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October 16, 2019 / By admin
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What Are the Ingredients for a Successful Business Conference?

Whether you’re a professional event producer or this is your first foray into hosting a business conference, your number one priority should always be exceeding your attendees expectations – not just meeting them. If your attendees actually engage with you and the activities you have planned, you can easily steer your conference into a glowing success that will be talked about for years to come.

With that in mind, here are some tips and tricks that you can use to ensure your next conference is a success.

Give your attendees knowledge they can benefit from

The way you structure your event content can be the key to whether the attendees benefit from it or doze off in their seats. To ensure your attendees enjoy the content, you need to recognize their needs and make sure that your sessions, as well as the core theme of your conference, is suitable and useful to them. Try to offer knowledge and innovative ideas that your attendees can take back and apply in their professional lives or organizations. When you design your agenda while keeping your attendees unique needs in mind, they will feel like the “star” of the event and you will have a successful conference on your hand.

Get a mobile app

The knowledge doesn’t end when the conference does. Does it? This is precisely why your handouts, recorded sessions and conference proceedings need to be made available in a mobile app. If your attendees can access conference materials from anywhere, at any time, they are more likely to have a fulfilling experience. What’s more, you can also use your conference app to send push notifications and alert your attendees on important updates before and during the event itself so they don’t miss out on anything that might be of value to them.

Secure the right speaker to deliver the keynote speech

A keynote speech sets the tone for your event, so it’s important to choose the right speaker to kick it off. A good, well known keynote speaker would act as sales tool as their name alone can sell your event. Make sure you secure a speaker your audience would be interested to see and lend an ear to – someone who can inform, inspire, educate and entertain your attendees.

Another word on speakers: “A tight five is always better than a sloppy fifteen.” No matter how polished, most speakers cannot hold the attention of an audience for more than 60 minutes. Be sure to never have your speakers go too long without a break.

Use visuals to enhance the presentation

In order to make the most of your keynote, outfit each speaker with a killer presentation that will wow your attendees. Whether it’s typical slides created in Keynote or PowerPoint, interactive charts or a cool opening video, supporting visuals can be much more effective than words. Your audience may be able to understand the ideas or points your speaker is trying to get across a little more easily when they are presented with visuals that relate to it.

Caffeinate your conference

Serving coffee at a conference is always a good idea. By setting up breaks and making sure that everyone has a cup of coffee when they need or want one, you can keep your attendees intact and entertained during the long conference. Serving coffee at your event will surely be appreciated by your attendees and also makes for a wonderful opportunity for networking. And speaking of networking…

Make time for networking

Once the basic needs are provided for, it’s important to think about your attendees social needs. One of the primary reasons attendees will attend your conference is to network with other industry experts, so make sure you have made arrangements for plenty of networking time. Your attendees would also love to meet your vendors that can help them in their everyday business. Make sure your conference has opportunities like a tradeshow or sponsored mixer for two-way conversations between the vendors and attendees.

Your conference shouldn’t be all work and no fun

Keep your attendees motivation and morale up by making sure there’s some “fun” on the menu. You can have live music played throughout your conference: during breakfast, main stage arrivals, lunch and breaks, photo booths filled with themed props, experiential learning sessions and more. Organizing a swanky opening night cocktail reception at one of the trendiest restaurants in town is another way you can make your conference more exciting and have all of your attendees singing your praises. Whether you’re promoting a new product, building brand awareness or securing new clients, kicking up the level of fun can make your convention “The event of the year!”

The last word

A big part of building a successful conference is to understand what your guests expect to get out of the event. You might have to scramble to implement a new feature, but if it fills a need, then it’s sure to pay off in the long run. That being said, if you’re new to organizing corporate events and need a helping hand, TOAST is here to help. We can make sure everything is set up and in gear to ensure that your business conference comes off without a hitch – and your attendees leave the venue feeling that it was time and money well spent.

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With decades of combined experience conceptualizing, designing and supervising every key aspect of an event, whether the occasion is a business meeting, red-carpet premiere, or a trade show exhibit, we know that the single greatest error or omission made by event planners is their disregard to intensive planning and anticipation.

