Step-by-step checklist for successful conference planning

Organising a professional conference from day one can be stressful, especially for first timers, as the entire process requires plenty of data gathering, not losing the sight of what the most important aspects of conference planning are, and in some cases, remaining as cool as a cucumber when making decisions.

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Commence the early stages of planning from 6 to 8 months prior to the conference

Book your preferred conference venue first – ideally, 6 months prior the event. The timing will depend greatly on the distance the attendees are required to travel, length of the event, and potential collision with other large scale or regional events. Make sure you do the research on potential limits that may increase the no-show rate.

Scheduling arrangements do not only apply to the speakers and attendees, but tight timeframes are the hallmark of the most sought-after catering and event planning companies. Our catering services need to be secured weeks in advance, with the decisive menus to be finalised later on.

Quick pro tips for choosing the right date for your conference:

  • No obvious holiday periods – not only are the flights for overseas speakers more expensive, but due to the more family-centred nature of popular holidays, people tend to skip conferences during Christmas or Easter time. Avoid bank holidays as well (look into other national bank holidays, if you are expecting international attendees).
  • No weekend conferencing – unless it’s a company’s internal conference merged with training sessions, conference means work and hereby should take place over the working week. Hosting the event on a Thursday or Friday gives them the chance to stay over and become a tourist for a weekend, if it’s a countryside getaway, or an international conference with many attendees flying over.

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Crucial aspects to consider for a successful conference venue booking

Finding the right conference venue may seem like a daunting task, but all becomes clear once you look at the types of venues that are commonly considered standard conferencing options:

Hotel conference venues – work great for countryside weekend training days, presentations and internal conferencing. Additional aspects to consider would be transportation from and to the airport, and the budget for allocating all guests to stay over at the hotel at the company’s cost.

Conferencing centres – provide simplicity and often with basic day delegate packages.

Unique event venues and historic halls – are memorable and visually striking (which is the whole purpose of planning a great eventJ) and securing one definitely shows that you are forward thinking and that quality is important to you. These are great for thinking outside the box and ensuring your attendees experience something different.

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Location of your conference venue

Whether you’re looking for a picturesque venue or a modern exhibition centre, here is a list of questions you should address as an organiser:

What conference facilities will be at your disposal? – before the final contract is signed, make sure suitable audio-visual equipment and technical support will be available for your event to use. These include: Wi-Fi access (it is crucial the network will be able to handle all your attendees connected simultaneously), professional cordless microphones for the speakers, a projector and screen if required.

Furniture and styling items hire – event halls that are commonly hired for conferences, presentations and training sessions typically do provide on-site table and conference chair hire. We encourage you to double check this with your venue or event co-ordinator.

Transportation and parking – maximise the conference attendance and consider the easiness of arrival at the venue for guests travelling either by air or rail. By the same token, consider suitable parking for attendees who decide to drive by car.

Scalability – most event halls offer a versatile range of function rooms so that both large scale corporate events and small groups of delegates can be catered for. Make sure the size of the conference room you hire is adequate for the number of attendees. Industry tip – you do not want to overbook and have half of the room empty, or quite the contrary, you don’t want to book a small room for dozens of delegates and look like you’re on a tight budget.

Branding – consider the suitability of the venue to be able to complement your branding efforts. It depends greatly on the brand image you want to project to your audience. The project should also be of interest to potential conference sponsors.

Nearby landmarks and recreational facilities – leisure facilities increase the attractiveness of the location.

Catering – We are lucky enough to work closely with four award winning catering companies, which offer the organiser and delegates different levels of catering service.

KUDOS Delivered – KUDOS Delivered is one of London’s most creative caterers providing bespoke corporate catering solutions tailored to your tastes and any kind of occasion. They provide special event catering and daily food deliveries including breakfast, working lunches, canapé receptions and buffet food.

KUDOS – Our in house catering experts operating within prestigious venues. KUDOS prides itself on offering creative conferencing solutions throughout its entire venue portfolio. Prestigious winners of best food and beverage suppliers and best conferencing and events staff as awarded by M&IT you couldn’t be in better hands.

Seasoned – Offers innovative food, on trend menus and artistic presentation at London’s best venues. The British Museum, the Science Museum and Guildhall are a sample selection of our venue partners. Seasoned works with venues with no catering facilities on site and trust them to deliver seamless events within these stunning venues.

Either way, your responsibility will be deciding on a menu and properly addressing any special dietary requirements that may arise from guests or your employees. For international guests, consider preferences of other nations – introducing your country’s cuisine may seem like an enticing idea, but you should take it into account that it might not be for everyone’s taste, so always include a standard dish that is hard to turn down by anyone.

Additional elements that will incur extra costs include: entertainment and leisure activities for the attendees, providing accommodation for the speakers, additional hire of venue styling and theming items, and prizes – if any are to be awarded.

All these aspects are easier to account for once you estimate what your conference budget is. Setting costs for marketing and venue hire, catering or guest accommodation, will all be a much simpler process once you have an overall budget in mind.

Read more: How to find a perfect conference venue for your event?

Got any questions? Our venue hire experts would love to talk to you about your next event and would be delighted to help secure the perfect venue for you.

Contact our friendly event planners at 0207 334 3922 or

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