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Top 7 Must Haves for a Successful Conference

Every year, conferences are held all around the globe for all sorts of audiences from all walks of life, hungry for new training, knowledge and networking opportunities.

But what makes for a successful conference? What must you do, as a host, to ensure your event is enjoyable, educational and memorable? As a guide, we’ve assembled the top 7 “must haves” for a successful conference. Follow these conference planning tips to the fast track toward an unforgettable event.

"Business conference" courtesy of SupportBiz on flickr

First Impressions Are Everything

If you’re a part of the business world, then you’ll know the old saying that “first impressions are everything.” When planning your event, this certainly rings true. Consider all the tiny details that will play a part in making or breaking the conference experience for attendees before they’ve started the first presentation.

Marketing, invites and promo videos are the first medium to interact with potential punters. Think about how these portray the upcoming event. Consider things like venue, music selection, catering – all these elements need to work together to “wow” your attendees.

Choose Your Venue Wisely

Aside from the aesthetic value of a venue, make sure that it’s perfectly suited to your event and ties in with the corporate values of those who you’re catering to. In particular, make sure you book a suitable sized venue – you don’t want guests to feel crowded, nor do you want guests to feel like the place is half-empty.

Research Your Speakers

When choosing your speakers, make sure you are well informed and know exactly what you want and what to expect from a speaker. Find out who is generating a lot of interest, popular speakers bring an audience in. Find out what the hot topics are so you can choose speakers who specialise in these areas. When choosing your speakers, check out any audio recordings or video footage of their presentations. Ultimately, if you do plenty of research to find the best possible fit, you’ll set yourself up for success with no disappointing surprises.

Plan Your Tech to a Tee

You’ll need to have all your audio, video and other technical equipment configured properly for the venue. Make sure your sound is high-quality and reaches everybody in the room, make sure any screens or monitors are visible everybody, and have some tech support staff in attendance to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Present Your Presenters

Don’t underestimate the importance of a good MC for the duration of the conference. Somebody with skill in public speaking and confidence in capturing a crowd’s attention will go a great length toward creating a positive and entertaining flow between presentations and workshops.

Diversify the Content

Keep in mind that everybody is different. Each guest will have different perspectives, different interests and different learning styles. If your talks and workshops throughout the conference are not varied in their style, presentation and content, then it may be very difficult to include and interest a wide range of personalities. Make sure you keep it fresh, with lots of different speakers and subjects on offer.

Encourage Involvement on Social Media

Social media is a powerful tool in marketing and networking. It will benefit you greatly to put it to use by encouraging lots of activity on social media throughout the conference. Encourage guests to network online with each other as new business contacts and encourage sharing of notes and information via mediums like Twitter and YouTube. All this online activity will generate wider interest in your event by taking advantage of each guest’s personal online network.

Enjoy Yourself!

First and foremost, don’t forget to enjoy your event. When you’re relaxed, positive and showing a genuine enjoyment in being there, your attitude will radiate throughout the rest of your event, staff and guests.

Just remember to always do your research and, when in doubt, why not call a professional? There are so many event planning organisations out there with a wealth of experience to help your create an amazing event with confidence and ease.

These seven basic steps are all you need to kick-start the most successful conference of your career. So what are you waiting for? Get started!

Best Australian Events for Summer 2012/13

It’s that time of year again, when punters come out to play, businesses showcase their best and event management companies are run off their feet. Yes, it’s summer, it’s festival season, and it’s time for all the biggest and brightest events of 2012.

Here are just a few of the best Aussie events left to see this Summer.

Australian summer events. Image courtesy of natalie_v on flickr

Tasmania Taste Festival, Hobart

Tasmania’s Taste Festival is an annual seven day event running from 28th Dec 2012 – 3rd Jan 2013. This waterfront spectacle brings a showcase of the best Tasmanian produce to the banks of the beautiful River Derwent. Everything from fruits, cheeses, beer, wine; it’s a seven day smorgasbord that’s not to be missed.

Party on the Park, Sydney

On the 7th December 2012, David Park becomes host to Sydney’s Korean Cultural event, Party on the Park, held at the Korean Cultural Office. From 6pm it’s a Korean showcase, with exhibitions, live entertainment, free food and drink, and even prizes up for grabs. It’s a free event, but be sure to book a place now and get some Korean culture into your silly season.

Lights of Lobethal, Adelaide Hills

From 9th – 31st December the town of Lobethal in the Adelaide Hills lights up the night sky with the largest community display of Christmas lights and decorations in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s an historical tradition that’s been continuing for over 60 years, and is a spectacular sight to behold.

Lighting of the Brisbane City Christmas Tree, Brisbane

At 6.45pm on the 30th November 2012, Brisbane City light their Christmas tree in King George Square for the first night of the year. What sets this tree apart is that it’s the largest solar powered Christmas tree in Australia. The Lord Mayor of Brisbane will host the event, joined by special guests who will entertain and dazzle – including a guest appearance by Santa.