Whether you are organizing an intimate product launch or a large corporate gala, having a meaningful, thought out budget early on is critical as it is all too easy for your expenses to spiral out of control. So, how do I budget my event? We have come up with an easy-to-understand and easy-to-follow event budgeting guide that will help you create an accurate working budget for your next event.

The early bird catches the worm

It does not make any sense of setting up your event budget when you have already overspent on key items. So, you should consider starting early with a top-down approach. With an early start, you can put good spending practices in the place for the remainder of your event planning process. But how do you establish a baseline? Well, if you have managed a similar event(s) in the past, borrowing templates and figures from those is a great solution. The basic framework for your budget does not need to be generous on details either; you only need to keep it as architecturally intact as possible and include ample room for all probable scenarios.

Budget for the basics

Most planners tend to be oblivious to little details that can present themselves as major challenges on the day of the event. If you want to avoid getting to grips with anything you did not plan for on the day of your event, you must figure out each aspect/item of your event that could possibly incur a considerable cost. What are the bare-bones basics to begin with? We like to put buckets of money aside in each department. I know I am gonna need a venue, f&b, staff, valet parking, etc. Next, we add in the extras. The florals, the furniture rentals, the custom fabricated set pieces, etc. By doing so, you will be able to put together a more realistic budget. This is an early course of action that you can continue to fine-tune along the way.

Here are some big-ticket items that could end up devouring your budget if you do not account for them on the front end:

AV: One of the surprises for many event planners is the sometimes outrageous charges for the hotel provided audio-visual (AV) needs. We have seen surprised planners think they were so clever negotiating that they got a free microphone for their event, only to discover that the free inclusion was only for the microphone, and did not include hooking it up to the venue’s system or the inescapable labour charges. Not so clever after all. So instead of relying only on your negotiation skills, you should map out all your audio-visual costs ahead of time, and include true and meaningful concessions into your contract negotiations. If you fail to do this, you may get hit with a surprise of tens of thousands of dollars in overhead expenses.

Food and Beverage:  What are you offering your event attendees? We have observed planners whose budgets were unexpectedly imploded when they provided coffee, only to discover that the costs at many venues end up being in the vicinity of $100 (after tax and service charges) per gallon. Merely substituting Iced Tea or Lemonade for the coffee, for example, often saves approximately $65 per gallon, and that can often amount to a thousand or more dollars in savings. In regards to food,  perhaps a buffet will be less costly than a plated meal?  Could that money provide greater perceived value if used elsewhere? In any case, you must budget properly for these costs.

Music and entertainment: Music and entertainment typically make up a sizable chunk of many event budgets. What are the true needs, and when and how can these funds be best utilized? You need to know upfront what you are willing and able to spend for these costs. Make sure you have a pro look over the artist production rider. They may require LED Walls or special efx like nitrogen blasts or i-mag. That all needs to be accounted for before you make a binding offer to any artist.

And don’t forget to travel! This should be pre-negotiated.  Sometimes you can ask the artist to take care of their own travel and bundle it within their fee.

All of the above items will find their way into your event budget, so they are worth considering.

Padding in case of emergency

Even when every single aspect of your big day has been mapped out meticulously, things can go wrong. So, when organizing an event, it is always a smart idea to budget for the unexpected (try to build in 10 - 15% of the overall costs just in case.)

Note that you must exercise your backup reserve for emergencies only. It might be tempting to wield your safety net to add some luxury and opulence to your décor with even more florals or upgraded, padded chairs. But, reaching into your rainy-day funds for premium choices may leave you in a scramble if a real crisis unfolds.

In summary

Properly prepared budgeting avoids many hassles that can and should be avoided. Unfortunately, many event planners continue to lack a consistent planning and budgeting procedure, and consistently overpay and under-receive, because of their lack of proper and comprehensive planning and preparation. Are they to be blamed? Well, not really. Preparing a budget involves listing, categorizing and tracking all possible expenses. Sure, some sort of prophetic ability is needed to prepare an effective event budget, but the budgeting process is more about experience and expertise than simply guesswork. This is precisely where our TOAST team of seasoned project managers can help you organize a carefully planned and flawlessly executed event at a budget that you are comfortable with.

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