No one wants to attend another cookie-cutter conference. Attendees arrive expecting entertainment, empowerment, and knowledge. These rules apply to all business conferences, but I’ve found that they particularly apply to women’s conferences.
When considering how to plan a conference for women, it’s important to know that events tailored to females come with their intricacies. For ten years, the Turner Event team planned and managed a women’s conference, growing the number of attendees from 800 to over 2,500. Over time, we discovered that women’s conferences present an opportunity for the community to come together, to learn, and to inspire.
While planning your next women’s conference, add these 11 strategic to-dos to your list:
- Prioritize leadership. Planning a conference can feel like an evolving juggling act. Therefore, every event needs efficient leaders to manage moving pieces. Plus, I’ve found that organized event leaders provide a much-needed calm before the storm.
- Build a support system. Your event needs an internal and external support system. Your internal team may include advisors and experienced event planners while an external team may include top-tier vendors and venues. Note, look for vendors and venues that act more like your partner than just another cog in the machine.
- Find sponsors that care. Unfortunately, not all sponsors are created equal. It’s crucial to find sponsors that collaborate throughout the event planning and execution processes. Sponsors and sponsor packages have great value, and their benefits should attract attendees.
- Hire an all-star event staff. Recruiting reliable staff members and volunteers is necessary for every successful event. Your all-star event staff should be prepared to keep the conference on track and tackle last-minute changes.
- Prove success with metrics. Instead of assuming your conference was a success, prove it. I encourage all partners to track event ROI by putting appropriate KPI’s (key performance indicators) and marketing metrics in place. It’s the only way to prove an event’s success, and it’s an excellent way to attract sponsors for future conferences.
- Create a “stress-free” digital registration process. Forget “registration by mail” and switch solely to a digital registration process. This will ensure efficiency and accuracy while creating a stress-free check-in process. Plus, you can always encourage attendees to invite others by sharing the digital registration page via social media and email.
- Think like a recruiter. There’s power in numbers. Filling a room with one-off registrations is a challenge. Instead recruit attendees through sponsorships, organizations, companies, and other large groups affiliated with your organization.
- Go beyond the conference and plan secondary events. Let’s be honest, a lot of work goes into planning one women’s conference. To extend your hard work and efforts, provide female-focused ancillary events and look for specific women-centric spaces that appeal to target audiences.
- Consider a timeline that works for everyone. Parking takes time. On-site registration takes time. Grabbing a swag bag takes time. Everything…takes time! So, it’s crucial to draft a realistic timeline. Establish a start time that accommodates busy morning schedules for working mothers.
- Curate meaningful content. Although it’s important to keep content entertaining, it’s even more important that all conference presentations contain information attendees can use to better their daily lives.
- Ask for feedback. Send a short survey via social media and email to all attendees asking for their thoughts on the conference. This will uncover what went well and what you can work on for the next conference.
Planning events and conferences for women in business takes thoughtful planning. It’s important that all attendees leave feeling proud to be a woman and proud to be part of a strong, successful community. Ultimately, we believe it’s our job as event planners to help them walk away making better decisions for themselves at work and home.
Turner Events is an event management, and consulting firm focused on increasing your ROI. Whether you’re planning a conference, summit, educational seminar or convention, our full-service staff brings the experience you need to plan and manage a successful event.