Most organisations have a staff conference on a regular basis, whether it is a simple one-day event in their home city or a lavish multi-day event out of town.
Whatever form the staff conference takes, it can seem quite overwhelming at the outset when you’re planning one.
Here at Corporate Challenge Events, we are regularly contacted by organisations seeking guidance on how to plan a staff conference from our experience as a professional conference organiser.
To help you get started, we have compiled 10 important questions you should work through when event planning your staff conference.
It will help you know what you need to do and what support you will need to source both internally and externally.
I can assure you that if you give yourself adequate planning time and work your way through these questions, the project won’t seem so overwhelming.
1. What are your conference objectives?
Why does your company want to stage the staff conference? Defining your conference objectives at the beginning will give your planning the direction it needs and help you answer the next nine questions.
2. What are your likely delegate numbers and their background?
How many staff is the conference for? Where are they based? What is the profile of the group such as age, gender and interests? And, do you wish to have a social component of the conference with partners invited? These answers will impact on most of the following questions.
3. What is your budget?
When you get started in the planning of events, it is imperative to know what the budget is which will require a conversation with your boss or finance manager. The budget will determine whether you need to seek sponsorship or contra support for some elements of the conference, and if staff may need to pay for some optional extras.
4. What dates do you want to stage it?
Make sure you consult with all areas of the business to ensure any proposed dates do not pose significant clashes. You may also need to consider the availability of your preferred venues, the weather, how many days are needed for the conference agenda, the budget, and dates of public holidays, religious and cultural celebrations and other major events in your industry.
5. What city do you want to have it?
Where your staff are located, your budget and your conference objectives will help you work this out. If one of your objectives is to acknowledge staff for a great year, you may consider a conference in a fun and leisure-focused destination.
6. What do you want in the conference agenda?
Go back to the conference objectives here. This will also require consultation with the company boss and other heads on the theme of the conference and what topics need to be covered. A good staff conference agenda will typically feature an address from the company leader about the vision and values. You should also consider guest speakers on your topics, fun outdoor team building activities, break-out workshops for corporate training, social functions and entertainment.
7. What venues do you need?
Your preliminary conference agenda, delegate numbers, city and budget will be a good starting point to identify suitable venues. This will give you an idea on what space, facilities, room set-ups and technology are required, plus what venues also meet your needs for accommodation and group activities.
8. What transportation is required?
This will include the transportation of your staff to the city or town of the conference plus any transfers to and from airports, conference venues, accommodation and group activities.
9. What catering is required?
There can be a number of variables with catering. How many days is the conference for? What is the theme? What packages can the venue and accommodation provide for meals? Do any of your delegates have any special dietary requirements? And, what level of extravagance does your budget allow?
10. What information do you need to collect and communicate?
Any corporate event will require the collection of information from delegates whether it’s as simple as an RSVP. However, your staff conference will likely require more delegate data. That is where an online registration system can be very effective, especially in compiling RSVPs, transportation, dietary requirements, feedback to help you finalise the conference agenda and financial transactions. Some registration systems will also come with website templates to enable you to customise a platform to communicate important information to your delegates.
Kathryn Laslett, Conference & Events, Corporate Challenge Events