Table of Contents
Great Conference Planners For Great Conferences
Successful conferences do not just happen by themselves. They take great effort from great people to make it happen. So who are these great people? They are either composed of you and an ad hoc team assigned to organize the event or meeting, or conference planners who can do the job for you. But how do you identify the great ones? What must be your criteria in hiring one?
Criteria in Choosing Conference Planners
1. Area of Specialization Fits Your Needs. A multitude of conference planners and event planners are ready to help you organize your event, be it a wedding, a corporate meeting, a summit for marketing experts, a powwow among friends or a class reunion. In selecting an conference planner or event planner, pick one whose experience and specialization is in line with the event that you are planning. You may want to stay away from local wedding planners and go with corporate conference planners if you are organizing a world convention for cardiologists. Also consider conference planners who have experience in the particular place where you will be holding your conference as they may be better connected with the local vendors there rather than transporting members of crew and the materials and equipment of suppliers from out-of-town. If your event is a formal or professional one, it will do you well to hire a professional meeting planner or event planner rather than a caterer or florist even if they have been in the industry for some time.
When looking at the capabilities of a conference planner, also think about your own capabilities. Can you do the conceptualization of the event itself, and just need someone who can do the legwork, heavy lifting and putting things together for you? Or do you need someone who can work with you from scratch because you have no idea of how to go about it? In this case you may need to consult a full out conference meeting planner, a possible MPI member, who is creative and great at conceptualizing.
2. Great Listener and Good Communication Skills. The foundation of the success of your conference lies greatly on the communication between you and the conference planner. He or she must be all ears to what you want to do or what you need. In this way they can also appropriately respond and ask the right questions. He or she must be able to effectively convey to you his or her plans for your approval and be able to manage your expectations.
3. Great At Budgeting. An important aspect in planning any conference is budget, without which, the event cannot take place. A good conference planner must have the acumen to work within budget, maximize financial and other resources available, and find solutions for situations where allocations need to be slashed.
4. Great Leadership Skills. A conference planner has to direct the entire proceedings of the event and must be able to orchestrate all the different aspects of the event. Hence, he or she must possess leadership skills to help him or her handle and motivate the crew of suppliers and members of the organizing committee in working towards a unified goal. Strong leadership skills will also help him or her gain your confidence that you made the right choice. You would not want to work with someone who you have no confidence in, would you?
5. Foresight and Experience. The conference planner you hire must be farsighted. No, they do not have to wear eyeglasses, but they must have the imagination or foresight to see things that may happen during the event. In this way, they can anticipate and, hence, forestall disasters, or think of something better. This ability is often a product of experience, so consider someone who has been around the industry for some time already and who has handled quite a number of successful conferences. A conference planner who stays on top of the conference and event planning industry. Possibly one who belongs to a great conference planners association and actively participates in industry events and networking.
6. Problem Solver. Despite ample preparation and planning, minor hiccups may arise, necessitating someone who can troubleshoot the situation.
7. Attention To Detail. Planning a conference is a huge (HUGE) task involving so many aspects. That is why, a person who can get into the nitty-gritty of things is most useful, so that you can go on interacting with your guests, superiors and colleagues, knowing that the details of the event is in really good hands.