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10 Steps to Plan a Successful Conference

15 March 2019

Orion Hotels & Resorts helping you plan your next Conference

So you got a big task to plan your company’s next conference or meeting. So the big question is where do you start? What do you need?

With every conference or meeting planning you need to organise, never go without your passion while planning this great event!

Don’t overthink the small things and focus on the bigger picture. But don’t panic, we’ve got you covered! We’ll tell you a bit more about what we value and see as the ultimate conference planning guide.

Here we go, you ready?

Step 1: Choose a Theme for your Conference
It’s awesome to have a theme for your conference, this ties everything together. What is the main focus of the conference? What will the key speakers talk about? And what do your delegates expect when they’re done with the conference?

This is the great, fun and creative part. Themes are normally catchy, relatable, and trigger an emotional response.

For instance, “One Team” is a much stronger message than “Building one Team for all employees”
Your Vision will also guide your branding and promotion, from creating a logo, inventing social media hashtags to printing your posters, brochures, and other collateral needed.

Further reading on themes:
• A brilliant guide from TED Create a Theme
• Choosing a theme made easy 127 Themes and concepts for your next corporate event

Step 2: Plan ahead and set a Time Scale
Depending on the size of your conference and if it’s an overnight conference where you will need accommodation as well. You will need up to 6 months of planning. If you don’t have 6 months, don’t worry, we are here to help.

Your timing should depend on the speakers you have in mind to book and the venue you want to use. Timely decisions and meeting supplier deadlines are crucial to lead to efficiently event execution. Try to stick to your supplier’s lead time as this will pay dividends in the long run.

Orion Hotels & Resorts has 9 hotels, located in 5 provinces: Gauteng, Mpumalanga, North West, KwaZulu-Natal, and Limpopo. Have a look at our venues we have to offer for all your conferencing needs, big or small Orion Hotels & Resorts

Step 3: Set a Budget
The biggest factor when planning your conference is money. The big bosses always want to know what the money gets spent on and why. You always need to know where your money is being earned or spent. If your conference is sponsored, you still have to do a budget nevertheless.

This will give you a holistic view of what you will need for your conference and this will make the planning much easier.

A few common aspects to focus your budget on:
• Venue
• Accommodation
• Transportation
• Catering
• Speaker Fee
• Activities / Team Building
• Marketing
• Team Members

With this budget, you can see where you need to cut and in which areas you need more funds. This is a great opportunity to negotiate prices with your suppliers.

Further reading on budgets
• Steps to develop a good budget Budget for your conference

Step 4: Book your Speakers
Your speakers make or break your conference. The Speakers are the stars of your conference, and delegate attendance can be affected by the quality speaker you choose.

If good speakers are hard to find, plan well in advance.

Start looking for leaders that focus on the same theme as your conference. Create a prioritised list of potential speakers you’d like to invite. Then start making those calls and writing those emails. The faster you act on this the better!

Go through your list as quick as possible and fill up those time slots with quality speakers! But don’t get rid of the list just yet! You always need back up speakers, anything can happen, that’s life! So that being said, you always need a Plan B.

You can also consider recruiting some local speakers. You’ll save on transportation and lend an air of authenticity to the conference.

Further reading on speakers
• Top Speakers in South Africa SA’s Best Speakers

Step 5: Choosing your Venue
To choose a venue sounds simple, but it’s actually not. There is a lot to consider when making your decision about the conference venue.

Here are some few pointers when choosing your venue:
Size: It’s important to find a venue that can accommodate your size of conference with ease. We don’t want too many people squashed in a small room or too big of a venue where your delegates disappear in the background.
Location: How convenient is it for everyone to get to the venue? Is it close to an airport if you have delegates flying in for the conference? Is public transport easily accessible? Or is your theme to get out of the city for a great team building or breakaway for those tedious strategy sessions.
Facilities: Does the venue have a proper layout and can you choose your conference room style? Does the venue have the necessary facilities, for example, extra room space for break-away sessions, private dinner areas etc?
Accommodation: If you are planning a 24hour conference or in other words, an overnight conference when accommodation is needed, it’s best to go with hotels as they offer these services already. Then everything is at one place, as delegates are not keen to drive from location to location when staying over for two nights or more.
Catering: If you are not using a hotel as your venue, you need to know if you need to organise the catering separately from the venue. And if it’s not, is there restaurants or café’s nearby?
Transportation: How easy is it for participants to travel to the venue by public transport? Are there enough parking spots for those who drive?
Technical Aspects: Does the venue have the right IT, audio, and video equipment? You’ll need projection screens, microphones, plenty of charging spots for delegates, and don’t forget the WIFI access? Is it free or do we need to pay?

