Conference and Events

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Conference, Stockholm Hall

Image courtesy of alisdair
Course Blog

Conference and Event Blog

Hello from Bali
By now you will be getting to grips with how to operate within a team environment and the importance of supporting each other to reach your goals.  I’m looking forward to catching up wit...
— hgeytenbeek 2011-03-21 07:25:08
Teams….teams…and teams
Hi guys I hope your team discussion goes well and that by next Wednesday you have a team contract or at the very least understanding about how your team is going to work. eg. how are you going to s...
— hillarypjenkins 2011-03-08 22:36:17
Site tours – Wednesday 2nd March
Hi All, We have 2 site tours this wednesday 2nd March, so please come ‘dressed to impress’.  We will start in class and then walk to our destinations.  Please come armed with...
— hgeytenbeek 2011-02-28 01:26:48

Students blogs;

A conference is a meeting of people that "confer" about a topic, while an event can encompass a festival, ceremony, celebration or convention. Wikipedia

This course will provide you with comprehensive knowledge of the conference and events industry. Read the Course guideto gain a better understanding of the requirements of the course - the learning outcomes are listed below.

Otago Polytechnic will be running this course from 2 May - 24 June 2016. If you would like to join this course, please contact HelenGeytenbeek.

Learning Objectives

1. Understand research and marketing concepts and their application in the conference and events industry

2. Evaluate and analyse research and marketing concepts in the conference and events industry

3. Understand the key concepts involved in strategic customer service, teamwork and sales knowledge within the conference and events industry

Indicative Content

Key terms and concepts of the conference and events industry

Branding image

Conference portfolio/software

Travel and accommodation requirements

Catering requirements

Themed event


Course Schedule

Following is a list of topics we will work through in this course. Each topic has a general introduction, followed by a list of activities to work through.

 Use this schedule as a way to look ahead and prepare in the course.


Image courtesy of alborzshawn

The MICE Industry

Meetings, Incentives, Convention/Conference and Exhibitions - the MICE Industry is one of the fastest-growing and most lucrative areas of the tourism industry. Unlike most tourism areas its chief activity is business rather than leisure based, it also attracts both national and international visitors and has activities that include tourists and non-tourists.

Sue Sullivan is the CINZ CEOcinz Their strategic (See CINZ strategic plan.)   So just what is Conference and Incentives New Zealand? and who are its stakeholders? 
The recent announcement that Queenstown will benefit from a new convention centre as the C&I industry in Queenstown has grown significantly since 2011. See what TNZ chief executive Sue Sullivan has to say about the economic benefit the new convention centre will bring to New Zealand and the type of visitor it will attract Comments

'Meetings' is a national annual tradeshow, that invites conference and events organisers to experience the very best that New Zealand has to offer in terms of  the conference and incentive travel industry.  On average 170 businesses showcase their destinations,venues, conference products and services.  The tradeshow will be held this year on 15-16 June at ASB Showground, Auckland.

‎Conventions - a gathering of people for a meeting, that have a common interest or purpose

Incentive travel - travel offered as a reward for excellent performance or as a reward for meeting targets

Symposium - an educational meeting or conference where individuals share ideas and discuss thoughts

Business Tools

First up lets consider a glossary of terms for the industry. Activity. Now lets move onto the use of analytical tools such as a SWOT to assist with the strategic planning for the conference and events industry. What are the strengths and weaknesses and what opportunities and threats does the industry face?

SWOT analysis an acronym for Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threats and is often used when specifying objective/s for business ventures or projects and identifying the internal and external factors that are favourable and unfavourable to achieving these objective/s.

For example the popularity of conference destinations is often judged by their strengths/weaknesses:

  • how safe a destination is it?
  • how politically stable?
  • is it an appropriate destination for business conferences?
  • what about the infrastructure?
  • ancillary services?

Opportunities and challenges are influenced by:

  • rapid growth and development of the industry
  • coordination of activities?
  • quality of service
  • strategic collaboration
  • cooperation between industry and government agencies
  • data, information and technology

Apart from location, price/value for money, quality of service are the next most important factor highlighting the importance of retaining service levels even when costs are under pressure.

Try a SWOT analysis out on the following conference destinations.

Leadership team work

Leaders exhibit a unique blend of charisma, vision and character traits that attract people to follow them. Leadership is about vision, passion, effectiveness and building relationships where there is a "mutual respect". Your group leaders main task will be to create an environment that allows the momentum required for your conferece plans to build." The group leader will liaise directly with the client.

Your manager on the other hand will be more concerned with resources, structure, process and efficiency. As the leader's assistant, the manager will work with the leader to delegate tasks to members of the team. He/she will carry out administrative tasks for the leader and liaise between the leader and team members.

