Organizing tips for the 2021 conference season
Planning a conference is a highly complex task under the best of circumstances. This year, it is further complicated by the unpredictability surrounding the ongoing pandemic and ever-changing safety protocols. Hence, it is now all the more important to be as prepared as possible with multiple contingency protocols in place should things go awry. With the 2021 conference season approaching fast, the following tips will help you get organized.
1. Give yourself plenty of lead time.
Organizing a conference entails many moving parts like booking a venue, coordinating with event managers and keynote speakers, and organizing entertainment, food, and beverages, just to name a few. Apart from that, you will also have to make sure your event complies with COVID-19 protocols.
Give yourself a minimum of five months to organize a conference. Ideally, fall is the best time to organize a conference when most people return to work from their summer vacations, and their kids go back to school.
After setting a date for the conference, start hunting for and booking a venue, speakers, and accommodations (if required). These things take time as they are subject to availability and price fluctuations. Sort these items out first, as they are the most significant pieces to the puzzle.
2. Find a venue with indoor and outdoor capabilities.
Many organizers shy away from booking venues with outdoor capabilities since they tend to be more expensive. However, outdoor events are always fun and serve as great distractions for attendees who want a break from the indoor events. It is also easier to enforce social distancing outdoors and is considered safer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
You can also distribute the location of events both indoors and outdoors, allowing attendees to pick a schedule based on their comfort level and safety concerns. Indoor and outdoor options create more dynamic photo opportunities as well.
3. Double down on online promotion.
The pandemic continues to be a massive detriment to the social interaction of industry professionals. It forced industry events to be canceled and many professionals to work remotely from home. This resulted in a surge in social media usage since mid-2020. Therefore, keep in mind the prevalence of digital interaction between industry professionals in recent times. Upscale your conference’s online and social media presence to get folks talking about it virtually.
Make sure that all event details and contact information are updated and available online. Also, set up a dedicated customer service portal to address queries from potential attendees. You can also consider using affiliates as a great way to incentivize attendees to promote your event in their respective circles.
4. Give out good swag.
Everyone likes free stuff. Gifts can serve as great tools to create positive associations between your organization and event attendees. In addition, you can partner up with various brands to include their products in your swag bag and boost your event to a broader audience while opening channels of future business with those brands.
Gifts, if you choose them strategically, can serve as excellent promotional materials for your conference. For example, you can buy tote bags wholesale from Quality Logo Products, complete with the conference’s logo. It serves as promotional material and paints a picture of your company’s dedication to environmental sustainability.
5. Be prepared (and be flexible).
Event planning can only anticipate so much when it comes to things going wrong and contingencies. Furthermore, the pandemic adds an aspect of unpredictability for such in-person events.
To ensure that the conference doesn’t experience any unforeseen hiccups, have all required safety protocols in place, complete with sufficient availability of masks and hand sanitizers. Equally important is the constant availability of sealed water bottles and a standby team of engineers and medics. Finally, keep in mind that pandemic protocols are constantly changing, and you should flexibly plan your event schedule to accommodate for the same.
Preparation is the key to success.
As event planners, you must ensure that everything goes smoothly and without too many hindrances.
While it is impossible to plan and predict everything, you can mitigate the onset of most unforeseen situations by being as prepared as possible. Remember, events only fail when a chain of things goes wrong at the same time.
If you break the chain, then the chances are that those mistakes would merely be a few isolated incidents considered normal for such large-scale events.