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Conference Management 101: A Complete Guide

Conference Management 101: A Complete Guide

Definition of MICE

Definition of MICE

MICE is a commonly used acronym standing for ‘Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions’, each playing an integral part in the wider Tourism and Hospitality industries.

Consisting of participants, sponsors, planners, committee members, suppliers, venues, accommodations and more, the MICE industry is quite large and profitable, grossing millions globally every year.

Meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions can be organized to achieve a variety of business, political, cultural or academic purposes but the goal is commonly to grow businesses, increase awareness and visibility, foster relations and ultimately generate profit.

Types of Events

Types of Events

  • Conferences

    A conference is a formal event that usually takes place over several days and mostly occurs on annual basis. Conferences gather people of common interests and are typically organized for business, academic or political purposes.
  • Conventions

    Conventions are large-scale events organized in attractive locations for a variety of purposes, usually based upon a certain industry, profession, or fandom. Conventions can be informal on occasions, highly interactive and open to the public.
  • Congresses

    Featuring a number of talks and sessions, congresses gather notable figures and industry professionals to discuss as well as share knowledge and expertise pertaining a certain field. Similar to conferences and conventions, a congress would typically be organized on annual basis.
  • Forums

    Forums are interactive events where participants and experts debate certain topics or issues, usually of high importance and relevance to the public such as current news, politics, the economy, academic and scientific advancements etc.
  • Summits

    Summits are held by political figures to discuss topics and issues of importance and relevance to the public. Though are usually televised and covered intensively by the media, summits are closed to the public and are by invitation only.
  • Exhibitions and Trade Shows

    Exhibitions and trade shows are large-scale events - usually taking place over several days - where established brands, Small and Medium-sized businesses (SMEs) as well as aspiring entrepreneurs participate through purchasing booths to display and promote their products or services as well as network with other professionals and foster business relationships. Exhibitions and tradeshows are typically accompanied with talks, workshops and other sessions within their duration.
  • Seminars and Symposiums

    Seminars are educational events delivered by one or more experts and are usually held for training purposes. Seminars are semi-formal and interactive to a certain degree, where participants can ask questions within the sphere of the subject-matter. Seminars can discuss corporate or academic topics and are normally organized for a specific segment of participants, i.e. company staff, senior students etcÖ Seminars become symposiums when the number of participants increases from a defined group to a few hundreds. Symposiums are more formal than seminars and due to their larger nature, interactivity is restricted to a limited number of questions by a few participants.
  • Workshops

    Workshops are small-scale sessions with a limited number of participants, receiving hands-on training by an invited expert. The subject of workshops varies; they can be put together for the development of defined groups with certain skills or techniques.
  • Product Launches

    Product launches are critical for a new product to make a successful market entry. Product launches generate a lot of buzz, can be extravagant with creative themes and graced with the attendance of important figures such as celebrities, influencers and media personnel.
  • Board Meetings and Shareholder Meetings

    Board meetings and shareholder meeting are common occurrences especially for publicly listed companies. Board meetings gather board members to review business performance and make important decisions or changes where necessary. Shareholder meetings, on the other hand, provide companies the opportunity to share updates about current company performance, targets, future goals, and business strategies with its shareholders. Depending on the amount of work and projects at hand, these meetings can be held on annual, bi-annual, or even quarterly basis.
  • Executive Retreats and Incentive Programs

    Executive retreats and incentive programs are often held at luxurious locations to discuss business development and organizational planning but ultimately, for all involved to have an enjoyable time. These trips and retreats typically last between 3 and 5 days and require careful planning and selection in terms of locations, accommodations, transportation, catering and more.
  • Appreciation Events

    Appreciation events are organized in a non-formal setting and can either be geared towards employee appreciation or client appreciation.
  • Company or Organization Milestones

    Company milestone events are put together to celebrate reaching a certain goal, a special anniversary, completing a demanding project or any significant milestone worth celebrating. Company milestone events vary in scale; they could be a small celebratory occasion for management and staff only or organized on a larger scale, where important industry figures are invited and media coverage is targeted.
  • Team Building Events

    Team building events are organized to increase and uplift team spirit and morale. They provide an opportunity for employees to spend time together sharing stories and partaking in activities in an informal, outdoor setting.

