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How to survive a 2,000 delegate conference – Part 1

This year we undertook the most ambitious event project we’ve handled to date – a 2-day, 5-track London conference with 5 keynotes, 54 sessions, 100 experts, and 2300 delegates. It was intense!
But it was also well worth it. Delegate feedback was incredibly positive, the clients were very happy and we learned so much that we feel it’s our duty to share. So here’s Part 1 (we said we learned a lot!)

Part 1: 8 steps to stress-free registration

  1. Know the culture
    If you are working abroad in an unfamiliar country make sure you do your research. Things like knowing how to greet delegates, or simply understanding the way they do things, makes all the difference. Are delegates likely to show up at the last minute (e.g. just before keynote)? Do you need a plan for getting them into the venue quickly and efficiently? You just need be prepared! 
  2. Prepare your registration staff
    For large events you might need to source registration staff externally. As they are your delegates’ first point of contact they need to make the right impression. So train them. Practise the registration process with them. Make sure they are well-dressed, friendly, professional and can answer questions about the event – they need to know essentially everything, from where all the sessions take place, to where the toilets are. You need to be sure they are representing the brand appropriately, so don’t be afraid to give them some bedtime reading pre-event! 
  3. Streamline your queues
    Know your registration space and map the flow of your delegate journey. Make sure you have allowed for queue lines and mark these out with stanchions and ropes (don’t rely solely on the venue having these; if you’re expecting high numbers you may need to source them externally.) Dedicated queues for speakers, sponsors, partners etc. will also assist to streamline the process – and will alleviate potential speaker stress…  
  4. Use registration hosts
    Hosts (at the entrance and roaming the queue lines) are also good to reduce stress levels. They can welcome guests, answer questions, provide housekeeping information and ensure delegates, even non-registered ones, are ready to check in as quickly as possible. 
  5. Go self-service
    With so much technology out there to make it easier, self-service check in is the way forward if it’s possible. Supplying delegates with a barcode/QR code in their confirmation email puts them in control (and more importantly, makes them feel in control) and speeds up the registration process. 
  6. Don’t overload them
    You have plenty of delegates to get through. Yes be friendly, but be efficient – welcome them to the event, and get them in. Avoid over supplying them with too much verbal information, for their sake and yours. Why not use their badge for essential details like WIFI code, emergency procedures, and social media info. You’ll save time, and delegates don’t have to memorise everything.  
  7. Have a back up technology plan
    We all know that technology can fail on us at the most inconvenient times. Ensure you test all registration equipment. Ensure you have some onsite technical assistance on standby, just in case. Also, always have back up equipment, ready to be plugged in if something goes down. 
  8. Get dedicated Internet
    High delegate numbers mean lots of internet usage. Make sure you have a dedicated internet network just for registration, which has plenty of bandwidth. Hard-line internet connections are always recommended.  

Sound like a lot to implement? Not really – most of it is just good common sense, and when your event gets off to a smooth start, it’s all worth it. The key is to Keep it Simple. Delegates just want to check in, collect their badge and get to the keynote. Keeping it uncomplicated keeps them happy.

Talk to us about your next B2B event.

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