How to Avoid Common Conference Planning Mistakes
Healthcare conference planning is no easy feat. As a matter of fact, planning corporate meetings and events requires a unique skillset that includes multi-tasking and keen attention to detail. From marketing, registration and sponsorship solicitation to venue coordination, catering and on-site troubleshooting, the work of your average event planner is beyond multi-faceted. Juggling all the various duties can sometimes lead to small, seemingly unimportant details being overlooked. But, let’s face it, every detail counts and dropping balls will ultimately affect someone (or some budget). Here are a few of the most common conference planning mistakes and how to avoid them:
Fail to Create Contingency Plans
What if it rains? What if the keynote speaker doesn’t show up? What if the laptop with all your presentations on it disappears? What if your shipment of sponsor signs gets lost in the mail?
No “what-if” is too small. Assess your event risks!
Review your event schedule from start to finish and create back-up plans where feasible. For instance, if you have to transport groups across town for a reception and there is a 75% chance of rain, pack a box of inexpensive ponchos or umbrellas. Or, better yet, create a sponsorship for it! Also, to avoid “losing” presentations, save them all on a couple of flash drives in the possession of different people. Or, better yet, save them “in the cloud” on a service like DropBox.com.
Spread On-Site Staff Too Thin
Your resources are your best assets. Be sure to coordinate schedules based on peak activity times. There are very few things more annoying at an event than having to wait in a long line. Staff your team accordingly to avoid delays at the registration desk.
You should also consider employing professional contractors as need to supplement your staff.
Cut Corners on F&B Orders
Water, Coffee, Snacks… Oh, my!
“But, I’m already serving them breakfast AND lunch!” It doesn’t matter. For a half-day conference where at least one break is planned, be sure to offer refreshments to your attendees. It’s a sign of good hospitality and your attendees will appreciate the gesture.
Most importantly: trust your catering contact to advise on the order quantities.
Assume WiFi Access Is Available
Word to the wise: Always assume WiFi is NOT available. Then, make it available.
Let’s face it; we’re a society dependent on connections. We text all day. We email all day. We stay connected to the internet all day. And, we HATE to use our own not-unlimited-data-plans to do it all.
Recently, hotels began offering free internet access in hotel rooms; but that doesn’t mean it’s available in corridors and meeting rooms. Ask ahead of time in order to allow for budgeting.
Underestimate the Power of Social Media
Social media provides the most affordable (free!) and effective (word of mouth!) advertising and promotion you could hope for. Make it easy for attendees to “like,” “share,” “mention,” and “tag” during your event.
While you do not want to miss the opportunity for free promotion, be sure to continuously monitor all social media channels during the event. A reputation management plan is important in responding to both negative and positive feedback.