Definition of a Conference

Definition of a Conference

A conference is a formal event that usually takes place over several days and mostly occurs on annual basis. Conferences gather people of common interests and are typically organized for business, academic or political purposes. Difference between Conference and Convention A conference is a formal event that usually takes place over several days and mostly occurs on annual basis. Conferences gather people of common interests and are typically organized for business, academic or political purposes. Conferences are usually paid, closed to the public and are dictated by one-way communication where experts do most of the speaking.

Conventions on the other hand can be organized for a variety of purposes, usually based upon a certain industry, profession, or fandom. Conventions can be informal, open to the public and allow a higher degree of interactivity than conferences do.

Difference between Conference and Event

‘Event’ is an umbrella term that can be used to describe any type of organized happening from birthdays and weddings down to corporate meetings, conferences etc…

A ‘conference’ on the other hand is a specific type of event, formal in nature and usually takes place over several days. Conferences gather people of common interests and are typically organized for business, academic or political purposes.

Definition of Conference Management

Conference management is what ensues after a plan and objectives have been set; it entails overseeing the overall execution of the event, monitoring the progress of team members with their assigned tasks and resolving any situations or issues onsite. Conference management can either be done in-house within a company or by a third-party agency, commonly referred to as a professional conference organizer (PCO).

Types of Conference Management

Types of Conference Management

There are 3 common types of conference management depending on resources or preferences of conference owner:

  1. In-house management

    With available resources and manpower at their disposal, several conference owners opt for planning and managing their conferences internally with little to no help from their-party service providers.
  2. Joint-management

    Conference organizers can choose to hire professionals or an agency to work with for the duration of the conference. Efforts are divided between teams according to experience and capabilities for optimum results.
  3. Complete outsourcing of operations to a third-party service provider.

    Be it to Event Management, Tourism or Public Relation companies, some conference owners prefer to entrust a third-party service provider to carry the task of managing the conference in question from start to finish.
  4. Popular Conference Types

    Conferences can be organized for a variety of reasons, but there are three popular types of conferences; being business, academic or political conferences.

What Is the Process of Conference Management?

What Is the Process of Conference Management?

The process of conference management is typically as follows:

  • Drafting a master plan for the conference with overall budget
  • Identifying the conference's objectives as well as date and location
  • Identifying people to be involved, from team and committee members
  • Reviewing plans and assigning tasks to team members
  • Drafting a timeline for tasks completions
  • Inviting speakers and making arrangement for entertainment (if needed)
  • Finalizing a guest list
  • Finalizing registration types, pricing and deals (if any)
  • Making arrangements with third-party suppliers and vendors where needed
  • Making arrangements with hotels, airlines and transportation companies if necessary
  • Choosing a conference management software to automate processes
  • Building your conference website and mobile app
  • Choosing the method of collecting your registrations, submissions, payments and more
  • Sending well-written and designed invitations to your participants
  • Notifying your participants, authors or speakers of any important updates
  • Preparing the onsite operation schedule and the team to carry out onsite tasks
  • Reviewing the event hall decoration, furnishing and equipment to be used onsite; presentation equipment, desks, seats, audio/video equipment etc...
  • Preparing participant kits with event booklets, goodies (if any) social event tickets, etcÖ

Types of Event Management

The most common types of event management based on the resources or preferences of event owner:

  1. In-house management

    With available resources and manpower at their disposal, several event owners opt for planning and managing their events internally with little to no help from their-party service providers.
  2. Joint-management

    Event organizers can choose to hire professionals or an agency to work with for the duration of the event. Efforts are divided between both teams according to capabilities for optimum results.
  3. Complete outsourcing of operations to a third-party service provider.

