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Planning a Successful Convention - Part 2 of 2

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Post Planning a Successful Convention - Part 2 of 2   Sat Aug 13, 2011 12:04 pm

If you're in charge of planning a convention (or a major conference for your company or industry), don't forget the follow-up work that must come after the event has ended. Here are our best post-convention planning tips.

After the Event has Ended

1. Make Some Notes

Now that your convention has ended, you can relax, right? Well, not exactly. The smarter approach would be to make some notes to assist you (or the next lucky individual who will take this responsibility over from you) in planning your next convention. Make notes about what worked, what didn't work, things you liked and didn't like about the venue, and what recommendations you have for improving next year's event. Have a debriefing meeting with your committee members - they will have additional input for you, as well as from conversations they had in the field during the event.

2. Analyze the Data

Review, summarize and analyze the responses from your participant surveys. Pay attention to what worked, what wasn't as well received, and what suggestions were made by participants for improving the process and experience. Include this information with your notes from the previous step. Additionally, review your budget - did you meet it? What funds were spent that could be avoided or omitted going forward? Where would funds have been better spent (for example, your participant surveys may show that additional signage was needed to avoid confusion and manage traffic flow - knowing this, you can add funds to next year's signage budget).

3. Data Entry (if applicable)

Hopefully, you were able to collect participant information electronically, which eliminates the need for data entry. If not, it pays to get forms entered sooner rather than later after your event - this way, you are building your contact list for next event's "save the date" mailing.

4. Say "Thank You"

After your event, send out your thank you notes or letters to those who assisted in some key way. This would include committee members, volunteers, staff, sponsors, speakers, vendors who donated funds or items (flowers, decorations, beverages, publicity, etc.) to the event. Never underestimate the power of a thank you - when you take the time to express sincere gratitude, these same individuals and vendors will be even more receptive when you approach them for assistance next year.

5. Make Decisions for Next Time

You can begin making some key decisions about the next event (venue, location, speakers, even the date and duration) based on the feedback received and the overall experience of this event.

And here are some additional tips to keep in mind when it comes to convention planning.

Early Does It

The earlier you begin planning your event, the easier your task will be. This includes early ordering of supplies, materials and equipment. The "save the date" card is absolutely essential in helping potential attendees to make travel arrangements, clear their calendar, secure approvals and funding from their company (if applicable) and help spread the word.

Swipe the Best Ideas

What have you seen or experienced at another conference or convention that impressed you most or caught (and held) your attention? Poll your committee with the same question, and swipe the best ideas to implement into your event.

Your Booth

When designing your own booth, be sure to create an open, inviting atmosphere. Keep clutter to a minimum and make use of clean lines and a streamlined presentation. Pictures and graphics should be vibrant, relevant, and eye-catching. If your budget has room, use a carpet underlay - not only does it warm the space visually and provide additional sound buffer within a noisy vendor area, but it also works wonders for your feet since you'll be standing all day long.

Staff Training

Prepare in advance, to ensure that your committee members and staff understand their role, know how to communicate with each other during the event itself, and have a clear plan for the speedy resolution of any issues that may arise. Test all videos, equipment, etc. to ensure full functionality and compatibility, and to ensure that the responsible parties know how to operate equipment and audiovisuals.

Branding and Identity

Your staff should have a coordinating and cohesive appearance - that might include custom golf shirts or button-down shirts and a uniform color (e.g., black pants and black shoes). Maintain the event's branding by using the logo or graphics wherever possible.

When you start early and stay organized, you're sure to lead your committee in the right direction for planning and executing any major event.

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