If this is your first time hosting a leadership conference, you may be nervous about all the decisions that need to be made. However, all decisions can be made based on a single underlining idea. The conference needs to provide as much value to the attendees as you possibly can. You want those who attend the conference to leave feeling like they had a life-changing experience that was high-energy and fun. You want them to go home bragging about the events, speakers, food, and accommodations.
Choose a location that is easily accessible and has attractive accommodations within walking distance. If people are going to travel to a different city to attend your leadership conference, they are going to want to be within close range to restaurants, bars, and stores. Even if you are providing meals as part of the conference, people like to know they have options before booking a trip. When choosing a city, you need to keep travel costs in mind. Are there airports nearby that offer reasonable airfares with plenty of options? If the location of the conference is not easy to get to, people will be deterred from attending.
Choose a date that is not too close to a major holiday or holiday weekend. If the dates for your conference conflict with other significant events, you are going to have a smaller turnout. You also want to take weather and location into consideration. Depending on what city the conference is going to be in, you want to pick a time of year that typically has beautiful weather. Before choosing a date, you also want to make sure there aren’t any major city festivals or events happening at the same time.
Line up speakers that will draw people into the conference. For example, Mark Wiseman is a well-known global investment manager and business executive. He has years of experience, he’s been interviewed by many of the major financial publications, and he is considered an authority within the investment industry. He is the kind of speaker that would attract people interested in just hearing him speak. You need someone like Wiseman, whose name carries weight. Ideally, you will have multiple speakers, but at least one primary speaker. Having at least one big-name speaker will help sell out your event quickly.
4. Food and drink
People remember the food and drink served at conferences. They will certainly refer back to what was served when talking to others about whether they should consider attending future conferences. Once you choose a location, contact the local liquor store, caterers, and vendors to get prices and options, so you can create a menu for the conference and sign necessary contracts. If food and drinks are part of the registration fee, you want to make sure attendees feel like they are getting their money’s worth. For multiple-day conferences, there is typically a formal dinner one of the nights that will include alcohol. You may also plan a more casual dinner and dance on the second night if there is one. While not everyone drinks, you want to make alcohol available at the evening events. It adds to the perceived value of the conference tickets.
Often, conferences are hosted at hotels so participants don’t have to leave the property. The second option is to host the conference at a convention center that is close to hotels. When arranging accommodations for your attendees, it is essential to remember that you want them to have a quality experience and return for future conferences. If you are not having the conference at a hotel that can accommodate all of your attendees, you need to find alternative options by taking into consideration the neighborhood, public transportation, and parking. The easier it is for attendees to get from their hotel to the conference, the happier they will be overall.