    Be it to Event Management, Tourism or Public Relation companies, some event owners prefer to completely entrust a third-party service provider to carry the task of managing the conference in question from start to finish.

Who Is A Conference Manager? What Does A Conference Manager Do?

A Conference Manager is the person entrusted to manage all details of an event as per a pre-devised plan; his job entails overseeing the overall execution of the event, monitoring the progress of team members with their assigned tasks and resolving any situations or issues on site.

Conference management can either be done in-house within a company or by a third-party agency, commonly referred to as a professional conference organizer (PCO).

Difference Between Conference Manager and Event Manager

Difference Between Conference Manager and Event Manager

‘Event’ is an umbrella term that can be used to describe any type of organized happening from birthdays and weddings down to corporate meetings, conferences etc…

A ‘conference’ on the other hand is a specific type of event, formal in nature and usually takes place over several days. Conferences gather people of common interests and are typically organized for business, academic or political purposes. A manager role for an event of any type would entail overseeing the overall execution of the event, monitoring the progress of team members with their assigned tasks and resolving any situations or issues on site.

What Skills Do You Need for Conference Management?

What Skills Do You Need for Conference Management?

Successful event organizing takes a lot more than having budgets and finances in order; event organizers must possess certain skills to ensure their events run smoothly as planned. While it could be argued that some of these skills in question are innate and one must be born with, practice, determination and hard work are key to making any challenging task work.

  1. Great Attitude and Communication Skills

    Event organizing is seldom a one-man job; teamwork is necessary for any operation to work. Therefore, event organizers must have good interpersonal skills, listen to team members' ideas and concerns to eliminate communication breakdowns. Having a positive and enthusiastic attitude is also key to motivate and uplift the team as a whole.
  2. Good Decision-Making Abilities

    Strategic and sound decision-making is key to successful event organizing; be it budgetary decisions or ones concerning event flow, making the right choices optimizes all of your processes.
  3. Flexibility, Creativity and Ingenuity

    Event organizers must be able to think on their feet; any number unanticipated issues may arise during your event so you must be able act fast and harness your ingenuity to come up last minute creative solutions.
  4. Attention to Details

    Paying attention to the smallest details can make all the difference when planning an event; it ensures that each and every element is properly organized and in place for things to run efficiently as intended.
  5. Good Time Management Skills

    Good time management and even multitasking skills are fantastic qualities of an event organizer. Having the ability to prioritize tasks allows you to be more productive and achieve more within a limited time frame.
  6. Leadership Skills

    It takes great leadership abilities to organize an event. Event organizers must be able to delegate tasks efficiently and guide team members in accomplishing tasks on time in an organized and efficient manner.
  7. Organizational Skills

    Events are a meticulously choreographed show; event organizers must ensure each step or element runs smoothly in time and maintain a successful flow.
  8. Tech Savvy

    With ever-evolving technologies that make our tasks easier, event organizers must utilise such tools to save time and be more efficient and productive.

Today, there is an abundance of event management softwares that can automate tedious processes and make event organizing a breeze! With different features offered, event organizers must carefully select a software platform that best suits their needs. Variables such as size of event, or number of events to be organized should be considered when choosing an event management software. More importantly, the best softwares should offer innovative and customizable features as well as round-the-clock customer support when needed.

Why Is It So Important for Conference Managers To Plan Properly?

Why Is It So Important for Conference Managers To Plan Properly?

Strategic event planning is important to achieve all event objectives; cut costs and increase attendee satisfaction, but also to eliminate any reputation issues or crises that may arise, because a poorly planned event can do more damage to a business's reputation than having no events at all. When you start planning an event, consider why you're organizing one in the first place and what kind of audience you'd like to attract. Having your objectives in check is crucial in planning; objectives act as a roadmap, providing you with focus and keeping you on the right track. Once objectives are determined and a guest list is set, deciding on themes, speakers, venues, accommodations and more ensues.