At Orion Hotels we offer a seamless booking tool for your convenience and to get an instant quotation online in these 4 easy steps! Remember that the quotation is still negotiable and not set in stone.

Visit this link to get your conference quote Enquire Now

Further reading on venues
• How to choose your venue How to Compare
• Seamless Online Conference Quote GET IT NOW

Step 6: Talk to your Venue
If you are unsure about anything or would like their opinion on decisions you need to make. Don’t be shy and ask your venue. They have a lot of experience and are more than willing to share it with you. Your success is their success.

At Orion Hotels & Resorts we can assist you with a whole range of services from décor, entertainment, audio-visual equipment and facilities, specialised culinary choices, custom linen and with any other technical or aesthetic need or desire you have.

Our expert team is there for you and will help you completely plan and organise your event down to the tiniest details.

We know that every event is different with its own specific needs and objectives. We strive to assist you to create a tailor-made event customized to your every whim and requirement.

Step 7: Recruiting and Managing Registrants
All conference must effectively market their event to fill every seat in the house. Attendance is the single most important factor in the success of your event.

Good attendance in delegates brings revenue and sponsorship opportunities.

Your best choice is to make a professional website for the conference.

You need to at least include the following on your website:
• Choose the domain (i.e.
• Important details about the conference (where, when, who, what, why)
• Available to browse conference calendar / programme / agenda
• Registration form where people can sign up or buy tickets

It’s now very important to add your conference website to all marketing and info material going forward.

Step 8: On-site Planning
You need to know how your conference will flow on the day. From parking to walking to the conference room to dining and accommodation. Have you decided on your conference room layout or style? What problems might arise on the day of the conference with the flow?

Step 9: Take a look at our Winter Conference offerings at our 9 Hotels
Orion Hotels has a great offering for your conference you’re planning this winter. Book your accommodation and get your conference FREE! Isn’t that just great! Have a look below at our hotels and start planning your conference with us!

Looking to host your conference in Limpopo?
Orion Hotels has 3 beautiful hotels in Limpopo. We have Ditholo Game Lodge close to Bela-Bela that can host up to 40 delegates for an intimate bushveld experience, boma fire dinners, game drives, breakfast in the bush, paddle boats and volleyball games, just to name a few.

Coach House Hotel & Spa is located in the beautiful Tzaneen area. We can accommodate 150 for conferencing and 76 sharing for accommodation. Agatha Spa is also on the property if your delegates require some pampering during their stay. For those intimate dinners, a comfy wine cellar is available for your use.

North West, only the best, right?
Orion Hotels have 2 hotels with very much their own identity. We have The Venue Country Hotel & Spa in the Magaliesberg region, Broederstroom, very close to Hartbeespoort Dam.  So can you imagine the views of the mountains and roars of the lions at night (from next door), what better way to conference? We can host up to 200 delegates and have 132 sharing for accommodation. A 4×4 track is available for the adventurous and if you would like to be pampered, we have a Bakwena Spa Exclusiv available for the beauties.

Close to Sun City, you will find Safari Hotel & Convention Centre in Rustenburg. Hosting a maximum of 500 delegates and can accommodate up to 262 sharing. A private dinner venue is available for conferences less than 320 delegates. Under 1 hours’ drive from Sun City and Pilanesberg. Free wifi is also available.

Mpumalanga is also on our list of hotels
A Short distance from Mbombela Stadium you can find Hotel Promenade, located in Nelspruit. We can host up to 250 delegates and 144 sharing for accommodation. We are only 50kms away from Kruger National Park, so we are a great overnight stay on your way to the wild.

Step 10: The Follow Up
Remember your delegates! Always let them feel special.

Post-event communication:
Say “Thank you” – this will enhance your chances of retaining your delegates to come back to similar conferences you host.
Survey Time – it’s important to get feedback from your delegates about their experience. This will help you in future planning of your conferences to enhance your delegate experience and to make them happy

Written by Antoinette Kleyn
Marketing Manager