Launching a new conference for long-term success

A presentation at the New Zealand Respiratory Conference (NZRC) 2020 at Te Papa, Wellington.

While the adage “content is king” is essential to start any conference, there are many other variables that are equally important when launching or relaunching an event. Alexander John, business director of Geneva-based global event and marketing agency MCI Group, shares three important stages for event managers launching or restarting a business event.

Three steps to launch or restart a conference

It’s one thing to announce a conference, but relaunching or initiating a new conference requires extra focus. Before you start, it is important to be intentional to manage the risks and ensure a successful new event for years to come.

Goal setting

Spend some time identifying the conference objectives, high-level theme, and target audience. This step will also involve deciding whether the conference needs to make a profit or break even, determining the draft format, location, dates and target attendance numbers.

For example, if the conference is to educate policymakers on new research that requires policy changes, government officials are an important target audience. You should consider their availability when choosing the location and dates.

Market research and risk mitigation

Conducting research at the start of the process is vital to ensure the best opportunity for success. At the least, your research should focus on the following parameters.

  • Potential revenue sources and fundraising viability assessment and plan. Review feedback from the market (commercial and non-commercial) as part of planning and decision-making. This step may also lead to identifying new revenue opportunities, such as incorporating a specific theme to lead to new revenue opportunities.
  • Competitive landscape of similar events. Be aware of competing events hosted too close together and have a clear point of difference in mind when approaching partners, sponsors, and delegates.
  • Review parameters relevant to the market, such as taxation laws, labour laws, climate, health and biohazards, and socio-political influences that could have an impact on the meeting
  • Review your research and use it to finalise your budget. Using a scorecard or SWOT analysis will help determine the feasibility of the meeting.

It’s a go

Once you have enough visibility of the opportunity, it’s time to launch your meeting. Give yourself enough time to organise and deliver the event, prioritising these steps to get started.

  • Branding and identity of the meeting.
  • Project planning and scheduling, including timelines to launch and execute the conference.
  • Marketing strategy.
  • Sustainability opportunity plan.
  • Continuity and legacy of the meeting.

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