Proper planning should cover all aspects of an event from getting the right team, delegating tasks strategically, establishing communication channels, knowing which tasks to prioritize, setting deadlines, determining event flow and making sure each activity occurs at its scheduled time. The more elements run smoothly the more success you can guarantee for your event.

Event organizers can also go the extra mile by being tactical thinkers - anticipating any issues or scenarios that may arise during the event and have procedures and protocols in place for such. At the end of the day, all event organizers want their events to be successful, and strategic, meticulous planning makes all the difference.

Importance of Conference Management

Regardless of industry or field, not all organizations are in the business of organizing conferences. Organizations hold conferences when they have capability, both in terms of finances and manpower, as well as public interest, i.e. having an audience who's interested and willing to attend.

Conferences are a great way to increase awareness of both subject matter (the topic/theme of conference) as well as the organization that holds them. Conferences are also quite profitable; in fact, the wider industry of Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) grosses millions annually worldwide. Conferences are a great way to market your brand, association, society, culture, location and even the entire country as a hub for international events. Some industries and fields are dependent on conferences, such as Property, Transportation, Commerce, Publishing, Food & Beverages, as well as Science, Technology and Academia.

What Is Convention and Event Management?

A Convention is a specific type of event that can be organized for a variety of purposes and is usually based upon a certain industry, profession, or fandom. Conventions can be informal on occasions and open to the public.

‘Event’ on the other hand is an umbrella term that can be used to describe any type of organized happening from birthdays and weddings down to corporate meetings, conferences, conventions etc. (refer to types of events above for more information).

What Does an Event Manager Do? What Does an Event Planner Do? What Is Event Planning and Event Management?

Event planning is the very first step of event organizing. It entails developing a blueprint that covers all aspects of the event from start to finish. Objectives are drafted then event planners can continue by carefully deciding on themes, budgets, venues, hotel deals, suppliers, menus and catering, guest speakers, entertainment, transportation, invitations and more. Once a plan has been set in motion, now event organizers can move on to the harder task of managing all the moving components.

Event management entails overseeing the overall execution of the event, monitoring the progress of team members with their assigned tasks and resolving any situations or issues on site.

What Is MC In Event Management?

MC stands for ‘master of ceremonies’ - though can also be called emcee, host or compËre. A MC is the official host of a ceremony, event or performance. They take the responsibility of delivering the welcoming address, introducing special guests and other speakers, and moving the event program forward. They must be fully versed in the running order of the show, and know the approximate times of each element of the event components.

What Is the Process of Event Management?

The process of event management is typically as follows:

  • Drafting a master plan for the event with overall budget
  • Identifying the event's objectives as well as date and location
  • Identifying people to be involved, from team and committee members
  • Reviewing plans and assigning tasks to team members
  • Drafting a timeline for tasks completions
  • Inviting speakers and making arrangement for entertainment (if needed)
  • Finalizing a guest list
  • Finalizing registration types, pricing and deals (if any)
  • Making arrangements with third-party suppliers and vendors where needed
  • Making arrangements with hotels, airlines and transportation companies if necessary
  • Choosing a event management software to automate processes
  • Building your event website and mobile app
  • Choosing the method of collecting your registrations, submissions, payments and more
  • Sending well-written and designed invitations to your participants
  • Notifying your participants, authors or speakers of any important updates
  • Preparing the onsite operation schedule and the team to carry out onsite tasks
  • Reviewing the event hall decoration, furnishing and equipment to be used onsite; presentation equipment, desks, seats, audio/video equipment etc…
  • Preparing participant kits with event booklets, goodies (if any) social event tickets, etc…

What Does Event Management Entail?

After developing a blueprint that covers all aspects of the event from start to finish and deciding on themes, budgets, venues, hotel deals, suppliers, menus, speakers, entertainment, transportation, invitations etc, now event organizers can move on managing all of their event's components. Event management entails overseeing the overall execution of the event, monitoring the progress of team members with their assigned tasks and resolving any situations or issues on site.

