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Conference logistics including catering

Learn the logistics for before, during, and after a conference including catering, program, staff, and volunteers in this step.
A person standing on top of rows of squares, they are slotting the one remaining square into the one remaining gap.

While the planning phase involves making decisions before actually doing anything, the organizing phase is more hands-on.

It involves actually doing the tasks required to get the event happening.

This is the time when:

  • promotional materials are created and shared (we cover this in Step 1.13)
  • the program details and conference papers are prepared
  • registration procedures are established
  • speakers are invited and briefed
  • venues and times are confirmed
  • conference papers and details of accommodation and registration are dispatched to participants
  • costs are estimated and compared to budget
  • transport and accommodation requirements are confirmed
  • participants are invited and any special needs are identified

Transport materials and equipment to the venue

It’s well ahead of the conference date, so why are we already thinking about transporting materials and equipment to the venue? It’s because there are many things to consider, that need executing in advance. They need to be added to your timeline and shared with your team (Steps 1.3 and 1.4).

Before transporting materials and equipment to the venue you will need to:

  • prepare an inventory of all materials and equipment you are sending or taking to the venue
  • send a copy of the inventory to the venue
  • organize a safe and secure room for storage at the venue until materials and equipment are needed
  • number/label boxes with contents and any special conditions, e.g, contents are fragile or heavy
  • arrange transport for materials to the venue
  • check off all boxes on arrival at the venue before the conference starts
  • organize insurance, if necessary
  • take all transport documentation to the venue to enable you to track any missing boxes or equipment

Use your own staff and transport, if:

  • you have the necessary staff and vehicles to manage it.
  • the equipment is light or easily transported.

Use a courier if:

  • the equipment is too heavy or likely to be damaged, such as computers.
  • staff cannot be released from other duties to transport materials and equipment to and from the venue.

One of your first jobs, when you arrive at the venue, is to check that everything is set up as requested. We will remind you of this again in Step 1.16 ‘on the day of the conference’.

Special requirements

Standard catering and accommodation needs will have been addressed in your RFP (see Step 1.7). But don’t forget there will be delegates who have special needs. It’s important there are options available for everyone. Obtain this information via the registration process and plan ahead for what you will do if delegates do have requests.

Depending on the event there could be many types of special requests including:

  • documents in Braille or large print.
  • social requests like bringing additional guests for dinner or outings.
  • information regarding capabilities for those who are hearing impaired.

Catering

The most common requirement and the easiest to address is usually catering requirements. It’s important to include this question on your registration form (we will cover this in the next step).

You will have attendees who are vegetarian, vegan, celiac, gluten-free, or lactose intolerant, to name a few.

This information needs to be provided to the caterer well in advance and you need to understand their procedure on the day. Do you need to add something to the lanyard of these delegates so that they can obtain their food? Or will staff at the venue assist with this? How will delegates know?

What should you put on your checklist?

Take a moment and think about what you would put on a checklist to check at the venue.

  • All rooms requested are available
  • Rooms are set up as requested
  • Equipment required is in all rooms
  • Venue is clean and tidy
  • WHS induction is done
  • Contact details available for the venue manager
  • All shipped items have arrived
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Event Management for Conferences: the Basics

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