The Event Planner's Quick Guide to Conferences (Below 200 Attendees)
At first, glance, putting together a 100 - 200 pax conference seems like a walk in the park, and it is certainly so. This guide will show you that even with entry-level experience in the events industry, organizing a small conference is surprisingly easy.
Read on for a deeper insight into how you can plan your first successful event over a period of three months.
90 days before conference
Set up an event landing page
The first step to organizing a conference is to make your event visible for interested participants to discover more information about your event. What better way to do this than to create an event landing page? Regardless of whether they search for your event via search engines or directly from the organizer’s website, this will increase the exposure of your event and help to communicate information.
Blast out your 1st Invitation email
For conferences this small, some organizers may decide to open registration early, and that is fine. However, if you do not have at least an outline of the conference program, you might not want to start asking people to register in advance. Alternatively, organizers can choose to use this time to promote specific conference details such as the when, where and what. Start with your save-the-date messaging so that when you are ready to ask for registrations, you have a clear shot at your prospects’ calendars.
60 days before conference
Set up a registration platform
Setting up registration forms for small-scaled conferences is easy, with just the right amount of custom fields for delegates to provide essential information. By using the GEVME registration platform, any organizer will immediately be given the ability to create professional registration forms in a matter of minutes.
Blast out your 2nd Invitation email
Your registration page should be up and be running by this time, which brings us to our next step in planning a conference: email marketing. You should have enough information on the program to start creating your own series of direct email promotions. Concentrate on communicating the conference’s content and how people who attend will benefit from it. This will better facilitate your interested parties in making a decision.
Remarket your emails
There is a technique we use to drive more attendance to conferences, and it is called Email Remarketing. It is such a simple methodology, yet very few event organizers remember to do this. The idea is to simply send the same email again to the list of people who did not open your previous emails.
Here’s a tip: 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 before Conference
Send out your final Invitation email
With just one month away, we are that much closer to the day of the conference. If you are seeing bad numbers on your current registration count, it is highly possible that there are people who fall in either one of the following categories:
They are interested to attend but haven’t had the time to register
They are sitting on the fence with their decisions
They have no idea what the conference is about
They are simply not interested
Depending on your current registration number, your target audience should be the groups of people who are still undecided about your conference. Talk broadly about the event highlights and mention both keynote speakers and the topics they will be covering the event. The perception of expertise on the given topics of education and content is usually the deciding factor for those who are still deciding to attend.
Send out automated confirmation emails to ticket buyers or main registrants
Once a ticket buyer or registrant has completed the registration and payment is complete, send a confirmation email with a PDF copy of the event ticket with a unique QR code and barcode for onsite registration.
7 days before conference
Close your registration site
Now that you have seen registrants steadily filling up conference seats, the majority of event organizers typically close their registration at this juncture. This will give you sufficient time to tabulate the final list of registered participants, send final confirmations of registration and resolve any last-minute queries.
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 onto 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 will include names, titles and institutional affiliations. You may also consider printing different name badge colors for the different categories of registrants to easily differentiate them during the event.
1 day before conference
Set up digital kiosks with GEVME Access
One of the biggest hurdles that event organizers are often faced with is a poor registration process that is both manual and time-consuming. The GEVME Onsite feature strives to provide the ultimate onsite check-in experience by using QR code and barcode features, coupled with digital kiosks to encourage self-check-ins.
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 program with the exact time slots of the presentations and breakout sessions as a reference. Keep some to display by the registration counters.
Ensure all on-site digital kiosks are in working order
When your delegates show up to check-in at your event, the last thing you want for your theme is to experience long queue times. To prevent this, it is important to ensure that there are enough people at the check-in desks/tables and that they are familiar with the check-in process to make the onsite experience as seamless as possible. If there are part-timers working at the counters, make sure that one of the conference organizers is present as well in the event of questions from delegates.
Finally, D-day has arrived.
As your delegates check in smoothly and name badges have been distributed without any difficulty or delay using GEVME’s onsite digital kiosks, the next thing to do is to simply enjoy the rest of the conference and know that your efforts put in the past five months have been well deserved.
7 days AFTER conference
Send thank-yous and acknowledgment emails
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
Besides thank you emails, you may also want to send out surveys to your attendees to find out what their experience was like. This should be done no longer than one week after the event as you want their feedback while the event is still fresh in their minds.
We have claimed that planning a small conference can be easy, but nothing counts more than actual experience. With over 10 years worth of knowledge in the business of events, the team at GEVME has nearly seen it all and done it all. This quick guide is your ticket to ensuring that your event stays true to the goals you have set. Not to forget that at GEVME, we have a reliable team of helpers who will assist you at every step of the way when it comes to getting your conference on the road.