This section and the one below will be helpful when you come to completing the conference assessment.

Team work

tips for creating a good team

Staff otherwise known as human resources

Meetings Formal agendas and minutes are an important part of having an effective meeting. These record what has been said and who is responsible for getting the tasks completed.



evernote tutorial

Use online communication such as IRC or slack can assist with meetings.

Stakeholders - definition;

 A person, group or organisation who affects or can be affected by an organisations actions.

One who has a share or an interest in that organisation;





Image courtesy of Discover dupage
If we were to look at the running of a conference or event some of the questions which would need to be asked would be:

Who are the industry stakeholders? What types of conferences or events are held? Who holds and plans these events? Who is involved in the organisation of them?

Lets take a look at key stakeholders and the role they play as suppliers for events in Dunedin.

"The Dunedin City Council is committed to supporting a vibrant events environment in Dunedin that will continue to build a sense of community, enhance the city’s unique identity and add to its cultural wealth. It also aims to optimise the contribution of festivals and events to the city’s economic development.

Each year the Dunedin City Council supports over 50 festivals and events through the Annual Plan and Community Grants Scheme and spends between $1.00 million and $1.49 million, or around 1.5% of its total operational and staff budget, on events and festivals funding. This funding comes from general rates. For 2013/14 the Council has established an Events attraction Fund of $440.000 to attract big events to the city. Dunedin


The benefits of holding business events falls beyond the social legacies and tourism benefits. There are positive outcomes for delegates, sponsors, exhibitors and the destinations in which the conferences and events are held.

Coordinated Approach

Stakeholders involved in the successful running of an event, festival, conference or convention could include the following:

It may be easier to think of them in a more visual form before you complete the following activity stakeholders.


Sponsorship has been described as the payment of money by a business to an organisation for the purpose of promoting the business name, products or services. It is part of a business’s general promotional expenditure. It can include an element of community involvement or social responsibility.

There are other terms which can be used; patronage, sponsorship in kind, donation or corporate membership. In the end however it is about promoting your business by promoting others.

Budget Part of any bid for a conference is the creation of a budget. This will take into account the total cost and total income of the conference.

Conference bag: The goody bag. Contains objects of value often from sponsers and those involved with the conference. May contain items:

  • free eBooks or discount vouchers.
  • Stickers, bookmarks.
  • Branded power banks and other eletronic devices.
  • Clothing - tshirts, hats.
  • Toys and collectables.

Venue Selection

A Conference venue has paramount significance in the successful delivery of any corporate event. Choice of venue will influence the image of a corporation house may have in the eyes of public. Finding conference venues, domestically, nationally and internationally is not difficult - the difficulty is finding a venue which matches all of your requirements.

New Zealand has facilities for every event size and style according to CINZ Events Planner Guide. From a multi-day conference for 10,000 to a private boardroom meeting. These facilities are supported by the experience of accredited Professional Conference Orgainsers (PCOs) and Destination Management Companies (DMCs).

Venue Faciltities

What facilities does a venue require? Or should the question really be "What facilities do you require of a venue?" and what are you willing to compromise for the right destination. Look at the range starting large to medium/small.

What of other features not always mentioned for example air conditioning, most venues have this ready for use anyway but some may not so its always worth asking just in case. Then, is there natural daylight in the room? Nobody likes being in a conference where there is no daylight, they will feel as if they’re boxed in and then their input into the conference diminishes. Does the conference area offer any break-out areas or rooms? This is especially important if the conference is a long one. You need to be able to offer your attendees the chance of a break to get fresh air and a break out room is a great place for snacks and refreshments.

You will need to think about the following when booking rooms for any conference capacity of the room and how many rooms you need

Layout – what furniture will you need in each room? Will you need the porters to rearrange furniture before/between sessions? If so, they will need to be informed of delegate numbers and format (theatre/classroom/cabaret). Do you need a separate room or area for refreshments/poster display room? You will need to position it nearby

Do you need any set up time for the conference? If so, you will need to book out the rooms for additional time

You should have a list of all the technical/AV equipment you will require for the conference (computers/projectors/screens/flipcharts, microphones and PA system, etc.) Does the venue have all the equipment you need for your conference or will you need to order this separately? Will someone be available to show you how to operate the equipment? If you need to order it separately is there a cost involved?

Using this Conference Planner and in particular the venue capacity index to complete this activity.

Unique Venues

What makes a destination unique:

  • entertainment
  • land (flora fauna), different types of landscape
  • culture
  • people
  • cuisine
  • history

So within those destinations what provides a venue with a point of difference? Something unforgettable, unique to the destination; vineyard, off shore island, historic theatre, heritage building, famous stadium, art galleries and museums.

