighting – Is it making your job impossible?
Conference Emergency! – Expect the unexpected (drunk attendees, fainting speakers)