Top tips for organising an international conference, by Imago Venues
Imago Venues were asked to help organise and host the International Conference of Conversations Analysis (ICCA) at Loughborough University.
This required planning a six day international conference, for 550 delegates from 32 different countries. They shared their top tips for organising a successful international conference.
Get professional help and use the experts around you
Explore what existing contacts in the events industry you already have and see if they have experience of hosting international conferences. If you don’t have any contacts, find help from a professional events organisation.
Location is key
If you want to host an international audience, then it’s important to be accessible. Pick somewhere central that’s close to an airport, close to public transport and not far away from the motorway. Ensure there is a smooth transition to the venue and make sure there is enough parking on site.
Ask someone to help with budgeting for your event. Make sure it is clear how much budget you have, what your needs are and ask the events company for a clear breakdown of where they are planning to spend the money.
The venue must have adequate space to host conferences, workshops, exhibitors and 1-2-1 sessions. Research where similar conferences have been held previously. Previous ICCA conferences were held in venues across the world, such as the University of Copenhagen, University of Helsinki and UCLA.
Each conference is different and some can be on niche topics, so be prepared for specific requests. The organiser of the ICCA conference wanted to incorporate pre-conference workshops, which extended the event by another two and a half days. This also added extra pressure in terms of accommodation and the need for sessions to run concurrently.
Think about who your guests are and their requirements.
International conferences can see a range of delegates attending, each with a different budget. Explore if there is accessible accommodation available on site that can be used.
Dare to be different
Each person has to travel to attend a conference. At the ICCA conference, only 17% of delegates were from the UK. Imago Venues wanted to do something different to make their stay memorable. They turned traditional formal dinners into networking BBQs and served fish and chips outside, making it a party rather than a dinner.
Check the tech
Make sure that technical support is included in your package in case of any glitches. Ask the venue if rooms are fitted with equipment to display PowerPoint presentations. Remember to ask basic questions such as: “Do the meeting rooms have microphones and speakers?”
Event management is vital
Do not underestimate the value of a full event management service. While it might seem like a luxury to have, the value will pay back its cost 10-fold. Imago Venues provided a fully comprehensive service from delegate registration, administering payments, right through to signage and on-site delivery. As academics whose day job is not event management, they took the pain away from the organisers.
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