Planning a Conference

XIVInternational Conference

Image courtesy of SAS-2009 Oxford
Planning a conference takes a great deal of time, care and patience. In some cases; annual conferences, when one is completed the planning for the next one begins immediately. Project or planning teams may have been together for several years or just formed in the past few months.

Ingredients for a successful conference include; the identification of an approporiate venue and accommodation facilities, clarification of the catering requirements and the design and administration of all tasks required by the client.

The use of planning techniques are essential if the you as the conference organiser are to ensure the coordination of suppliers and stakeholders:

  • identify the tasks to be undertaken
  • establish the appropriate timeframes
  • source who is to undertake each task, by when and to what standard
  • coordinate all activities

So lets take a look at the task. Then you can start brainstorming on the sections/information that is missing or is uncompleted. This checklist may help your planning.


So, what is a brand and what is branding?

A brand is your corporate identity. It should tell your customers who you are, what you do and how you do it. A logo is not your brand, but supports your brand by providing a recognisable symbol for your company once your brand is established....we all know what the golden arches of McDonalds stand for!

Lets look at some examples of branding - the Accor hotel's brand/logo is easily recognisable. What about New Zealands.

How do I create a brand? The National Cycleway Project has created its own brand. Read through this to see how it evolved.

Your first assessment is centred around the design of your own brand. Plan this carefully remembering it is an intregal part of your marketing and business focus

To help you with this we need to look as some of the basics on which a company is formed. Firstly creating a "Mission Statement". A mission statement addresses the purpose of a business. It should answer - who are your customers, and why do we exist? It will vary depending on your type of business. Some businesses ask for input into the design of the statement from their stakeholders, others employ consultants to write it. Otago Polytechnic has a mission statement outlining its committment to sustainability.

Vision statement: this focuses on where the business is going. A vision statement should inspire, challenge and help employees to achieve the mission statement.

Tourism New Zealand has both a mission and vision statement


Building a website from scratch is doable but it's posible to use a conference managment system such as Zookeepr. The website could assist with:

Calls of interest - looking for organizers/volunteers/speakers etc..

Speakers - bios, video of another talk, name/summery of talk.

Register - Range of tier (volunteer, student, normal, gold) payment options. Contact information.

News - Announcments such as keynote speaker, information on the day (wifi information).

Contact - Pictures and contact information information.

Having a great internal managment system helps the conference progress smoothly.

Catering Requirements

Ode to a Haggis

Image courtesy of mccheek

Design a themed dinner as per your client's instructions. Listen carefully to their requirements and see if you can link the theme with the culture of the company; e.g. Scottish heritage, the evening could include a haggis ceremony. Here are some web sites with ideas for dinners themes and a UK site.

It would be wise to present the company with a couple of theme options, showing an outline of the costings. Chose a venue that will accommodate a large group, it could be in the same place as the conference or close by, consider travel arrangements.

Decorations, props and equipment need to be sourced and there are a number of very good local hire companies available, it would be a good idea to get quotes and compare prices. Do you require the delegates and staff to wear costumes this would need to be detailed as part of the pre-conference information. The type of entertainment/activities for the evening would depend on the demographics of the delegates and there are many options available; e.g band, DJ, comedian, ensemble.

Activity - Make the last meal an Event (open to the public)


  • overview of themed dinner (set up table and take a photo)
  • Duties (who is doing what) waiting staff - how many, dress code (photo)
  • sponsorship - material (resources)
  • Entertainment - Showcase Dunedin eg. slideshow

Students: must complete this (winning team gets certificate)

Banquet Event Order

This is an agreement form that details selections for food and beverage, audio/visual, room set ups, staffing requirements and other needs. It confirms full costs including G.S.T and dates associated with full payments.

The BEO is a guide for the manager/organiser on the day of the event. This is a written back-up plan if one of the event managers is unable to attend. It specifically lays out every detail, step-by-step for the person to follow.

The BEO lists:

  • The times of the event
  • The schedule including setup and breakdown
  • The Client’s contact information
  • The event planner’s contact information
  • How the Truck should be loaded ( if this is necessary)
  • All items that are needed at the event
  • A map of the event layout, tables, chairs, buffet etc
  • The time the hire co., entertainment etc, are scheduled to drop-off and pick-up, their contact details and exactly what they are bringing
  • A list of the food items to be served and how and when they should be set up

Everything one would need to know about the event from the floral arrangements, to the tenting, to the food is written in detail on the sheet.

The BEO cannot really be put together until the end of the planning stage, and even then there will be last minute changes.


This course is used in the following programmes

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