Conference Manager Salary

Event Management is quite a lucrative business, in fact, according to reports as recent as May 2018, the average salary for an Event Manager is $50,000 a year in the United States.

Conference Manager Salary Range by Country

According to several reports, the average annual income of event/conference managers as of 2018 is as follows:

Conference Manager Salary Range by Country

Conference Management Courses

Conference management courses vary in terms of price, duration as well as provider; there are some institutes and universities providing long term courses and certifications in event and conference management, but there are also short terms ones that can be found at training centres and associations as well as online. Some of the associations that provide tremendous resources and even workshops / training courses on occasions are:

  • CEIR: the Center for Exhibition Industry Research
  • EIC: Events Industry Council
  • ESA: Event Safety Alliance
  • IAEE: International Association of Exhibitions and Events
  • IAVM: International Association for Venue Managers
  • UFI: The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry
  • MPI: Meeting Professionals International
  • NACE: National Association for Catering & Events
  • PCMA: Professional Convention Management Association

As for universities and colleges, some of the notable US-based ones that offer useful programs are:

  • Florida International University - Miami
  • University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  • University of Central Florida - Orlando
  • Iowa State University
  • Kennesaw State University - Atlanta area
  • Indiana University ñ Purdue University at Indianapolis
  • University of South Carolina - Columbia
  • Metropolitan State University - Denver
  • Georgia State University - Atlanta
  • San Jose State University - California
  • Madison Area Technical College - Wisconsin
  • East Carolina University
  • San Francisco State University

Online Conference Management Courses

There are several online courses that teach candidates the skills needed for conference management. Some of the popular conference management courses are:

Free Conference Management Courses

Conference management courses vary in terms of price, duration as well as provider; several institutes and universities provide long term courses and certifications in event and conference management, but there are also short terms ones that can be found at training centers and associations as well as online. Another great way to learn about conference management is via YouTube videos as well as blogs available online; such content is easily searchable and free to access. Some channels that offer great insight into conference and event planning are: Event Planning Blueprint TV, The Caterer, QuickMobile and Events Uncovered TV.

Conference Management Companies

Conference organizing is time consuming and requires relevant expertise; it takes a lot of strategy, planning and teamwork behind the scenes to ensure all the pieces are in their place.

Not all organizations have the capability, in terms of manpower and expertise, to organize conferences; thus several organizations outsource their operations to third-party agencies that specialize in event and conference management such as Professional Conference Organizers (PCO), Destination Management Companies (DMC) as well as individuals offering conference management services such as certified event planners and even some travel experts.

What Is Conference Management Software?

Event management softwares assist organizers in automating a good majority of their tedious tasks; from managing registrations, marketing, submissions and uploads, bookings, payments and to creating websites, mobile apps and more.

Open Source Conference Management Softwares

A conference management software assists organizers in automating a good majority of their tedious tasks; from managing registrations, marketing, submissions and uploads, bookings, payments and to creating websites, mobile apps and more. When a conference management software is open source, it means that its original source code is available for modification.

International Conference Solutions

There are several considerations to be thought of when organizing conferences in international destinations; working around language barriers, knowing which local guest speakers would be influential as well as which locations to book, negotiating costs with vendors and more, the bottom line is, expertise and knowledge of the country in question and it's industries are due to ensure the success of your conference. Thus hiring local agencies or independent consultants is highly advisable as they possess the knowledge and expertise needed to assist in you in organizing your conference.

Academic Conference Management Software

An academic conference management software is one that provides advanced content management tools for academic conference organizers to be able to collect, view and grade abstracts, papers, presentations and various academic documents, as well as communicate accordingly with their students / participants in a swift and easy manner.

Online Conference System

An online conference system assists organizers in processes such as managing registrations, marketing, submissions and uploads, bookings, payments as well as allows for better communication between all the parties such as committee members, reviewers, suppliers, etc…

Open Conference System

An open conference system is free open-source content management software for building and deploying a web presence for a scholarly conference. When a conference management software is open source, it means that its original source code is available for modification.

