Running Your Own Conference: Tips to Ensure Its Success

One of the best ways to establish your company as a front runner in your niche or industry is to host a conference or convention. People love events like these because they offer fantastic opportunities for networking and face time with industry leaders that would have been difficult or maybe even impossible to get outside of the communal environment these events provide.

Of course, knowing that throwing a convention is a good idea and knowing how to ensure that it is successful are two different things. If you want to make sure that your event is successful, here are some of the things that you need to do.

Find Adequate Space

If you know that you want to have a highly exclusive event and only allow, say, fifty people to attend, then hosting your conference in a hotel and using its ballrooms and conference centers is probably sufficient. If you want to open it up to the larger community, though, a hotel probably isn’t the best place (unless it’s huge). In 2012, the founders of Rose City Comicon held their first event in Portland’s Doubletree Hotel ballroom and two conference rooms. It was packed to capacity throughout the entire event.

This was great for the organizers who weren’t sure the event would be well received, but it was frustrating for attendees who had to wait in long lines just to be able to enter the event. The following year, Rose City Comicon expanded to the Oregon Convention Center and everybody was much happier.

Technology is Important

It is important to make sure that your event is up to par, technologically speaking. You’ll need to make sure your event space can handle a large number of people accessing its wireless network at once. Then you’ll want to make sure that you’re using current tech to facilitate the event itself. A lot of event organizers find it useful to plan their agendas with a conference app, which provides both them and their attendees with real time data. In addition to facilitating real time communication between attendees and organizers, an event app allows for schedules to be updated in seconds. Yes, having radios on which to communicate is a good idea, but that should be your backup plan, not your only way to communicate with your team.

Marketing

Marketing your event is important, especially if your event is new to your industry. Marketing is how you build expectations and excitement. Do not wait until a few weeks before your event to do a big marketing push. You should be marketing and promoting your event as soon as it has been firmly placed on a schedule and a venue has been booked. The longer lead time you give people to make plans for your event, the better your attendance will be.

Being able to point to your growing attendance numbers will also help make booking talent and industry leaders who might have been on the fence about whether to commit their time to an event that doesn’t have an established fan base.

Diversity and Harassment Policies

You wouldn’t think that this would need to be pointed out in the 21st century, but here it is: events that only feature and highlight caucasian males are not well received by attendees. You need to make sure that you have a diverse lineup of speakers, panels, talking points, etc. You want to make sure that everybody in your industry is represented.

It’s also important to understand that harassment runs rampant at conventions and conferences, even in professional settings. Make sure you have a hard line anti-harassment in place before you start selling passes and make sure that harassment policy is posted and printed everywhere. Ensure that you have enough staff on hand who have been properly trained in handling harassment complaints.

There are so many details that you need to take care of when you are planning an event. These are just a few of the most important. If you’re not sure where to go from here, follow this rule of thumb: when in doubt, ask yourself what you would expect or want from an event. Then make sure to take care of the event you are building.