Red Bull Lighthouse to Leighton, Fremantle

Starting at Phillip Point on Rottnest Island on the 15th December, the Red Bull Lighthouse to Leighton kite surfing race is the longest kite surfing race in the world. Kite surfers race through 19km of the Indian Ocean and finish at Leighton Beach in Fremantle. With masses of kites parading along the ocean against the beautiful coastal backdrops, it’s a spectacular event.

Twilight Christmas Markets, Melbourne

What better way to get your Christmas shopping done than by spending an evening in Melbourne’s Docklands, enjoying the finest local produce and goods that Melbourne has to offer for the Christmas season. There’s a huge array of gifts, foods and even entertainment, carols and Santa, to get you into the Christmas spirit. The markets will be held on the 7th, 14th and 21st December, on Harbour Esplanade.

Emma and Tom’s Christmas Run, Melbourne

If you’re looking for something a little more physical, get your friends and family along to Emma and Tom’s Christmas Run in Albert Park on the 5th December. Fundraising for Emma and Tom’s Christmas Run is a great way to give a Christmas gift to the community, with all money raised going to Australia’s only public cancer hospital, Peter Mac.

Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race

The iconic Sydney to Hobart yacht race is a 67 year old Australian sporting tradition. The race will be held from the 26th Dec – 1st Jan. Whether you’re there to see the event kick off, or to welcome the weathered sailors to the finish line, it’s an event that you should see at least once in your lifetime, and join in the celebrations of this nautical tradition.

New Year’s Eve at Sydney Harbour

New Year ’s Eve is marked by celebrations and spectacle almost everywhere around Australia, but no city puts on a display quite so spectacular as Sydney. With fireworks launched from the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and celebrations lighting up the whole harbour, parties, music and festivities flood the city all night long. Be there on the 31st of December for a night you’ll never forget.

With so many events scheduled for Summer 2012, and even more to come in 2012, it’s almost impossible to choose, but remember – there’s always next year!

Create The Incentive Event Of A Lifetime While Still Promoting Your Business

It has been proven that incentive programs dramatically increase performance. In fact, the return can be as high as four or five times that of other capital investments. Many companies achieve their objectives and improvement in performance simply by organising an incentive program. Tangible rewards, such as travel, are more motivating simply because the participant is seduced into an exciting visualisation of what is in store.

Motivate

A trip away can be extremely effective at motivating employee performance. Incentive events have long been recognised as an influential tool in achieving business objectives. Even those participants, who do not achieve their goals during an incentive event, have gone on to perform better and have learnt fair and clear lessons towards their progress. By implementing a strategic program, your team will achieve your financial goals.

Where to Go

Choose somewhere that has unique characteristics that will leave a memorable impression on the attendees. Exotic locations, hinterland hideaways or even short cruises are some of the choices you have. Engage in expressive team building exercises such as abseiling, a bridge climb or zip lining. Other activities could include world class cocktail making, golf or excursions.

Incentive Events

Incentive Events (Photo by ImagineCup)

Rewards

There are companies that specialise in corporate event gifts. Provide participants with something they would not purchase themselves, that way its value will always be associated with the incentive event they took part in. Do not reward anyone with something that is consumed quickly. It will quickly be forgotten and will leave no lasting recognition. The right award can add enormous value to your event experience.

Promote

Heavily promote your company to remind participants why they are there and also, to keep associated as a group. Have polo shirts and journals printed with the company’s logo. Other products to encourage participation and motivation include printed caps, satchels and promotional keepsakes. Design a promotional theme with banners, on food and on rewards and this constant reminder will encourage attendees to become team players. Leaders in organised activities will unknowingly stand out.

The Program

A printed program is something attendees can refer to throughout the program and will also be a reminder keepsake of the incentive event of a lifetime they have just participated in. An event management company can organise cost control, individualised attention, customise the event and travel arrangements and will negotiate with suppliers to provide the highest level of service at all times. Program managers can be provided to assist with the smooth transition and execution of events throughout the entire program.

Employees are continually looking at ways to retain and reward good staff. A properly organised program of incentive events can be the strongest motivational tool ever put in place by any company. Try to make the rewards have some personal meaning for employees. Studies have, in fact, proven that employees respond to incentive programs with increased productivity and loyalty. This is more than an event, this is a great way to promote your business and build strong relationships along the way with participants.

Top 7 Events Of The 2012 Festive Season

The festive season brings with it a chance to relax and unwind and join in the celebrations that only happen once a year. It also brings an opportunity to catch up with friends not often seen, enjoy the Christmas lights and decorations and give to those you love and those less fortunate.

