The Event Planner’s Quick Guide for Conferences (Above 500 Attendees)

If you have read any of our Event Planner’s Quick Guides for Conferences, you should be familiar with our top tips for getting started on your conference management practices.

However, conferences of a much larger scale typically require a great deal more time to plan. You will require essential skills such as multitasking, attention to detail and great organizational skills. Make your event planning process simpler with a conference planning guide that will keep you on schedule and help map out the blueprints needed for planning a conference of this magnitude.

The following timeline describes all the essential steps to follow in organising your next big event over a period of one year.

300 days prior to Conference

Set up the conference website

Nothing compares to having a digital presence for your conference as a means of capturing interest and sharing information about your event. It is not only considered mandatory, but extremely easy to do with GEVME’s Event Web Builder.

Set up the registration platform

When managing a conference of this scale, an online conference registration system like GEVME is your ticket to creating highly customizable registration forms, fast processing of payments, tracking email campaigns and managing attendees’ database.

Create workshops and breakout sessions through your registration form

Depending on how you intend to promote your event, most large conferences divide the agenda into many short sessions, ranging from workshops to open-floor exhibitions. Managing workshop sign-ups is made easy through your registration form. Set limits on the number of seats available per session. Once you have decided on how much you want to charge per signup, GEVME does the rest for you.

270 days prior to Conference

Publicize on social media

Facebook and Twitter are two of the most popular social media platforms used for event publicity. Creating a Facebook event, for example, allows you to relay important updates to your contacts as well as your organizers. If your event is not by-invite-only, then don’t forget to set your event setting as ‘Public’ to promote more invitations throughout the Facebook community. A Twitter page, on the other hand, works best when featuring an up-to-date stream of news and updates.

Open registration and send out email blasts

Be sure to not take too long to open your registration site for early signups after the registration process has been finalized. Attendance is the single most important factor to the success of your event. The second thing to not forget is running event marketing campaigns alongside the opening of registrations. Even the most popular conferences must effectively market their event to fill every seat in the house.

Offer early bird pricing or discounts

Not only is it conventional to offer early bird tickets, it is also a great way to encourage people to commit to your conference early. Easily set the maximum number of early bird tickets and the end date of the promo using GEVME’s Tickets module.

180 days prior to Conference

Announce first set of conference speakers

One of the most valuable marketing tools you have at your fingertips is the speaker announcement. It is always a good idea to introduce your speakers early on in your event communications, but be strategic about it. Here are some good intervals to consider making speaker announcements:

  • When ticket sales open
  • At the end of early bird discounts
  • One or two weeks before the start of the conference

Track registration numbers

Managing registration becomes more difficult as your event grows in size. This is where an online registration system like GEVME can help you track registration numbers, process payments, and organize data. Export the registration data from GEVME in a registration spreadsheet, noting the total number of registrations made each week.

150 days prior to Conference

Announce the closing of the early bird registration

Do not miss this golden opportunity to announce the closing of early bird sales a week before the closing date as it still remains as one of the most effective marketing and call-to-action tool for driving attendance to an event. Don’t be surprised if you see hordes of people reacting positively.

Announce the updated list of conference speakers

We mentioned a few points before that one of the best moments to announce your updated list of speakers is at the end of the early bird registration. Do so with two to four speakers at a time to draw the attention of your invitees to your conference.

60 days prior to Conference

Remarket your emails

Powered by GEVME, you should be able to analyze all your past email campaigns with a holistic view of the total number of unique opens and clicks of all your recipients. Here is what you can do if you wish to drive more attendance to your conference – engage in Email Remarketing. It is a technique that is used to send the same email again to the list of people who did not open your previous emails. One tip for better results is to use the same email content but change the subject line. Do this only once. You should see a boost in your open rates, going up from 22% to 32%.

30 days prior to Conference

Announce final ticket sales

Four weeks before the conference, you may see a spike in ticket sales similar to the first peak we experienced at the end of the early bird discounts. By now, most of your potential attendees understand that this is their last chance to attend your event and will rush to make a ticket purchase. If you’re lucky, you’ll sell out during this last spike.

7 days prior to Conference

Close registration

In our previous guides for planning a conference, we have shared how most event organizers like to close online registrations one week prior to the event as this gives them time to send final confirmations or reminder emails to registered participants. There are others, on the other hand, who prefer keeping online registrations open throughout. Either way, take this time to ensure all registration forms submitted online have been properly processed.

Compile final list of registered participants

With all the data collated on a cloud-based system like GEVME, the online platform allows you to easily organize your data into customizable reports from attendees’ listings to the list of payments collected. Export them into Excel spreadsheets on your computer for easy reference and management.

Pre-print name badge designs

By using the GEVME Onsite App, you can personalize name badge designs according to the corporate identity of your conference. Helpful information to put on the badges include:

  • Full Names
  • Titles
  • Institutional affiliations

You may also consider printing different name badge colours to represent the different categories of registrants for differentiation during the event.

1 day prior to Conference

Set up registration counters with rented tablets and laptops

Now is the time to make sure all the late nights, physical labor and constant worries pay off – starting with registration. The last thing you want for your event is a poor registration process that is both manual and time-consuming. Provide the ultimate hassle-free onsite check-in experience for your attendees through the use of QR codes and barcodes using the GEVME Onsite feature.

Rent name badge printers for onsite printing

You might think that pre-printing name badges overnight would save you time during the event registration.

Not really. In fact, it can be quite the opposite. GEVME optimizes the registration process by triggering name badge printing the moment your attendees check in.

Provide training for onsite registration

Many months of solid planning and preparation can easily evaporate into thin air if they are followed by the lack of training – especially for onsite registrations. Besides training your registration staff on the check-in process, make sure they know the information needed and how to handle problems, delegates, VIPs, and payment. You want people to stop, register, and move on seamlessly.

Prepare original registration and other event related documents in advance

It is always a good idea to print a copy of the final list of attendees in the event of a technical glitch. Also, event organizers have found it helpful to have copies of the programme with the exact time slots of the presentations and breakout sessions as a reference. Keep some to display by the registration counters. 

7 days AFTER Conference

Send thank-yous and acknowledgement emails

This may be the last task to complete as an event organizer, but it is also one of the most important. Once the conference wraps up, thank all attendees involved and conclude the event through an email campaign software – like the GEVME Email Marketing app.

Conduct a post-conference survey

After all the stress and hard work, now is your chance to find out what you can do better with your next event. While preparing your survey or questionnaire, GEVME allows you to customize your questions easily and capture the best feedback from your attendees by targeting segmented attendees online.

Whether it is a 100 pax seminar or a 1000 pax conference, our go-to guides for event planners is a handy tool for not only keeping you in check and on schedule, but to also provide the much needed assurance that you have not missed out on any important details while planning a conference.

In the end, one of the most rewarding feelings you will experience in putting together a conference this size is the incredible accomplishment of a job well done – considering how overwhelming conference planning may seem to those who have never been involved in similar projects. Let us not forget how great the event industry is, where people share inspiring things, create memorable experiences for one another, and meet new friends.

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