Organising a Conference – Part 1

Conference hall

Conference hall (Photo credit: Jackson Lee)


Organising a conference can be a daunting and time-consuming task.  Most often the person responsible for organising the event is a PA or secretary and as such has a host of other responsibilities.  Most often they are required to organise one or two events of this nature per year and while many of them do so quite efficiently, there are some who struggle with the task.

This series of articles will try to assist those who need some guidance to complete this task.  It will cover a host of points to be considered from sourcing a conference venue to post conference feed-back.  It will cover different areas in different articles and older articles can be found by browsing the archives or searching for the articles whose titles include “Organising a Conference”.  They will also be categorised under Organising a Conference and can be found by clicking on this category on the right.

These articles have been written from a South African perspective, but are also relevant to other countries where the principles of organising a conference are the same.  More about the author can be found by clicking his Gravatar on the left.

In this week’s article we will cover budget when sourcing a conference venue.

Should readers want info or articles published on specific topics, please feel free to contact the writer and these will be considered.



There are several points to consider when sourcing a conference venue in South Africa.  This week we will cover budget.

  1. Budget

What are the venues costs and do they fit the budget allocated to the conference?  When calling for quotes from venues one should be careful that all hidden costs are taken into account.  Some points to note when calling for quotes should be: –

a)      Do the rates include or exclude VAT? Most conference venues in South Africa quote including VAT but there are a few who quote excluding VAT.  You can trip the VAT portion out to meet your company’s budget amount as this amount is normally ex VAT.

b)      Do they include equipment requirements or is this extra?  Most venues include standard equipment in their rates.  Ensure that you know what this standard equipment includes and call for rates for any additional equipment you may require.  For larger conferences you may need specialised equipment which may need to be outsourced to an outside company.

c)       In the event that delegates will require accommodation, enquire if all meals have been included or is the accommodation rate quoted simply on a bed and breakfast basis.  Some hotels quote room only rates, or bed and breakfast rates.  Ensure that you know what they are quoting you and what meals it includes.

d)      Does the Day Conference rate include all refreshments, venue hire etc.?  A Day Conference Package Rate or DCP normally includes all teas and coffees, lunch, use of the venue, use of standard equipment and VAT.  It is better to be quoted a DCP rate which includes all of this than to be quoted per tea / coffee session, lunch, room hire etc. as the chance of unexpected hidden cost arising is less.  Also a packaged rate is normally slightly less than the sum of the parts.

e)      Will rates increase before your conference?  Often a conference is organised months in advance of the date.  Ensure that the venue quotes you rates applicable to the time of year your conference will take place and not current rates which may be subject to annual increases.

f)       Do rates include Tourism Levy?  Tourism levy is a government tax levied on accommodation.  It is levied at 1% of the ACCOMMODATION portion of the rate.

g)      When delegates are staying overnight and accommodation is required, it is better to get a Fully Inclusive Rate or a 24 hour packaged rate.  This will normally include all meals, accommodation, conference room hire, standard equipment, VAT, tourism levy etc.  Some venues will quote a dinner, bed and breakfast rate and a DCP separately.  Others may quote a bed and breakfast rate and a DCP rate but may unintentionally exclude a dinner rate.  Make sure that you have budgeted for dinner for resident delegates and know exactly what you are getting for your rate.

h)      When organising a conference where delegates will pay for their own accommodation, but the organisers will arrange transport to and from the venue, one should always include at least three official hotels ranging from 5 star accommodation to 3 star accommodation so as to provide suitable accommodation to a wide range of delegates.  One should also take into account the distance of these hotels from the conference centre so as to limit transport costs.

In next week’s article we will cover the location of your chosen conference venue.  In the meantime please feel free to comment and ask questions which may not have been covered in this article.

Contributed by The Venue Pages


2 thoughts on “Organising a Conference – Part 1

  1. Pingback: Organising an Association Conference « The Venue Pages Blog

  2. Pingback: Organising a Conference – Part 2 « The Venue Pages Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s