Hamilton Communications: Conventions & Business Meetings
Conventions are designed to bring people from several companies and/or cities together for a common purpose. Conventions are organized for industries, professions, even for companies. A good convention combines a good location and facilities, with a good mix of people and a combination of professional and recreational events. Every successful convention requires solid planning beforehand.
When planning a convention, begin with the planned scope. Look at the desired goals, and how many people you will host, and from what geographic area.
Convention location is very important for large national or international events. A lot of Canadian companies and organizations regularly alternate which end of the country their conventions are held in - one year they're in Calgary, the next year they're in Toronto.
You need to review the hotel and convention facilities at the destination. Consider the number of hotel rooms needed before, during and after the convention? Consider the quality of hotel and the location. Is a four-star hotel appropriate; should you be downtown or near the airport?
The size convention affects the choice of venue. Most hotel meeting rooms/ballrooms only hold 400 people. For larger groups, a specialized facility should be considered. Often, larger hotels have capacity for one thousand, and a municipality-run Convention Centre which can hold several thousand delegates.
There are secondary considerations for the convention/venue: Catering, audio-visual equipment, computer networking can also be deciding factors. You also need to evaluate the total cost of the location: is it competitive and within the company's means? When planning a convention a year or more ahead of time, hotels often cannot not give a firm price quote, but will quote current costs, and provide an expected (inflationary) increase by the scheduled convention date.
A good convention is usually more than a series of meetings. A memorable convention memorable requires local tours and entertainment (for attendees and for spouses), as well as stimulating speakers and panels. The local Convention Bureau can track down speakers on a variety of topics, from special interests right up to keynote addresses, and can also help find local entertainers, from choral singers to jazz bands.
Tours and off-site events can be as well. Transportation arrangements need to planned for such events. Locales like the Zoo or Heritage Park may be only a ten or twenty minute drive from downtown, but efficiently getting 200 delegates there takes effort.
It is usually necessary to plan events for spouses, companions or children of convention delegates. It keeps them occupied during the business meetings, do avoid distractions for the attendees.
Large companies usually have permanent organizers to organize conventions and meetings. These people who are experienced in all convention details. If a company does not have a "meeting planner", these skills can be outsourced.