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CONFERENCE PLANNING DO’S & DON’TS

by Meg Bremner,
last updated 29/01/2010

When planning a conference for franchisees, what do you need to know? Here's a helpful list from a professional events manager.

1. Establish the true purpose and objectives of the conference

Give delegates a sense of participation and involvement in the conference. Find ways of creatively integrating the following into as many of the activities as possible:

  • stimulating content
  • powerful learning
  • enthusiastic participation
  • fun and excitement

2. Establish a timetable

Create a critical path plan of everything that has to be done - by when and by whom. This enables proper scheduling of sub-contractors and people within your own organisation. The amount of lead time given to organise the conference is critical. Ensure you allow realistic timeframes in your timetable. Always remember - nothing is as easy as it looks, and everything takes longer than you expect.

3. Establish your costs and your income

Having a carefully planned budget is vital for a successful conference. Your initial budget must be revised regularly to reflect changes as delegate numbers vary, firm quotes are received and additional requirements are added. Firm control is essential to ensure costs do not escalate. Ensure you have one person whose responsibility it is to write the cheques, keeping budget parameters in mind!

4. Put everything in writing

Make sure everything is recorded in writing, detailed notes of meetings are kept and every supplier phone call or discussion is followed up with a written confirmation. This cannot be stressed enough. If you have written confirmation there can never be any dispute later.

5. Check, double check and triple check

Never assume anything. Always check, check again, and then on the day - check again.

Other general points

  • Make sure your conference dates don’t clash with any major events.
  • Don’t compromise on the quality of food and wine.
  • Control the amount of alcohol to be consumed.
  • Ensure that a budget is set with the hotel or venue for alcohol on any open bar and have a designated person who can authorise expenditure over that level.
  • Get everything signed off!
  • Be sure to take into consideration the mix of delegates (male/female ratios) or range of age groups when planning entertainment, menus, conference venues.
  • Make sure you use reputable contractors - audio visual, entertainment, caterers. Check them out yourself.
  • Make sure the conference venue meets all the requirements of your objectives and programme: eg, size of meeting rooms and facilities, standard of accommodation, proximity to airport.
  • What activities/attractions/off-site restaurants & entertainment are available at the destination which may be included in the conference programme to provide variety and maintain the interest of the franchisees?
  • Keep your delegates guessing – it guarantees they won’t get bored.

This article first appeared in Franchise New Zealand magazine Volume 16 Issue 1

See also Making Franchise Conferences Work

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