Fresh from producing a three-day international conference for RSM we’ve put together our top tips on how to organise an effective overseas conference.
A successful conference requires planning for every eventuality and ensuring delegates have every opportunity to participate, learn and network. If however you want an event that isn’t just successful but stands out from the rest, you need to give consideration to the unique touches.
Top Tips for Planning an Overseas Conference:
★ Everyone Loves A Checklist
An event abroad requires a clearly defined event scope, extra planning and a longer lead time. Make sure you’re able to plan your requirements well in advance so you have time to research, source and organise everything. Ideally give yourself 18 months before the event.
Once overseas you can’t hire something in at the last minute so you need to ensure you’ve got everything packed. Make sure your check list includes not just the obvious big things such as the lighting, styling and set but also things that you might need for last minute changes such as a printer and the simple things like pens and paperclips always come in useful. And an extra alarm clock too for the crew (naming no names!).
★ See it for yourself
When sourcing a venue overseas, think about your own experience in the UK and search for similar venues. Hotel chains will often have international standards in place. Conduct a FAM trip beforehand to visit the venue. You can’t rely on internet research, and even detailed calls/briefings with the venue manager aren’t enough. Nothing beats visiting the venue and seeing the opportunities and potential pitfalls for yourself – will delegates at the back row get the same view as those at the front? It’s not just the venue you need to explore but also the surrounding areas. Where will the lorry park, how will the guests arrive?
★ Taste it first
Whilst at the venue, make sure you arrange for a food tasting to ensure the quality of the food matches the profile of the guests. See if the venue can set up a hospitality room for the event – a place where delegates can mingle into the night.
★ Plan ahead
Book hotels and flights well in advance of the event – you don’t want to be frantically dashing around at the last minute paying over the odds. And make sure your team arrives early enough to recover from the flight and settle in. They’ll need to be fresh to oversee everything.
★ Sweating the small stuff
If the event requires a bespoke set to be planned and designed to fit a theme, then make sure it suits the venue in terms of design but also practical details too. It is going to fit in isn’t it?! Ask for detailed plans including floor, rigging and power information, and make sure you check these during your FAM trip.
★ Can you do it locally?
Check out the local suppliers such as entertainment, crew and AV. Do you really need to take all of these resources with you? A local team can be on-site and provide the security of knowing the venue, location and if required the language too, but don’t rely on your teams linguistic skills; the hire of a translator to have on hand at all times can be invaluable. Have a list of local suppliers on standby is very useful if a bit of kit has been left behind.
★ How do you get it there?
Airlines often offer deals for groups and are worth contacting before booking. In terms of getting everything required for the conference to the event; if your event is reasonably local, such as in Europe, then shipping via haulage and trucks is the most cost effective solution.
★ Powering the event
Most conference venues will provide audio and visual equipment, lighting, computer stations, television screens, and many other types of electronics, but make sure you check the power outlets. Are you able to configure all the presentations, and are the power levels the same?
★ Where is the team?
If you’re travelling with a large team, staying at the venue may not be a financial option for everyone, especially if you’re hiring a glamorous 5-star location. Make sure however that you can place them all nearby to avoid delays with the team travelling around a city they may be unfamiliar with.
Have you got a contact sheet with everyone’s details, and do they all have chargers and adaptors for their mobile phones so you can contact them when you need them? Yes, it might feel like you’re being a bit of a mum sometimes, but as all good mother’s never tire of saying; it’s better to be safe than sorry.
★ Entertaining the delegates
Catering which gives a nod to local cuisine is welcome but don’t go overboard. After a long day, delegates really want comfort food that will sustain them. Delegates often feel disappointed that there isn’t time to visit the city that the conference is held in, so see if you can arrange a simple tour.
Evolve Events team have over seventeen years’ experience in producing events. The team is headed up by Gary Peters who has been voted as one of the most influential people in the events industry, listed on Event Magazine’s Top 100 Club. Our event services including venue finding, set design, styling and build, AV and lighting, stage management and sourcing entertainment and quality catering.
If you’d like to find out more about how we can help you produce and style your event then please get in touch and we can chat through your requirements.
To get more event ideas you can visit our blog here or follow us on social media at @evolveevents.
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