It’s almost time to pack up the beach supplies and summer vacay clothes. If you’re like many other businesses, you’ve been enjoying the warm weather, complete with company picnics and summer celebrations, and are starting to shift your focus toward the fall.
Companies across industries use the fall conference season to learn new skills or tips, generate new business, and strengthen relationships with other businesses.
Peak professional conference months are August through October and, ideally, you should give yourself a lead time of 10-12 months to begin planning, whether you’re hosting the conference or just attending.. But, don’t worry! If fall conference planning hasn’t been on the top of your list this year, you still have time.
Here are some of our tried-and-true tips that will help you knock out planning items to achieve another successful and enjoyable conference.
Research and set goals
What is your desired outcome from the conference? Perhaps your company needs to increase brand awareness overall or wants to gain some new contacts. Many organizations use conference season to promote new services and product launches.
Knowing what you hope to accomplish will help you fill your fall calendar with relevant conferences that will best help you achieve your goals. Fall professional conferences attract people from so many industries, and knowing your niche saves you time and energy in the long run. Doing your research beforehand on the conference saves you time by providing insights on what other kinds of businesses will attend and guaranteeing that the conference subject matter will actually be of value to your specific organization.
Put together committees that will help you to detail company objectives and make a plan to meet them. Committees can compile information about the conferences themselves and vote on the most relevant ones to attend, come up with budgets and maintain them, and even assist with travel plans if the conference requires it.
Order your merchandise early
It’s essential to show professionalism and individuality to stand out from the crowd. Showcasing clear, memorable branding at fall events results in the biggest return on investment (ROI) for your organization. When potential customers can clearly identify and learn about your brand, you are more likely to leave the conference with leads, customers, and new relationships.
Giving away freebies has long been an effective strategy for conferences. Create some swag boxes that include a combination of different items that future clients and business partners will appreciate or find useful.
To put together an effective swag box, consider the following:
- Include some branded tech that people are likely to use at the conference or on a regular basis. Bluetooth speakers, storage, mouse pads, charging cords, and screen protectors are practical and get frequent use
- Wearable items, like T-shirts of all sizes, make your brand identity go further
- Make sure your logo, colors, and branding are consistent on all items. Include your contact information and QR codes for ease of access
After outlining your goals, putting together branded merchandise options should be the next first fall conference planning objectives that you tackle. Order what you need early so you don’t run into any shortages.
Prepare for remote conferences when necessary
Reimagine what you’ve known about conferences because, as we know, they’re rapidly evolving. Now, conferences are often a hybrid setting between digital and traditional, in-person events. Other times, they’re completely virtual.
The pandemic taught us a lot about how much we can accomplish remotely and many have grown accustomed to working and attending events this way. Nearly 80% of employees today regularly use video conferencing for remote work.
Networking in a digital space can be challenging and requires you to be extra intentional with your interactions. Increase your networking capacity by exchanging information with other attendees and setting up group chats to ensure that you can participate in meaningful conversations to make connections. Maximize your employee’s engagement with the event by holding sessions during or after the event to discuss helpful takeaways.
When it comes to the hybrid conference climate, adaptability is key. Be sure to compile tech setup that you are satisfied with so that you and other employees are prepared if the conference switches to virtual before the date.
Coordinate your teams and approach
Being on the same page as your team is important. Create an itinerary for the day or weekend to share with the team. If the event is in-person, scout the host city for the event so that you can figure out what locations or sights would be most suitable and your employees can experience as a group.
Networking with others may not fall easily within everyone’s comfort zone. Setting aside time with the team to map out networking strategies prepares all event-goers to effectively communicate and convert new business at the conference.
Leading up to the conference, run through your checklist:
- Set deadlines for event deposits, registration and tickets, and other important details
- Meet with your Information Technology (IT) team to ensure you are equipped with the tech gear you need
- If traveling for the conference, research hotel group rates and outline travel plans
- Create “what to bring” lists so everyone packs the items they’ll need for success
Appoint team leads to spearhead different parts of the planning process so that no details are missed.
Align expectations and remain in good spirits
The best way to ensure that you leave a lasting impression on fellow conference-goers is to have a solid team approach so your organization presents themselves in a positive light. Share goals and event expectations with all representatives from your organization.
Conferences are fun and exciting – but they can also be hectic. Travel, if applicable, can be draining, especially across time zones. The events usually involve plenty of mixers or meet-and-greets between sessions, and might involve late nights and early mornings. Use open communication, check-ins, and planning meetings to prepare yourself and your company for the event so that everyone remains flexible and in good spirits.
Gear up for conference season
When they go smoothly, conferences can be truly inspiring for your team and organization overall. With these prep tips in mind, you can create a lasting impression for your brand in the minds of the people you meet while fostering new leads.
Need more conference merch ideas to take with your team? Check out our list of best-selling promotional items here.