What Does A Professional Conference Organiser Do?
By hiring a professional conference organiser for your event you are ensuring a smooth, well managed and successful conferencing event.
A professional conference organiser, also known as a conference manager or PCO, specialises in running and managing conferences for corporate firms, academics and researchers. They deal with every element of the conference organising process. Liaising with all suppliers ensures a smooth running to your event. Furthermore, they work with each client on an individual basis. Understanding desired outcomes and goals for the conference to ensure optimal success.
Not only do conference organisers have to ensure that the event runs smoothly, but they also have to ensure that the company who has hired them to run their conference achieves their goals from that conference. For example, if the client wants to ensure that all delegates leave the conference fully understanding the company’s plans for the year ahead, then, as conference organisers, we have to come up with a strategy on how to successfully communicate this information in a memorable and informative manner, keeping delegates engaged throughout.
From organising and liaising with keynote and plenary speakers, to negotiating sponsorship deals, exhibitors and delegate management. Not to mention negotiating with venues, organising all the AV and arranging any travel details.
In this article we have outlined the different roles and responsibilities you can expect your conference organiser to take on. Although each conferencing event will require a custom level of services, a conference organiser manages everything to the most minute detail.
Negotiating Contracts With Suppliers
One of the big bonuses of booking a conference organiser is being exposed to their industry knowledge and connections. Want the very best venue space? Need to book a keynote speaker last minute? Want to book a skilled and component AV team? If you book a professional and skilled conference organiser they will have industry connections to solve all of these issues.
Furthermore, due to the relationships and trust you conference organiser has built up with their industry connections, they will often be able to negotiate the very best terms and prices. Maximising your budget and saving you so much time.
Additionally, your conference organiser will be able to compile and shortlist a selection of reputable, yet cost-effective options. These can then be submitted to your conference committee. They will also deal with all contracts and agreements outlined by your suppliers, ensuring that all details and clauses are closely inspected to make sure you get exactly what you want without having to worry about any hidden fees or stipulations.
As soon as your conference committee has signed off on your budget you can hand this over to your conference organiser. They will then be able to prioritise budget to key areas, focusing more budget on areas that have been highlighted as important.
With years of experience under their belts and having often run hundreds if not thousands of conferencing events, your conference manager will have a great understanding of your budget and exactly what can be achieved within your budget. They will be able to highlight areas where you can cut costs, as well as suggest areas where it is worth spending a bit more of your budget.
Furthermore, they will take care of paying all of the suppliers, any fees, insurances and general bookkeeping, ensuring that nothing is overlooked and every detail is attended to. Conference organisers ensure that clients don’t get caught out by any hidden fees or forget to allocate budget to often overlooked areas such as VAT and tax compliance.
Additionally, one of your conference organiser’s primary goals when creating your conferencing event will be to reduce the cost of your event whilst increasing the overall efficiency and success of your conference.
Marketing and Promotion
Any conference manager will be able to tell you that one of the biggest successes (and failures) of any conference event is how that event has been marketed and promoted. It is integral that your conferencing event reaches the right audience and desired delegates. Therefore you want to ensure that your marketing and promotion is done by a team who know what they are doing and how to best reach and connect with your target audience.
Just some of the services you can expect your conference organiser to provide for the marketing and promotion of your conference include: Website design and SEO optimisation, creating a social media strategy and content to promote, PR and media release to relevant publications, designing and producing physical marketing material.
By having your conference organiser take care of this aspect of your conference event you can rest assured that your conference will not only be well publicised but will also attract like-minded and interested individuals who will really benefit from attending. In turn, this creates an event where industry-leaders and interested parties can connect with one another. Meaning that next time you host an event they are more likely to attend as they know they can use your conference as a way of building their own industry connections.
Managing Conference Management Software
Another task that your conference expert can also do is running and managing your conference management software. Whether you need an external management system for speakers and presenters to submit and store their presentations on. Or perhaps you need assistants in the admin side of the software. This could include: sending out invitations, compiling and organising registration forms or even creating and publishing the running order to your conference event. This is yet another area where your conference organiser will be able to help.
