Four ways event planners can get ready for the spring conference season

Four ways event planners can get ready for the spring conference season

If you’re like many meeting planners that work in conference and professional development event management, your peak season is the spring. During this time you’ll see many multi-day conferences, award shows, annual general meetings, etc. While the timing of these events are convenient for attendees since they occur outside of other peak seasons such as summer holidays and year-end, this also means that as a planner, you can expect things to pick up well in advance.

Part of the nature of a meeting planner is to expect the unexpected while staying organized, giving yourself plenty of lead time, and having a backup plan in place. Here are a few ways you can help stay ahead of the game throughout spring conference season.

Get your budgets approved

Depending on how many people are involved and at what level you sit within the planning process of your event, you may still be waiting for an approved budget. Coming from the not-for-profit world, this is sometimes the case. When working with volunteers on an event, remember that they are doing their due diligence and taking the time they need to closely review everything before signing off. In order to move along the budget process, explain why an approved budget is critical to the success of any event, and share this reason widely with those involved in meeting planning.

Planning an event without a budget? Read this first.

Finalize your critical paths – or, consider using a critical chain

Critical paths are important for identifying every milestone throughout the planning process, but some meeting planners find that they are not effective because timelines are unrealistic for all parties involved. The concept of a critical chain emphasizes the resources (people, equipment, physical space) required to execute project tasks, rather than task order and rigid scheduling.

That been said, continue to create and stick to your daily deliverables. This means constantly revising your to-dos for the day, week, month, etc.

Don’t forget about industry events

A crucial part of meeting planning is staying on top (or even better, ahead!) of trends. Many industry events take place during this time, so try and attend those that interest you and bring tangible benefits back to your work. Even though it may feel like a chore to attend these events when you have a million other things to do, it could be well worth it if you come away with a few new ideas or contacts. Spend some time now deciding which ones you plan to attend, put them in your schedule, and don’t bail on them.

Be conscious of burnout and know when you need a break

While deadlines are important, and you may sometimes feel the need to burn the candle at both ends, recognizing when you need time off to regroup and come back refreshed (i.e. catching up on sleep!) is just as important. Most of us reach a point every day where words start blurring together and we can no longer form full thoughts, so getting some much needed sleep, or a short vacation, will actually make your time more productive in the end.

The same can be true when looking at your events and scheduling long days for attendees. Check out Redstone Agency’s blog on achieving work-life-wellness balance at your events.

About the author:

As Director, Association Management & Consulting Services at Redstone Agency Inc., Maddy has worked with over 20 not-for-profit organizations located in Canada and the United States as well as an international association. She is focused on ensuring her clients always receive advice based on best practices and brings a wealth of knowledge in membership engagement, CMS and website platforms, systems and processes management as well as change management. A bilingual member of the team, Maddy also has expertise in providing board and volunteer support and structuring the annual financial reporting systems of many organizations. Maddy has published articles on Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation, green workplaces and taking control of workplace stress. Maddy was named a 2015 Top 40 Under 40 by the Association Forum of Chicagoland and USAE Weekly. This prestigious award recognizes 40 up-and-coming association and not-for-profit professionals who demonstrate high potential for success in leadership roles and exhibit a strong commitment to the association management profession. Maddy is also the 2014 recipient of the Donna Mary Shaw Award from the Canadian Society of Association Executives (CSAE). It is awarded to individuals in the not-for-profit sector with a passion for management and mentoring. Maddy sits on CSAE’s Young Professionals Taskforce and is currently working towards completing her CAE designation.

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