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Closing Down a Conference

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 14 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Closing Down A Conference

Closing down a conference shouldn’t be too onerous but there a number of important issues that you will need to make sure are covered. You can also use information from the debris that can feed into the planning for the next conference and make it more efficient and successful.

Conference Clearance

Taking everything away is, of course, the obvious job, and make sure that you take everything of yours and nothing that belongs to the venue by mistake. It's tempting not to make lists of equipment and other items that you bring to a conference because you will assume that you won't forget what is yours and what belongs to the venue. But, particularly with long conferences, it is easy to get confused, particularly if your equipment is similar to equipment at the venue.

Planning before the conference should involve marking equipment that you are taking and making a list of the items so that you can check it off when you are closing down. If you company management has asset-tagged all your equipment then that will make it easier to see what's yours and what isn't.

Information Security

In these days of information being considered a valuable commodity it's also important to make sure that you take away any documentation that might contain personal details. Ad hoc lists of guest and delegates that have been printed off during the course of the conference, for example, should be shredded, or taken away with you if a shredder is not available.

You should also make sure that you take away any marketing collateral, brochures, menus and other printed matter. Apart from the fact that some of it could be reused for a subsequent conference, it’s all information that will show you how to be more efficient next time.

Management Accounting of Leftovers

By counting how much of each item is left over you can trim your printing costs for the next conference and demonstrate to management what was used by delegates and what wasn't. This can be used to inform management decisions surrounding any subsequent conferences.

If you had arranged free gifts and gadgets for delegates you can perform a similar management accounting process on those. This will tell you which sort of giveaway was attractive to your guests and which ones weren't, again helping to point the way for a follow-on conference.

If there are significant numbers of freebies left over distribute them among staff who helped during the conference and those back at the office who contributed to its success. Little touches like this that show recognition for effort are good management tactics and will help pave the way to get that help again for the next conference.

Feedback for Planning the Next Conference

Finally, make sure that you have completely up-to-date and correct attendance records for the delegates who attended the conference. It would be well worthwhile contacting all of them after the event to tank them for attending.

Consider including a survey to see what they liked and disliked about the conference and the venue, with an incentive to respond. You can get valuable management information that can be used for planning the next conference and ensuring greater success.

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