Christmas Carols

Each capital city in Australia holds Christmas carols, often hosted by the Lord Mayor of that city. Many celebrities sing traditional and modern carols and a full stage show is performed by many talented dancers from all over the country. This is a truly unique family event which will leave the young ones in awe. So grab a blanket and take along a picnic and enjoy listening to Christmas carols on a balmy star studded night.

Lighting the Christmas Tree

The lights on the city’s Christmas tree are traditionally turned on on 1st December. For this event, activities catering for the children and Christmas market stalls for the adults go toward creating a spirit of Christmas atmosphere. Celebrities will often sing to herald the start of the festive season and Santa often makes a surprise visit.

Christmas Lights

Homeowners put in a mammoth effort to adorn their homes with bright lights of all kinds. Flashing rope lights, icicle lights and lights of all shapes will dazzle as you drive past a house decorated for Christmas. Many businesses and churches also partake in this traditional event. Bus tour companies organise tours of the best lights but you also go for a drive and view them yourself. Many generous homeowners allow you to walk through their grounds to get a close up view of their amazing light display.

Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights (Photo by mikeatqazam)

Christmas Parade

Many capital cities hold a Christmas parade in the lead up to Christmas. The parade consists of traditional Christmas themes, like camels with the three wise men, little drummer boys and the nativity scene. Often this parade culminates in a Christmas pantomime to keep old and young alike entertained.

Boxing Day Cricket

The Boxing Day Test is hosted in Victoria involving the Australian cricket team and an opposing national team. This tradition has been going since the 1950s.

Chinese New Year

Celebrating the start of the New Year in January, this festival represents the 12 creatures of the Chinese Zodiac. It is celebrated with lantern parades, lots of music and feasting. Gift giving is important as this marks the start of the Chinese lunisolar calendar.

New Year

There are an enormous range of activities on offer to celebrate New Year. Every major hotel will hold a New Year’s Eve function complete with dinner, drinks, dancing and sometimes fireworks. Capital cities always organise a fireworks extravaganza, usually in two time slots, so the little ones don’t miss out before their bed time! The internationally acclaimed Woodford Folk Festival is a good place to herald in the New Year, with many activities and exhibitions on offer in the lead up to New Year.

Australians enjoy Christmas and New Year when summer is at its scorching hottest. There are loads of entertainment choices from traditional and cultural events to sporting competitions. The festive season is celebrated throughout the country in a variety of unique ways. Event planning organisations meticulously make sure the holiday season is a time to be enjoyed by all.

Top 10 Helpful Tips For Incentive Group Travel

Companies have the power to change their direction by running successful incentive groups. The company will then reap the rewards of increased productivity and employee loyalty. Your team will be motivated and in turn, rewarded for meeting financial targets. There are many factors that have to be taken into account when organising a group travel program.

Budget

Take into account the number travelling in the group, fares and the type of accommodation. Also decide upon the number of inclusions to be included, such as meals, excursions and activities.

Management

Every travel incentive must be of the highest quality, and it is up to the management to ensure that happens. Onsite staff should be on hand to make every individual feel welcome. Make sure that a post program evaluation report is done.

Theme Events

Themes can be fun and keep participants interested. Choose your location and then organise a suitable theme. Event management can help with this, as they have access to the latest technology and have the ability to secure unique items. Promotional t shirts and caps can be printed for group attendees to wear.

Objectives

Determine objectives and what the company wants to achieve. Decide if this program will be educational as well. Work out what will motivate the participants. The main objective is to increase employee performance to achieve goals and strengthen relationships within the organisation.

Program Design

Print or email a program detailing daily events and what the incentive rewards will be. Prior to your travel, forward participants enticing photos and snippets of information about their destination.

Location

Locations are limitless. A short cruise, a stay overseas or interstate, whatever location is chosen, just make sure it has some unique qualities about it, so the participants will be eager to attend and will be left with a lasting impression.

Length of Time Away

Most incentive group travel lasts between 3 days and one week. Take into account how much you really need to cover.

Ideas

For groups, an action-filled weekend of bridge climbing, white water rafting or zip lining could be organised. Golf, tennis, massages or beach parties can be used to relax attendees.

Incentive Group Travel

Incentive Group Travel (Photo by Full On Adventure)

Groups or Individuals

Assess the company situation and decide whether you want to organise a group program or individual programs. For individuals, weekends away or accommodation certificates could be utilised.

Rewards

Promotional welcome gifts are always well received. A company’s dilemma is often what to give. Cash is easy but is usually a poor motivator. Cash has no defined shelf life and may be subject to tax.
Merchandise, a trophy or travel incentive is a memorable incentive that will last for years. Make sure an award structure is developed.

Travel incentives as a reward gives the company the opportunity to get to know the top achievers. You are also giving participants a memory to last a lifetime and informing them of what the company has in store for them over the next year. Travel incentive programs must be of the highest standard and well managed. To make the participants feel like they are doing something exclusive, an incentive company travel program should best be able to deliver a promotional package of outstanding quality.