Successful delegate management is a fundamental factor in the success of your conferencing event. Once you have attracted the right kind of delegates to your event you want to ensure the process of them attending is as smooth and enjoyable as possible. Your delegates are the people who make your event. Therefore, if they have a great time at your conference we can guarantee they will want to attend your next conference and invite their friends and colleagues too.
The delegate experience starts from the moment they hear about the event. Whether that’s through social promotions, internal company emails or targetted publications. Your conference organiser understands the importance of creating an event that is easy for your delegates to access. From registration form right through to venue selection and travel to that venue. Your conference organiser will always keep your delegates journey in mind to achieve optimal attendance.
Furthermore, on the day of your conferencing event they will be able to have a team on hand to manage delegates. Ensuring their journey through the venue is smooth, as well as making sure all delegates know where to go and the running order of the day. Successful delegate management will ultimately lead to the success of your conference event.
Reporting and Evaluation
There is no use in running a successful conference event if you can’t understand what was successful about it and how to replicate that success in the future. Your conference organiser can collect, analyse and put together reports to show your exactly how successful each element of your conference was.
Want to know how engaged your delegates were? Want to understand whether your marketing strategy reached the right audience? Perhaps you want to know what talks your delegates attended and whether they shared their experience on social channels? Your conference organiser can create all of these reports and more.
Why is this important? Well, it helps your conference committee understand exactly what your event achieved. As well as what parts of your budget worked well and what section of your budget might need to be amended for your future conferencing events.
Your conference organiser will also be able to give you their professional feedback. Suggesting improvements they would make for your next conference, as well as the successes that will be important to replicate.
One of the most overlooked and yet most valuable services your conference organiser can offer, is the on-hand problem solving. Any professional conference organiser will be able to recognise that there is not a one-strategy-fits-all model for conferencing events. Furthermore, they will be able to recognise any potential issues that may come to fruition and put plan B’s and C’s in place should they be necessary.
No matter how perfectly your event is planned more times than not there is always an issue that needs a last-minute solution. Whether that’s a keynote speaker dropping out in the last few days, the catering cancelling, the venue losing power or even the furniture hire not turning up. It is your conference organiser’s role to find solutions to all of these issues. Any conference organiser worth their salt will have plan B’s and C’s in most cases and will also be able to lean on their industry connections to help find solutions to last minute problems.
The beauty of hiring your conference organiser is that all of the stress and last-minute details will be taken care of by them. This means that you are able to focus on attending and networking at your event rather than stressing over last-minute issues.
Virtual and Hybrid Conference Management
Over the last couple of years the landscape of conferences has drastically shifted. Prior to 2020 most large scale conference events were hosted live and in-person. However, with the shift to remote working many organisations have had to shift to a virtual strategy for their conferences.
Your professional conference organiser will be able to guide you on what solutions will work well for your event. Whether that’s a fully virtual approach, a hybrid solution or in fact a more traditional in-person conference. They will also be able to suggest what virtual solutions you can use. From pre-recorded and live studio filming to live streaming, virtual break out rooms and even online entertainment.
Hiring a Professional Conference Organiser
In our above article we have highlighted just a few reasons you should book a professional conference organiser. Outlining exactly how they can benefit your conference and maximise your budget and event potential.
Any good conference organiser will pride themselves on creating innovative, creative and completely immersive conference events. Ensuring that both delegates and organiser leave the conference event feeling like they’ve attended one of the best and most smoothly run events.
Our advice- if you are considering hosting a conferencing event with over 50 delegates- hire a conference organiser professional. Not only will it make your life easier but it will also lead to the success of your event.
Want to find out more about conference events? Check out our articles “What to consider when booking your conference space“, “10 steps on how to organise a conference” and “The rise of the virtual conference“.
Furthermore, if you need to book a professional conference organiser, get in touch with our team to find out how we can help!