How to Organise a Conference in Scotland
Scotland is the ideal place to hold a successful business event. Our warm Scottish welcome, stunning scenery, vibrant cities and beautiful venues are sure to wow your attendees. So, how to go about it? Here are our top tips for planning a conference in Scotland.
Begin with a Clear Vision
Firstly, you need to create a picture of what you want to achieve from your conference. What are the main aims of the event? What’s the theme? Assemble your conference committee and chat through your ideas. Everyone should have their own area of responsibility, for example budgeting, PR, fundraising. But you must all be working towards the same goal from the outset.
Set your Budget
Now you need to work out a budget. How much money do you have coming in, and how are you going to spend it? Think about the conference venue and business accommodation, food and drink, entertainment, transport. And how you are going to promote the event.
Choose the Time and Place
Setting a date and picking a venue will influence the rest of the planning, from timescales to locations. So, it’s important to do this early. Have a rough date in mind, along with a list of essential requirements. For example, the maximum number of attendees, type of location, catering and facilities, accommodation.
On the Visit Scotland website you can search through many conference venues in Scotland. Choose from conference centres, universities, hotels, castles and quirky, unusual buildings. There’s somewhere for every type of event in the Highlands.
Shortlist some venues and check if they can accommodate your needs on budget. If possible, it’s great to visit each place in person to get a feel for it. Atmosphere is everything! If you need to check a few details before booking your perfect venue, ensure you hold the space provisionally for your preferred date. That way, someone else can’t book it while you’re deliberating. Then, secure the venue by thoroughly checking and signing the contract with the venue.
Finalise All Details and Create an Agenda
Now you have the time and place, you can plan all the finer details. You should liaise with the venue about catering and any other facilities they provide, like audio and visual equipment and attendee accommodation. If your venue does not offer these services, you’ll need to find suitable vendors who do.
Next, you’ll need to line up the speakers for your conference. Experts in your industry that can offer valuable insights to the conference delegates. Plan an exhibition area where partners and sponsors can showcase their products and services. Think about any entertainment that you may require to keep people happy and interested. And any decoration to add to the ambience of the event. If you’re having a Scottish theme for example, you might decide to hire a piper and decorate the tables with tartan. And you could arrange goodie bags containing Scottish tablet, whisky miniatures and other local delights.
You should now be able to put together an agenda and start promoting your conference to potential attendees. It’s a good idea to visit the venue and walk-through the planned itinerary as if you were a delegate, to be sure there are no logistical issues. Talk through the agenda with the venue and check everything will be in place.
It’s important to advertise your event as much as possible, to ensure you have a full guest list. The more people attend the conference, the more successful it will be. You could use an online Event Registration System like Eventbrite to help you promote the conference, manage the registration process and issue tickets.
The Big Day
On the day of the conference, be visible to your team in case any issues should arise. You should have delegated all tasks, leaving you free to oversee the event and make sure all runs smoothly.
After the event, thank all delegates for attending and ask them for any feedback.
If you need any further help planning a conference in Scotland, see our Highland Conferences section. Good luck with your event!