Believe it or not, fall is in full swing, as is one of the year’s biggest conference seasons. VMWorld Europe will be kicking off in early November, while Dreamforce will soon be taking over San Francisco once again, with close to 200,000 people expected in attendance.
As quickly and seamlessly as they seem to come each year, major conferences take months of planning (try six to nine on average). At first, planning so far in advance might seem extreme and overwhelming, until you realize the sheer amount of preparation required to execute one of these complex events.
Large and small-scale conferences alike come with unique challenges. No matter the size, every event’s success is determined by one thing: how well it’s planned and put together. The planning process can be tricky and oftentimes brings with it unforeseen hurdles. Luckily, there are proactive steps event planners and marketers can consider in order to get and stay organized from the start.
1. Conveying the right brand message
Conferences are a part of a company’s overall marketing plan, yet they aren’t always treated with the same brand expectations and guidelines in mind. With all the time and attention that goes into what’s going to happen on the ground – venue selection, speakers, session topics – businesses who don’t put as much thought into how they market these exciting updates to potential attendees will lose out.
To avoid hindering your conference’s reputation, event planners and marketers can work together to design seamless, eye-popping session catalogs and materials. Beyond staying “on-brand,” these interactive elements allow attendees to plan their own event experiences and put all the information they need in one place to avoid any day-of confusion or frustration.
2. Planning the speaker experience
Speakers are often the biggest draw to any conference. Attendees are eager to see who will hit the stage and speakers, themselves, want to be sure they deliver relevant and engaging content to their audiences. In reality, the speaker planning process starts the moment you secure the names of who will speak.
To keep top-notch spokespeople and brands coming back year after year – and make their own jobs easier – event planners need to consider how they’ll make it as smooth as possible for speakers to upload and review their session content ahead of the event. Part of the planning process is ensuring strong, relevant content shows up onstage, and enabling seamless collaboration between your reviewers and speakers will ensure this gets done.
3. Personalizing for the masses
It’s difficult enough to plan one conference, let alone consider how you’re going to create a personalized experience within that event for hundreds and thousands of attendees. But, to take your conference to the next level, each attendee should feel like they’re receiving the “white glove treatment” – individualized recommendations and communications from your brand that speak to their interests.
Ahead of your conference, bake into your planning process how and when you’ll target attendees. With the right solutions, this is easy. With data captured before the conference, event marketers can ensure they offer recommended content to attendees that is relevant, while event planners will benefit from tracking session and booth sign-ups, and knowing attendees are squared away with their conference schedules.
Planning any event – big or small – is no easy feat. To take a conference to the next level, however, event marketers and planners can consider how they’ll convey a consistent brand message with their pre-event materials, ensure speakers are set up for onstage success, and utilize attendee data before the show to share personalized session recommendations.