It’s safe to assume that planning a convention comes with a range of complexities. There are several things that need to be considered in order to make it successful. This means that if the convention isn’t planned down to every detail then it’s not going to work out the way you want it to. Setting the perfect date, contracting the right motivational and keynote speaker, finding a suitable location and making sure everyone can get there easily are some of the fundamentals for this project. Here are the top 5 things you need to know before planning a convention.
1. Speakers and Entertainment
When it comes down to it then your first order of business needs to be finding the right motivational speaker and necessary entertainment. If you don’t have somebody that is going to connect with your audience then it doesn’t matter what location you choose, because the audience is going to be bored. Make this your first priority and establish that you have something valuable to offer the people that come. Some of the best motivational speakers in the world, such as John Pullum for example, only require a city and actual date in order to accept your invitation.
With this in mind, make sure you only get a keynote speaker that’s worth the effort and the time. Ask for references and watch some videos if you have to, but don’t give your audience a reason to fall asleep.
2. Location, Location, Location
The second step is to find the perfect place for the convention. First look at who you will be inviting and where they will be coming from. You want to make it very easy and affordable for them to get there, so consider the geographical implications. Take into account how much the location is going to cost as well, because you don’t want to end up over-spending. Last but not least, pay attention to the weather conditions. Las Vegas can be over 110 degrees most summer days and Michigan can be well below zero degrees in the winter. You also don’t want to book an event in Florida during hurricane season.
In other words, you want a backup plan when the weather isn’t going to play along. If it’s going to be an outdoor event in the summer time then get the necessary tents and coverage. But if you decide on an indoor event, which is especially helpful during the winter, take note of the environment and the atmosphere. You want it to be welcoming and exciting.
3. Accommodations / Convention Center
Always take into account the hotels where your guests are going to be staying. More importantly, you don’t want the air fares and the accommodation to be too expensive, because then you will be facing a lot of last minute cancellations. Some hotels raise their prices really high and sell out in a hurry if popular conventions are in town. You want to make sure you pick a time where this won’t happen you to, unless you are the popular convention. If it’s within your means to arrange transportation from the airport to the convention center or hotels then definitely consider it, because it’s going to count as a big convenience for those who are coming.
It’s also important to look at whether the convention center will be able to accommodate the number of guests and if the right equipment is available for the entertainment and motivational speaker, such as the lighting and the microphones. Read reviews on the hotels and convention centers you are considering before making your decision. Flying out to the location to check them out in advance before you book them is always a good idea. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Don’t trust the beautiful photos they put online. You can get high quality venues at nice prices if you do your research and are flexible on event dates.
4. Transportation / Flights
Regardless of whether the company is paying for the transportation or whether the people will be responsible for the bill, always compare travel costs. If possible, travel arrangements that leads to the exact location is always better, because it takes the pain out of traveling. Is the hotel attached to the convention center or do your guests have to walk a long distance? If they have to walk, is a free shuttle bus available? There might be some people who will drive to the convention so look at the parking facilities. Some convention centers and hotels will offer free parking for your guests during your negotiations with them. If they don’t, ask for it. Make sure everything is in writing.
There are many perks you should be looking out for, such as better rates for rooms, free WiFi, gym and spa facilities. In some cases they might even offer free rooms, but it comes with a contingency that the hotel will sell a certain amount of meals and rooms during the period of the convention. It’s crucial that you don’t overestimate the latter because you will have to pay the difference. The hotels and convention centers want your business and are usually willing to go above and beyond to get it. If you tell them you are looking at other locations as well, this sometimes makes them offer you even more perks to win your business.