Over the holidays, I got to attend a work party that a good friend put together. She works in the healthcare department of a multinational company and she was tasked with planning the afterparty of the annually held Healthcare Analytics Conference. She did a great job and organized an after party that left all the uptight executives and company staff relaxed and pleased. There was good food, music, and even a photo booth with goofy props.

So what goes into planning a great conference and afterparty? Well, it takes a lot of behind the scene work which includes planning, coordination, time management, people management and lots more. Below we discuss some of major the steps to take to put together a good conference or afterparty



Create a Budget

When you want to plan a conference or work after party/event, the first thing you need to do is to plan your budget. You need to decide how much you want to spend and then break it down for the different things you need.

Will you need paid speakers? Will meals be part of the meeting? How about the venue? What kind of conference rooms will you need? Will you need to book hotel rooms for out-of-town speakers?.Will you be hiring vendors to create printed or web-based material for meeting-related information? This are some of the questions you need to ask when planning your budget then you need to make a list of everything you need and estimate how much each item will cost.

Look for Venues and Book Services

Once you have the budget all set, you need to start searching for a venue. You need to start looking for venues and book one in advance because most good venues are frequently booked and the earlier you look the more you will have options to choose from. When looking for a venue you don’t just book the one that has the hall size you want you need to get other services. Most venues have packages that you can choose from such as catering services, overnight accommodations for guests, and a ton of other in-house services that you can take advantage of.

Types of Venues

 

There are different types of venues that you can book, the most popular options are:


University campuses:

These are best suited for smaller, academic events and are relatively cheap to hire.


Hotels:

These typically have dedicated conference facilities and own catering. They’re the best all-in-one choice since they offer both accommodation and conference space. They also tend to be the most expensive option.


Independent venues:

This category includes all other types of venues that can host conferences. Many of these specialize in specific types of events.


But the cost of the venue is just one part of the puzzle. Here are a few other factors to consider when looking for the right venue:


Size:

Booking a too-small venue where everybody has to squeeze into a tiny room is clearly a bad idea. Similarly, securing a giant venue for a relatively modest crowd will not only hurt your wallet but also make the conference feel empty and poorly attended.


Location:

You have to pick a good location that fits the atmosphere of your conference and theme. If its a retreat you need to pick a secluded and picturesque location to help your guests relax. If it’s a financial conference you might want to pick a location in the city’s business district to give your conference the wall street business vibe.


Transportation:

How easy is it for participants to travel to the venue by public transport? Are there enough parking spots for those who drive? How far is the parking lot from the venue? These are things to consider before you choose a venue.


Technical aspects:

Does the venue have the right IT, audio, and video equipment? You’ll need projection screens, microphones, plenty of charging spots for participants, and solid internet connection/wifi.




Assemble a Planning Team


You will need a team to help organize your conference and you’ll have to be able to manage the team you choose properly. If you choose the right team member and delegate rules, your main job will be to coordinate the team, set priorities, and delegate tasks. You can break your team down into responsibilities like:

Planning team: Conference venue, accommodation, activities, catering.
Administration team: Budgeting, attendee registration, ticket sales. This team/person will also be the main point of contact for questions related to the conference.
Marketing team: Contacting the media, creating promotional material, managing your website, blog, and social media activities.
Fundraising team: In charge of securing sponsors, applying for grants, and fundraising.
Volunteering: Helping with all on-site activities on the day of the conference: door management, ticket scanning, keeping track of the guest list, guiding people, etc.
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