Conference Management System Project Documentation

Conference Management System Project Documentation refers to the documents that guide conference organizers in using their chosen conference management system; charts, forms, logs, reports as well as procedures and protocols for onsite operation etc…

Documentation also entails having a traceable record or history the entire project. It is also extremely important that the documentation is well arranged, easy to read, and adequate. When using a user friendly conference management interface, you can follow the structure easily as well as step-by-step guides to manage your conference successfully.

Free Conference Management Softwares

Conference Management Services

Conference management services vary, from contracting a 3rd party conference manager to oversee and manage all details of a conference, to suppliers and vendors performing single services such as catering, tech support etc…

Conference Management Tools: Online Conference Management Tools

Conference management tools, whether online or offline, perform various solutions to optimize and expedite processes; they are all the systems, applications, gadgets and equipment that conference organizers use before the event and onsite.

Conference Management System

A Conference Management System indicates a software that's used to manage conferences. In another sense, the word ‘system’ isn't just confined to mean a software; it can also indicate the bigger scheme of conference organizing, i.e. all procedures in place that are performed physically by the conference organizing team.

A conference management system should have tools in place to manage online registrations, ticketing, marketing, abstracts and uploads, bookings, payments and budgets as well as assists in creating a website and mobile app.

Web-based Conference Management System

A web-based conference management system is an online software (as opposed to a downloadable computer software) that's used to manage conferences.

A conference management system should have tools in place to manage online registrations, ticketing, marketing, abstracts and uploads, bookings, payments and budgets as well as assists in creating a website and mobile app.

Conference Management System Vs Conference Management Software

It's safe to say that today, a Conference Management System & Conference Management Software can be used synonymously to indicate a software that's used to manage conferences. In previous years, conference management softwares had a limited capacity to manage multiple processes; now, softwares available on the market provide event organizers with holistic system that takes care of almost all processes conference organizing entails. In another sense, the word &lsqo;system’ isn't just confined to meaning a software; it can also indicate the bigger scheme of conference organizing, i.e. all procedures in place that are performed physically by the conference organizing team.

Conference Management System Project Documentation Sample

Conference Management System is an application for maintaining the preparation and operation of a conference includes participant registration, submission, payments, bookings, conference agenda, etc…

Project documentations guide you in working a conference management system. It refers to the documents that guide conference organizers in using their chosen conference management system; charts, forms, logs, reports as well as procedures and protocols for onsite operation etc…

Documentation also entails having a traceable record or history the entire project. It is also extremely important that the documentation is well arranged, easy to read, and adequate. When using a user friendly conference management interface, you can follow the structure easily as well as step-by-step guides to manage your conference successfully.

Conference Management System SRS

SRS stands for a software requirements specification (SRS) is a description of a software that lays out functional and non-functional requirements and establishes the basis for an agreement between customers and software provider on how the product should function.

For a conference management system, SRS should provide a detailed assessment of the software's main requirements to reduce the number of redesigning at later phases. It should also provide a basis for estimating software costs, risks, and timelines, that when adhered to, can help prevent software project failure.

Conference Management System Problem Statement

Some of the problems conference organizers can encounter with a conference management system have to do with speed, responsiveness and user-friendliness - all of which are essential to ensure time, money and efforts aren't wasted away.

Some of the flaws of certain conference management systems can be:

  • Lengthy and over complicated software setup
  • Limited customization
  • Expensive subscriptions and charges per event/registrant
  • Lack of automation with mundane processes hence lots of manual efforts are needed
  • Unfriendly user-interface causing confusion or mistakes for participants and organizers
  • Systems required training to be able to use the system efficiently witch cost.
  • Outdated communication channels
  • Limited third-party integrations with other mainstream service providers

Conference Management System Database

Conference management system database is a complex body of information related to the conference participants, submissions, bookings, payments, etc… This information is stored systematically in tables to easily view and retrieve any particular info.