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Planning timetable

NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau can support you through the conference bidding and planning process and, in particular, will find the most suitable venues for your event, social programme and delegate accommodation. Our services are completely free of charge.

Before you make a start, contact our Convention Bureau team to find out how you can make best use of our free professional advice and support. We will meet with you to discuss your requirements in detail and then help ensure the success of your event. Call +44 (0)191 440 5759 or email caroline.reed@ngi.org.uk.

A good planning timetable is essential to keep those involved in the project on track. It should define key tasks and dates and highlight important deadlines. You may also wish to include areas of responsibility. Most importantly, the timetable should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis.

The timelines below are suggested as a guide only and represent the optimum planning for a conference for approximately 200 delegates. The larger, or more complex the event, the earlier your planning should begin.

Download planning timetable (pdf).

18-24 months prior to the conference:

Programme and speakers:

  • Establish objectives and theme
  • Set date

Venues:

  • Select appropriate venue(s) for the conference
  • Select venues for social programme
  • Consider accommodation providers to suit delegate budgets

Management and administration:

  • Appoint key members of organising / host committee and define roles
  • Identify staff to administer the conference OR appoint a Professional Conference Organiser (PCO) if required
  • Set up schedule of regular planning meetings

Finances:

  • Prepare first draft budget, noting cash flow - in particular, deposits due and income from sponsors, exhibitors, delegate registrations
  • Ensure VAT is included
  • Set up bank account and system for receipt of credit card and online payments
  • Consider event insurance - public liability and cancellation

Marketing:

  • Prepare marketing plan
  • Design logo and stationery
  • Set up website
  • Publish first announcement to promote the conference date, theme and venue

12-18 months prior to the conference:

Programme and speakers:

  • Develop topics and appoint keynote speakers
  • Compile ‘guidelines for speakers’

Venues:

  • Liaise with selected venues and review any new requirements
  • Select accommodation providers and block bedrooms

Management and administration:

  • Start compilation of databases of all involved: organising committee members, speakers, sponsors, potential delegates

Finances:

  • Review budget and cash flow

Sponsorship:

  • Prepare sponsorship packages
  • Contact potential sponsors

Marketing:

  • Design and distribute flyer - include topics and keynote speakers and any sponsor acknowledgements

6-12 months prior to the conference:

Programme and speakers:

  • Finalise programme and speaker list
  • Confirm speaker entitlements and distribute ‘guidelines for speakers’

Venues:

  • Review arrangements
  • Finalise accommodation allocations and room rates

Management and administration:

  • Set up system for receipt of delegate registrations and payments

Finances:

  • Review budget and set registration fees

Sponsorship:

  • Liaise with sponsors and keep them advised of key programme arrangements
  • Ensure agreed benefits are honoured

Marketing:

  • Review marketing plan

3-6 months prior to the conference:

Programme and speakers:

  • Confirm and liaise with speakers
  • Arrange speaker accommodation, travel
  • Chase speaker materials (bios, synopses / abstracts, papers etc.)
  • Request and collate speaker audio visual requirements

Venues:

  • Liaise with venues, advising any change in requirements or anticipated numbers

Management and administration:

  • Order conference bags, badges and holders / lanyards, display stands and other merchandise (allow extra time if these are to be overprinted with your conference logo)
  • Acknowledge delegate registrations and issue joining instructions
  • Note delegate special dietary, or other, requirements

Finances:

  • Review budget and cash flow

Sponsors:

  • Check that all sponsor benefits are honoured

Marketing:

  • Publish conference programme and registration form

Social programme:

  • Develop social programme - book entertainment, consider venue decoration and audio visual, shuttle buses

0-3 months prior to the conference:

RE-CONFIRM EVERYTHING!

Programme and speakers:

  • Collate and print final programme and papers
  • Appoint conference / session rapporteurs
  • Enlist volunteers as room monitors

Venues:

  • Visit all venues to confirm detail: room set-ups, signage, menu selections, décor, audio visual, stage set, timings, delivery of conference / exhibitor materials, any special staffing required (e.g. porters), access times
  • Release bedroom or meeting room space not required

Management and administration:

  • Prepare delegate badges and delegate list
  • Assemble contents of delegate bags and stationery box
  • Print tickets, invitations and menus
  • Prepare staffing schedule for attendance at the conference and define roles
  • Book photographer
  • Order Pocket Guides from the Convention Bureau

Finances:

  • Set up system for accepting payments / making refunds at the conference
  • Petty cash available for staff taxis and incidental expenses

Sponsorship:

  • Special invitations / treatment for VIP sponsors?
  • Issue venue delivery instructions for sponsor materials

Marketing:

  • Final review of marketing plan and ‘emergency’ action if delegate numbers are low
  • Press release and arrangements for press attendance at the conference

Social programme:

  • Seating plan and top table arrangements - place cards
  • Issue VIP invitations
  • Re-confirm guest speaker

At the conference:

RE-CONFIRM EVERYTHING!

  • Identify your venue contact(s) for the duration of the conference
  • Check your schedule of requirements with venue staff - on a daily basis - and highlight any changes
  • Set up registration desk in good time for early arrivals - have spare stationery, spare badges, holders and delegate bags
  • Daily briefing of conference staff (particularly volunteers) to re-define roles and highlight any changes to the programme
  • Check room set ups and AV and speaker requirements are fulfilled
  • Check signage is clear and adequate
  • Distribute delegate feedback form - offer prize draw to encourage its completion

After the conference:

  • Thank you letters to speakers, sponsors, exhibitors etc.
  • Analyse delegate feedback form
  • Prepare conference report
  • Update conference website
  • Chase outstanding payments and receipts and prepare final accounts
  • Post mortem meeting
  • Relax... and look forward to the next time!

To participate in the Conference Ambassador Programme, or to find out more, even if you don’t have a specific event in mind, please contact Caroline Reed, Conference Development Manager, T: +44 (0)191 440 5759, E: caroline.reed@ngi.org.uk.

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