In addition to an excellent registration and delegate database system, we’ve found a few truths in managing delegates that have continually popped up as we stand in flood waters of managing a 1200-person conference.
- Develop a working schedule. Prepare a well-thought out timeline taking into consideration both the delegate and the client. In my experience (or all of our experiences), most delegates will wait until the last minute, but our job as the planner is to try to pique their hidden type A personalities out of hibernation and into gear.
- Focus on strong, honest and positive-minded communication (especially in regards to point #1). Delegates don’t know what you know so let them in on the loop. Send reminders if registration is closing or to sign up for their satellite symposia. **This is one area social media turns your communication strategy from a caterpillar into a butterfly. Even blasting small updates to attendees on Facebook or Twitter not only helps delegates feel involved, but it also keeps your inbox from filling up with the same questions over and over. (PS You’re doing something wrong and/or not enough if you are, in fact, responding to the same questions over and over. It’s not them; it’s you.)
- Implement procedures and tracking systems to enhance efficiency, follow-up and relationships. Keep extensive notes on correspondence or arrange emails in folders, whatever works for you so anyone can step in and see the status of this person or that person. (We’re a big fan of Excel spreadsheets. In fact, we hereby coin the phrase, “There’s a spreadsheet for that.”)
- Finally, utilize the old divide and conquer strategy. Especially for larger groups, determine roles and responsibilities in order to best utilize everyone’s talents and time. Or even divide up the alphabet, whatever works.
What have I left out or what have you found particularly useful?