Any large conference in South Africa, as you know, requires a lot of time and thought, patience and planning each day from breakfast through to bed-time to ensure that every aspect is covered thoroughly and that nothing is left out! For example …
- Transport Arrangements and airport transfers
- Purchasing conference bags
- Name badges
- The checking-in process at your hotel and conference/workshop registration
Invitations to a conference in South Africa should be planned and sent out many months ahead of time, especially if there are international delegates included, as delegates have to arrange their flights, their leave if necessary, what clothing to pack and what papers they might require and a host of other important issues.
We all acknowledge the usefulness of electronic means to send out invitations, it being an age of technology and efficiency and speed in everything we do is of the utmost importance so get this planning out of the way first.
Your invitations might be themed and this can add an element of fun to the planning. The following example however would be better hand made and posted, better still hand delivered by a ‘Court Jester’ (there are many actors who do this for a living) providing your event is for local folks … this theme might be something arbitrary like ‘Medieval Days vs the 21st Century’. … The welcome evening event might be set in Medieval times … décor, definitely costume, food and drink … the invitation could be made on ‘parchment’ and worded in authentic Medieval language for example, written as a rhyme and always retaining a little of the mystical theme.
More practically, electronic invitations can be prettied up with Photo Shop or the like and can be just as effective, the artists amongst you will know!
Airport transfers are sometimes a nightmare when flights are coming in at varying times. What works really well is that some of the car hire companies run a service offering what they call Disposal Vehicles. These work out more cost effective and are at your disposal, literally for the day and evening if necessary, tripping back and forth. Contact your favourite Car Hire company for more details. These companies also offer a door to door shuttle or you might have one large group arriving en-masse in which case you would contact a private bus company or tour operator.
Conference Bags and Name Badges
There are companies who handle both these aspects and make life so much easier. Simply e-mail them your logo’s and required wording and select from a wide variety of conference bags and lanyards and different styles of name badges to fit within your budget.
At large conferences, there is a very efficient electronic form of identification where delegates simply wear name badges which have been pre-programmed with necessary details, and these are bar coded for quick scanning at the registration desk at an event.
Check in at the hotel venue
Not to reduce the value of any of the above information, many conference organisers still rely on manpower, for no matter how marvellous hi-tech is, it cannot replace the personal touch and in this fast growing technological world, we should never forget that the personal touch is still essential to our comfort. We are all still human and we all still have the need for being nurtured.
The Professional Conference Organiser (PCO) or company organisers should have their own desk at the venue for registration, and personally handle this aspect, hand out conference materials, name badges and gifts while for room check in, the hotel has their own very organised system for quick check in, handing out of keys, maps of the venue where called for and possibly offer a porter for luggage.
Where the conference organiser or PCO is on site for the duration of your event, he or she or they will be your contact person or people, (it’s good to have a nanny when it’s impossible to handle everything yourself!) and these people will liaise all issues between you and the hotel’s various departments, or with outside suppliers, team builders, entertainers, photographers etc. Use them to your advantage.
I hope this article has been helpful in planning a conference. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
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