So you’ve decided to host a conference, awesome! Welcome to a very big undertaking filled with lots of stressful days and nights. In the end, I promise it will be rewarding and worth it. One of the first and very important decisions you will need to make is the length of your conference. The answer is honestly based on a host of factors and should be heavily pondered, as it really has effect on so many other layers of your planning and the final product. Today, I am going to focus on what I believe are the top 3 areas you need to consider in helping you make your decision. Cost, Content, and Logistics.
Hosting a multi-day conference is definitely more expensive than a single day version. Many think they will receive all kinds of discounts for booking a vendor or venue for multiple days in a row. Though, sometimes you can get a break on pricing for certain things, you most definitely are not going to get a deal like “rent one day, get the second free.” Vendors have employees to pay and in some cases those employees start racking up lots of overtime when your conference is more than a day or two long. You need to budget and plan appropriately for the increased cost of hosting more than one day. Do your research and consider how you will aim to get more or higher dollar sponsorships to help cover the extra overhead.
I get the feeling that many think creating a multi-day conference gives the impression that your conference is super awesome and a must attend. The truth is, I have personally attended more one-day conferences that blew my mind, than 2-3-day options.
You need to take a serious look at your content and be realistic with yourself on whether you have something worth sticking around for more than one day for. Are you filling your spots with sponsors and their sales pitch or do you have genuine, insightful, motivational information to share? Additionally, if your speakers are awesome, but you have only a few . . . do not, I repeat do not extend their speaking time to create a multi-day conference. No matter how engaging your speaker, an hour and a half into their speech people just get restless and their minds wander. It would be a total bummer if your feedback from attendees looked something like this “Content was fabulous, but segments were way too long!” If in doubt, refer to the adage Quality over Quantity.
And finally, the area I spend 95% of my day, logistics. The first consideration is the availability of your preferred venue location. I highly recommend the day prior to the start of your event be reserved to make sufficient time for set up/rehearsals/etc. With that in mind, can the venue accommodate your ideal date(s)? Or would you be compromising and in turn potentially end up with a lower attendance turnout? Another consideration is the capacity and available banquet space your venue can offer. Can you effectively cover all your needs in one day or would that second day make all the difference? My final consideration in the realm of logistics is related to your attendee demographic and where you are asking them to travel. If your target is local business people, then a one-day conference will probably be the easiest commitment. Targeting to out of towners or hosting in a destination location would lend towards offering a multi-day conference. A traveler wants to ensure the conference is worth the effort and expense. Would you want to fly to Hawaii for only one day? I think not.
The takeaway here is that one day and multi day conferences can both be a success. The key is to research first and have a deep conversation with yourself (and your team) about what is realistic and most effectively meets your goals and budget. The stressful days and nights I mentioned earlier . . . well those happen no matter what, so pass the planning piece off to a professional.
Multi Day Conferences, Special Events and Fundraisers