Australia is always abuzz with local, national and international events throughout the year. A 2015 report published by Ernst & Young on behalf of the Business Events Council of Australia estimates that “over 37 million people attended more than 412,000 business events across Australia in 2013-14.” And of course, conferences represented a significant portion of these events. However, successful conference management does not come without a degree of commitment and organization.
Conference management is the process of planning, controlling and coordinating a formal and participatory gathering lasting a single day or multiple days. All these processes are centered on the scheduling of activities, moderation of programs, coordination of participants, and allocation of financial resources. The conference management process essentially has all the ingredients of project management. As such, due regard must be accorded to its organization to ensure that it is completed within the set schedule, target budget and to the desired standards.
The most important ingredients of a conference are participants, venue and duration of the event. These key factors will determine the overall cost, logistical scope of a conference. For example, a multi-day conference involving hundreds of international participants will require more financial resources and logistical planning than a single-day event involving tens of local participants. And most importantly, the scope of the conference in terms of duration, number of participants and their location actually determines the scope of its budget as well. The management of a conference with a large delegation would mean spending more on a large administrative team, venue, public address equipment, food, drinks, security and marketing.
When organizing a conference, it is always important to aim for perfection because of the dynamics of organizing formal events. Like the rest of the event management activities, the conference management sphere boasts the presence of specialized service providers. You can avoid the pains and complexities of managing a conference by procuring the services of an experienced and reliable conference management firm. The advantage of outsourcing the management of your conference at a fee is that you can save time and cut down costs. This is because the specialized providers of such services already own most of the equipment and enjoy extensive industrywide networks that enhance their capacities to scale their resources according to the scope of a conference. Such flexibilities, along with economies of scale, make it possible for them to cut costs and charge you lower fees than you would have otherwise spent managing the conference on your own.
Innovations in information technology have seen the emergence of numerous conference management software applications that could help achieve perfection during the entire duration of the event. One such application is Microsoft Research’s Conference Management Toolkit (CMT). The CMT is designed for simplifying the organization of academic conferences. According to information published at the Microsoft Corporation website in November 2015, CMT makes it easier for conference organizers to manage workflows that relate to review procedures and data filtering. Such innovative conference management systems are not restricted to the academic sphere. There are many other IT systems and tools that are designed to automate or eliminate the complexity of organizing corporate and conference events.