So you’re in charge of planning a conference? It’s not a task for the faint of heart – and there’s far more to it than picking the perfect venue (though at Champagne Sports Resort our Drakensberg conference facilities really are just about perfect).
Even if you have a venue, where do you even begin with all the other stuff that goes into planning a conference? What’s the budget, do you need speakers, how are you going to promote your conference? There are a thousand and one questions, but with great organisation and careful project management, you can ensure that your conference goes off without a hitch!
A simple guide to planning a conference (h2)
Not all conferences are created equal. There are variables such as goals, number of attendees and budget to consider. However, these conference planning tips should help you work out the basics; a starting point that you can then flesh out with details specific to your conference.
- A team
First things first – put together a conference team and delegate difference tasks to different members. If everyone knows exactly what they are responsible for and how they need to work together, it will help enormously with flawless planning and project management.
- Budget and numbers
Before you get going with the fun and creative side of conference planning it’s important that you determine your budget. After all, you don’t want to plan a magnificent conference in the Central Berg and then only discover later that it’s out of your price range! Part of determining a budget is deciding on the total number of delegates. Locking down a budget early on with help you to keep on track and avoid disappointment and stress later on.
- A date
Set a conference date as soon as possible, so that you can book your conference venue in advance. Remember to give yourself enough time to plan (perhaps even give yourself too much time – better safe than sorry). A small conference might take 3 months to plan, whereas a large event could need up to a year.
- Goals and theme
What is the purpose of your conference? What do you want attendees to experience or learn? Deciding on your goals and a theme for your conference can have an effect on your choice of venue as well as other aspects such as marketing and promotion.
- A venue
Choosing a venue may not be the most important part of conference planning, but it could be the most important part of the conference itself. A great venue will ensure that everything runs smoothly, and it’s the thing that is likely to make the most impact on your attendees. Your venue should be within your budget, be easily accessible and have all the necessary conference amenities. Ask about things like IT facilities (such as screens and projectors), auditoriums, wifi, catering and accommodation.
Champagne Sports Resort allows you to host a truly unforgettable conference in the Drakensberg. Not only is our venue surrounded by some of the most spectacular mountain scenery that South Africa has to offer, we also offer full conference and event facilities, including on-site accommodation and catering. We have 16 event venues, ranging from the state of the art 1200m² 1400 seater Buttress Centre, to the small and intimate Sterkhorn Room that allows for a maximum of 18 guests. In addition, we have 4 professional boardrooms equipped with 50-inch LCD wall mounted screens and flip charts.
- Activities, speakers and entertainment
What activities will you be providing delegates, in line with your conference goals and theme? A workshop? Presentations by relevant speakers? Will you be providing entertainment in the form of a ball or party? These are all things that you need to think about, plan for and make the appropriate bookings.
- A schedule
Once you’ve decided on date, venue, activities etc, it’s time to draw up a schedule. Determine a timeline for your conference, ensuring that you give adequate time for meals and relaxation – especially if your conference takes place over a weekend.
- Promotion and advertising
How are you going to get people to come to your conference? Is it a work thing, where everyone in a large corporate company will attend… or are you targeting private individuals in a specific industry? If you are going to be advertising to sell tickets, you’ll need to come up with a marketing plan as soon as possible, and give yourself a good few months to advertise before the date of the conference arrives.
- Expect the unexpected
As with any large event, you can expect a few glitches along the way. However, with a strong team, and a solid plan, you will be able to take any challenges in your stride and provide your delegates with a memorable and rewarding conference experience