Conference Planning 101: Key Considerations for Planning a Corporate Conference

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From name tags to food considerations, here are some things to prepare for when hosting a conference

 

Conferences serve as pivotal events where industry professionals, thought leaders and enthusiasts converge to share knowledge and network. WinSport is a perfect venue to host conferences of all kinds thanks to the many versatile spaces and expert events team, ready to help you plan the perfect professional conference.

Whether you're a seasoned event organizer or diving into conference planning for the first time, here are a few key considerations for anyone planning a conference or corporate event.

 

Think From A Delegates POV

When planning any type of event, it is important to consider the experience from beginning to end from the perspective of a delegate. Whether that means actually walking through the doors and pretending you are attending the conference, finding missing signage and identifying gaps in communication, or thinking through the schedule, this is a very helpful way to find anything you may have missed in your communication to delegates.

 

 

Thoughtfully Plan Signage And Wayfinding

Conferences often activate multiple spaces within a given venue that delegates need to navigate between. At WinSport, a conference could activate the large Legacy rooms for keynote presentations, the Peskapoo rooms for breakout sessions and Hockey House for networking. Thinking about signage to help delegates navigate between multiple locations and find where the washrooms, tradeshow and other spaces are is important to avoid people asking the event staff how to get around.

 

Have A Plan For Nametags

One thing that conference organizers often forget to plan until the last minute is name tags. Be prepared by keeping a detailed spreadsheet of everyone attending the conference and add to it as tickets are sold. Ensure you have the first name, last name and company name in separate columns for easy printing.

Find a printer who can combine a templated design tile to populate the names onto each name tag.

Pro Tip: make the name tags double sided if you are planning to attach them to lanyards, as they will flip around.

 

Curate Quality S.W.A.G. Bags

We all know what swag is, but did you know that SWAG is an acronym for ‘Stuff We All Get”? Conference swag can be hit or miss depending on how thoughtfully curated the items are. We recommend finding quality items that delegates will find useful, even after the conference is over. Having less, high quality items is much better for delegates than a bag filled with useless plastic. Make sure you request samples from your suppliers before placing any big orders so you can test the quality. If you can find something unique that ties into the theme of your conference, even better.

 

Lunch

When it comes to conferences, people have high expectations for the lunch they pay for. To make sure everyone is satisfied, make sure to take lunch orders ahead of time and communicate numbers with your venue in advance. Generally, having a variety of options with a first-come-first-serve method leaves people left with an option they aren’t happy with.

Another way to keep delegates happy is to provide plenty of food. Make sure to have muffins, juice, coffee and other pastries available in the morning and provide other snacks during breaks. Keep in mind that many snacks are high in sugar and may not work with everyone’s dietary restrictions. Providing a low-carb snack option is recommended.

Pro Tip: Make sure lunch and snack options can accommodate all common dietary restrictions including dairy free, gluten free and vegan.

 

Hotel Blocks

If many of your delegates are attending the conference from out of town, consider arranging some hotel blocks for your conference. Hotel blocks offer delegates a special rate and also hold a certain number of rooms to be booked for your conference. Having blocks at a few different hotels with different price points is also helpful to make sure that you can accommodate everyone’s budget.

Many hotels also offer value adds such as shuttles to and from the conference location. For example: WinSport has valued partnerships with both The Sandman Hotel and The Four Points by Sheraton who offer shuttles to and from the WinSport Event Centre for large events and conferences.

Pro Tip: Make sure you negotiate with hotels to include parking and communicate with delegates the final price for each hotel (including hidden fees) to avoid any surprises.

 

Include A Social Event

To make the conference more fun and interactive for delegates, make sure to plan a social event in the evening, ideally after the first day of the conference as an icebreaker. Many people see conferences as a networking opportunity and will appreciate being able to connect and socialize with other delegates.

Implementing some fun aspects to the social event includes door prizes, free food and drinks and various entertainment to keep people in high spirits and excited for the following days of the conference.

Make Use of Break Times

Making breaks useful is a great way to maximize the time in the conference. If your conference has a trade show in a separate room, consider serving all of the meals and snacks in that room to drive traffic to the booths. You can also consider having entertainment during the coffee/snack breaks or doing something more creative that ties into the theme of your conference.

Planning a conference is a multifaceted endeavor that requires careful consideration, strategic thinking and effective coordination. By following the key considerations outlined above and leveraging best practices in event management, you can create a memorable and impactful conference experience for your delegates. Remember to stay flexible, adapt to unforeseen challenges and celebrate the success of your hard work.

 

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