For many businesspeople and researchers, attending or presenting at conferences is a regular part of their professional role. However, when it comes to planning, coordinating, or booking conferences, most regular conference attendees wouldn’t know where to start.
Indeed, event planning is an industry in itself. Even small conferences with under a dozen participants require logistics and practical planning that can be daunting to someone who’s never done it before. Tasks such as booking hotel rooms and conferences, scheduling meetings, catering the necessary meals and refreshments, and coordinating travel and parking, are among the more obvious. But there are other tasks, which inexperienced conference and event planners might easily forget—tasks such as ensuring the right audiovisual equipment is available to presenters, programs, and signage to help attendees find their way to different meeting rooms. These difficulties are one of the main reasons why many hotels and conference sites offer package deals, including the assistance of a professional event planner.
Hotel Destination Planning
When choosing a hotel to host your conference, you should consider factors such as location and price. If your company is based in a large city, you may find that travelling even a short distance to a more suburban location can save you a lot of money, especially considering parking, room rates, and facility fees. Once you choose a hotel destination, you may wish to hire an event planner to take care of the specifics. After asking a series of questions about the conference, an experienced event planner can ease the planning process, taking the burden off company representatives and managers.
Booking a facility is one of the first steps in the process of hosting a conference. The facility often sets the tone for the event, and the rooms must also be adequate to accommodate the number of participants, as well as the type of events slated to occur, whether they’re panel discussions, workshops, brainstorming or skill-building sessions, trade shows, or keynote speakers. If you are hosting clients, business partners, or other important guests, the conference facility you choose offers an indication of the effort your company is willing to undertake to ensure guests are comfortable. While you may want to choose a high-end location, it may not be a possibility due to location, availability, or budget.
You should book as early in advance of the date of your event as possible. Otherwise, you risk having limited choices as to available locations. Larger events should be booked up to a year prior to the date. Many organizations find it beneficial to establish a working relationship with the venue well in advance of the date of the conference. If you frequently have to plan conferences or book rooms, you should get to know the venues available in your area in order to ease the booking process.
One of the key benefits of hosting a conference at a hotel is the opportunity to block off a number of rooms for conference attendees and secure a group rate. Group rates can range from 5-15% off the regular price, so it’s well worth it to select a hotel based on their ability to give a group rate, especially if employees will be claiming expenses.