Keep your conferences management simple

The organization of a conference is a long process, composed of several stages and often translates into a source of anxiety difficult to predict. An experienced organizer knows that, respecting some procedures, everything will run as expected. However, some less experienced organizers, or pressure from clients, can easily opt for deviations from the norm: a more ambitious program, a more complete dinner, a more showy book of abstracts? Some participants will notice these details, but others will not make much distinction.

We’ve included some suggestions that may avoid wasting time or unnecessary expenses – barring very specific situations:

  • Comfortable spacing between deadlines (submission, notifications of acceptance and rate escalation). Avoid setting deadlines too close. This avoids that, in case of having to postpone them, they may get too close or fall on the congress;
  • Few deadlines (abstracts, escalation of fees and notifications). Usually three dates are required prior to the event. There may be exceptional situations with scholarship applications, accommodation/travel arrangements.
  • The essential rates. In scientific meetings it is common to have a normal rate and another for students, with discounts for members of scientific societies/associations. However, it is common to split rates into several types of students and even segment the normal rate for senior or junior. Even more complex are the cases where the rates reflect variations in the package of services: dinners, lunches, workshops, accommodation, tour… Avoid this to the maximum, it only creates confusion and in no way helps the organizer to have a better organized meeting with an improved financial result. There are other logistical options to control the social program meals, workshops and tours – taxing as extra services is an option.
  • Simple conference page. It is important to ensure that the information is clear and well organized. Avoid too many homepage highlights, long texts, abusive animations, excessive colors. Avoid excessively long texts, choose to balance the information between subheadings that categorize the information into subtopics and with good spacing between the lines of the text. Dates, rates, registration form and information for submission should always be accessible. Later the focus will shift to the scientific program part. This should have a summary calendar that focuses on the sessions as a whole, only then the information will be added.
  • Social Networks. Social networks are a good solution to promote your conference. Make a short study of the networks with better visibility in the scientific area of the conference. Not all areas have the same solutions (essentially opt for Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook).
  • Paid campaigns on social networks. Here too, it is important to understand which network has the best visibility in your congress area. Before you blow a fortune promoting ads, you must understand which is the best strategy to reach the target. Ideally it is to reach the public that likes your area or consumes magazines in your area or certain geographical areas. Paying for campaigns without a solid previous evaluation can make you spend 10-20-30 times more than necessary.
  • Book of abstracts. Nowadays, the printing of abstract books is starting to be quite reduced, and organizations have often chosen to offer it in a electronic format, either through a flash drive or through the conference page, using a password. Another possibility that begins to appear is a electronic book as a downloadable format in the registration/submission area. If you choose to print, pay attention to the weight or less conventional formats that significantly increase the cost. Another common situation that increases the cost is printing near the conference date.
  • Paper book of abstracts. Most of the participants arrive at their homes without the abstract book. They get rid of them during the congress or at the hotel. You can question ahead of time or during the registration, who needs a book printed and deliver the others in a digital format. It’s more affordable and more ecological.
  • Social Program. Social programs are often a headache to manage. Expensive spaces, out of capacity, expensive caterers. The sooner you foresee all the logistical problems the better. Try to understand in the space you’ve rented who are the most skilled regular suppliers. Often the partners’ opinion is the key to minimize future problems.
  • Limited capacity. Many congresses are organized based on the capacity of the auditoriums but this is not always the real capacity of the space. Outside the auditorium participants get together to share ideas, either during the coffee-break or the panel session. Easily these spaces become small and uncomfortable in those gatherings when the auditoriums are full.
  • Space rental. The performance space is perhaps the first thing to deal with in managing a congress. The sooner the better. You’ll get the best chance for the date you want. Almost all higher education institutions and hotels rent their spaces. Make a forecast of expenditure and payment plan (reservation and subsequent payments). Establish a contract that foresees everything you will need: limitations for catering companies, booth space for sponsors, space for coffee breaks and welcome receptions, security, support and a possible cancellation of the event.
  • Travel? Delegate! The trips of the participants should be managed by themselves. Try to establish a partnership with a travel agency that will do the intermediation process, in case participants need help and post this information on the website. The same is valid for guests, send them to who better than anyone is used to dealing with the complex logistics network and ask for the bill at the end. This way you avoid waste of time, bureaucracy and problems in case of cancellation and travel delays – these companies have their own alert mechanisms and can more easily find alternatives to solve unforeseen events.
  • Accommodation? Delegate whenever you don’t know the location. As well as the travel management the accommodation should also be the responsibility of the participant however, in this one we should promote more information on the site about accommodation solutions and proximity to the venue of the event. The travel management companies can also make a contribution as intermediaries in this process, avoiding wasting time in contacts between hotel entities – especially in a location that you do not know. For the guests choose one or two better located hotels and distribute them between them. If you choose to book without intermediaries, study well the conditions of room booking and the policy of cancellations to avoid paying rooms without using them.

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