5 Tips for Planning Events Around Existing Conventions
#1 – Collaborate with Existing Convention
To get the best bang for your buck, the most important tip for planning your “In Conjunction With” event is to check with event management to see if they have guidelines in place to support your event. They may offer a sponsorship level or exhibitor opportunity that will allow you to host your event off-site. Not only does sponsoring give you an “in” into the existing convention, you are also likely to receive attend contact lists in advance so that you can begin your “In Conjunction With” event promotions. Collaborating with the event planners will also ensure that your event does not conflict with others and that it is included in the program. Being included in the convention program will present it as official and legitimate.
Working with the convention planners will also save you from a lot of legwork. They have likely already established connections at surrounding hotels, restaurants, event venues, and off-site attractions. They can probably also supply you with a reliable list of suppliers including destination-management companies, transportation providers, entertainment, etc.
#2 – Set Goals in Advance
What is your budget? Who is your target audience? What is your objective – lead generation, increased visibility, brand promotion, sales, etc.? The best way to measure ROI is to plan ahead. So, define your objectives before researching venues, hiring caterers, selecting menus, and booking entertainment. If networking is your goal, a cocktail reception is preferable to a seated dinner. If your goal is unconventional education, you might consider throwing in some live polling and other interactive presentations. Research venues and explore creative ways you could utilize spaces only after your event goals and objectives are defined.
#3 – Select a Nearby Venue
Attendees are more likely to attend your “In Conjunction With” event if it is reasonably easy to get to. To attract tradeshow attendees, a venue within walking distance of the show hotel and/or convention center is ideal. Unless your event is hosted at a famous venue or tourist attraction, staying close to home base is preferred by most convention attendees. Just don’t lose sight of your goals. It is important not to force your objectives on a particular venue, but rather to use them to guide you to the perfect [nearby] off-site venue.
#4 – Get Creative!
Your guests have been in traditional general sessions, breakout sessions, and panel discussion all day long. Your “In Conjunction With” event is an opportunity to give them an escape! Aside from parties and happy hour events, campfires, learning labs, Ted-style talks, and experiential tours are always well-received. These unique formats promote networking and encourage people to engage not only with each other, but with their hosts and sponsors.
Whatever format you choose, remember to never sacrifice quality. If your budget cannot accommodate the number of guests you are likely to attract, consider hosting a VIP event with a select guest list. Treating fewer people to an exclusive and fantastically well-received event will result in them shouting your praises to the masses.
#5 – Post Event Follow-Up
Follow-up is crucial to the culmination of any event. Your event is not “over” the second your last guest exits the building; it requires one more important event planning step. At the very least, a formal “thank you” should be sent to all those attending. So, be sure to keep track of attendees! All post-event communication pieces are valuable marketing and communications opportunities for fostering relationships. Create an on-going drip campaign to stay in touch with them (without being obnoxious, of course).
As you can see, hosting an “In Conjunction With” event at an existing convention with existing contacts can be a huge opportunity for business growth. But, it takes some planning to be successful. With event planners like Infinix Global on your team, your next event is sure to be a big hit!