How to Plan Your Own Conference

5 Tips for a Great Small Business Conference

Our corporate team spent 3 days in sunny Orlando, Florida last week for our annual conference. It was a great time to reconnect with our franchisees (did you know that we have franchises in 22 states?), hear fantastic lessons from the field, and kickstart new initiatives within the company. It can be wonderful to collect your company and move them offsite to a new and exciting location, but as you can probably guess, it can also be a massive undertaking. Just how does your business pull off a successful conference or off-site event?

We’ve put together a list – one that can be followed by a larger company or even a small business that wants to do a day-long offsite meeting!

An engaging theme

Having a central and engaging theme on which to center your conference is a surefire way to keep your activities and topics focused. With a single target to hit, it’s easy to keep yourself on point. Brainstorm ahead of time what your company most needs to discuss or hear – for instance, our theme this year was Illuminate, to signify that our company is lighting up new paths, bringing greater clarity to our work, and forging ahead in the life of the business. This central theme made it a cinch to decide on which panels and speakers we should select.

Useful content

A conference is nothing without its content! Make sure that your panels or speakers are focused on that central theme – and that your theme is focused on a topic that will enhance your business. Ahead of time, think of what your business’ pain points are. Do you have trouble with staffing? Bring in a staffing expert to address the company, providing insight into ways to find and retain a great team. Is direction something your business needs? A business coach might be a great speaker, or a brainstorming session may be useful for a smaller group.

Easy travel

You want your team to be able to access all of your fantastically themed, highly useful content, so make sure that your conference is a location that’s easy for them to reach. If you have a smaller business and want to have an offsite conference, make sure that it’s easily drivable, and consider working on transportation options such as a van or carpooling plan. If your business is larger or spread out geographically, as with a franchise, choose a location with a major airport and many options for hospitality, entertainment, and food. Look into transportation for your team and keep them up to date on topics such as whether they’ll be able to take a shuttle from the airport or need to take a taxi.

A great planner

The best way you can ensure a great conference is to make sure that you have a single point of contact for each of the above-mentioned items. This person will be the keeper of the keys for your conference, ensuring that each detail is thought of and accounted for. If you’re lucky (like we were!), that person may be a member of your own staff! If not, purchasing the services of an event planner will pay for itself in the stress that it eases and the time wasting that it prevents.