Pre-conference planning: key considerations
Once you find the perfect location to hold your event, you might think the biggest challenge is over. However, there are vital planning steps needed between contract signature and the event date. Here are the main components you’ll want to hash out.
Connect back to your event goals and vision
At this point in the process, you should have defined your meeting’s “why.” The meeting’s main goal/vision should guide all the decisions you have to make throughout the planning process. Now is the time to make sure that everything you do during pre-conference planning ties back to your original goal and your “why” for holding the event.
Plan for attendee safety and comfort
Planners need to ask themselves important questions to conduct a safe in-person meeting post-COVID-19. These questions include:
- Have I updated my on-site risk mitigation plan, meetings and events policy and travel policy to reflect new requirements?
- Have I communicated policy changes and expectations effectively to on-site staff and/or attendees?
- Do I have the budget to satisfy protocols for attendee safety and security?
- Will I have the same number of attendees as before, or will I make changes to my invitee list?
- Have I considered shifting my event(s) to a virtual or hybrid setting?
Be creative (and safe) with catering
Catering can be a make-it-or-break-it choice for attendees’ happiness. Be sure to make thoughtful and intentional choices when it comes to your food and beverage selections. Keep track of current food and beverage trends and rely on your attendees’ preferences and eating habits from previous events. Working on a budget? Collaborate with the chef and share your vision.
In addition, today’s attendees might be looking for individually packaged food items and avoiding buffets for an increased sense of hygiene and safety. Be aware of your attendees’ potential concerns around food safety and plan accordingly.
Consider the impact of your AV design
Audio Visual (AV) can wow your attendees and upturn your budget. When planning for AV, consider its impact on attendees and speakers. Be sure to match the AV to the speaker—if they are more comfortable standing still, a podium mic will be sufficient and easier on your budget. Is your speaker’s presentation dependent upon moving around and interacting with the audience? Then a wireless mic is a must. Remember to keep the overall event concept and the details for each session in mind.
In a post-COVID world, the overall meeting flow and set-up of the room are also important. Most meetings need more space than they would have previously, which impacts sound and sightline considerations. Set-ups may also need to include additional signage, floor markings, and plexiglass partitions to keep attendees safe.
Get the right specifics for registration and attendee information
Managing attendees is an essential aspect of a meeting. During the pre-planning stage, secure the registration process that you will need to successfully run all sessions, meals, events, etc., that make up your schedule. Remember to obtain attendees’ on-site contact information, such as their mobile phone number. This is a critical piece of crisis management should something occur on-site. Registration is also an attendees’ first glimpse into the event, so it is your first chance to generate some buzz and excitement.
Details. Details. Details.
Details are what make a stellar meeting or event. To help you think of all those small but mighty features, create a plan that walks through the entire event from start to finish. Consider all the elements of the program and any ROI-impacting moments you have planned.
To help you ensure every detail is correct, you may want to consider hiring an event management company to help ensure your planning goes smoothly every step of the way – and you end up with the exact event you envision during your pre-planning.
Event management providers can provide:
- Hotel/venue sourcing & contracting
- Online registration development and attendee management
- Group air
- Full-service management
- Virtual and hybrid events
- Strategic meetings management
- Incentive events and more!