Business conferences and exhibitions are a great way to bring together some of the brightest talent in your niche – but running one can be a little more challenging than turning up on the day to mingle with other delegates. If you want to make sure your conference goes off with a bang, then follow these five simple steps.
Invite guests early
Whether you’re holding an internal conference for your staff or you’re planning a nationwide networking day for your contacts, it’s important that you invite guests as early as possible. In fact, some of the world’s biggest exhibitions advertise their dates more than a year in advance to give delegates a chance to prepare and make space in their busy schedules. Send out invites and follow them up with reminder emails a couple of months later, and remember to keep a clear log of who you think will be attending on the day. That way, you’ll know how many chairs, how much food and how many members of staff you’ll need to ensure the day runs smoothly.
Clearly label stands
If your conference or exhibition is selling stands, where businesses can sell their products and services, you should clearly label them ahead of the day, and allow parties to arrive early to set up. The best method is to label stands with numbers and letters, and assign a letter to each of the exhibitors. That way, they’ll know where to go and they can advertise their presence online.
Make sure that you welcome guests warmly. One method would be to purchase hospitality confectionery from a company like Confectionaire, giving each of your delegates chocolate and sweets to take home with them as a momento. You could also serve champagne, cups of tea and coffee, or bottles of water depending on the nature of your conference. And remember to come overstocked, just in case more guests turn up than you were initially planning for.
Have a clear plan of action
Nobody likes to sit around waiting for a speech or a workshop, so you should have a clear plan of action on the day to keep everyone moving and in the right places. Consider creating maps to show your guests where they need to be, as well as a clear itinerary that you should follow to the letter. Oh, and don’t be afraid of installing a speaker system to make announcements.
Follow up with new contacts
Once the conference or exhibition comes to a close, make sure that you follow up with your new friends and contacts. Networking is pointless if you don’t maintain and build upon your new relationships, so send out an email letting people know how much you enjoyed meeting them, and set up plans for one-on-one meetings and catch-ups to take relationships to the next level.
The tips we’ve offered in today’s article won’t make you a conference whizz kid overnight, but they’ll help you to plan an event that works for everyone. Good luck – we know you can do it!