Conferences with Exhibitions
A conference that has an exhibition attached has different logistics and requirements to one that doesn't. In some cases, it's not clear whether the exhibition is supporting the conference or vice versa and in any case the distinction is probably irrelevant to the person organising the conference side of it.
It's worth noting that most conferences that are twinned with exhibitions will be public events, is rare that a private conference or an internal company meeting will have an exhibition element to it. Many of the organising elements will be the same as those for a public conference but in this article we'll detail some of the differences that an organiser will need to be aware of.
Venue is Critical if an Exhibition is InvolvedThere are elements of the venue choice that matter more if there is to be an exhibition linked to a conference. A stand-alone conference will attract people for the duration, who are likely to stay overnight in nearby hotels. Exhibition visitors are more likely to come just for the day, or even a half-day.
This means that transport links to the venue are more important and the venue will need to be well known in order to convince exhibitors that the business they will generate from attending will make the effort worthwhile.
Different Catering Requirements to a Stand-Alone ConferenceCatering will need to be different too. With a pure conference you can generally guarantee that the majority of the attendees will eat and drink at the venue, during the breaks in the conference timetable. With an exhibition attached this is far less likely to be the case; many of course will eat during those breaks but there will be many other ad hoc demands on the catering facilities.
People attending the conference may well wander the exhibition during the breaks and then get refreshments when the conference has resumed if it's a part of the conference that doesn't interest them. Exhibitors will be on stands all day and probably try to grab a bite while the conference is on as the stands are less likely to be receiving important business visitors. Exhibitors will also want to get refreshments for their business visitors too.
All this means that as well as providing lunches and snacks at the conference break times, there will need to be other refreshment facilities offering snacks and a variety of beverages throughout the day and perhaps into the evening too. This is easier if the venue is a hotel, as those facilities will be on tap regardless. Full-on conference centres, whose sole business is hosting conferences and exhibitions, will also have these facilities available, so this may well be an influencing factor in venue choice.
More Business CustomersThe only other major area of concern is that there is perhaps more at stake with a conference that has an exhibition element too. When you are organising a conference you are really only beholden to the company or person who has arranged the event. When an exhibition is involved as well, then you have all the individual businesses who have taken stands to worry about too.
This means that your customer services skills and resources are more likely to be stretched by demands and it's might be worth taking on more administrators to cope with the extra work when an exhibition is involved as well;.