Why is Fall Prime Time for Conference Season?

IMG_6325Fall is our busiest season for event planning as our team is usually working on multiple conferences. We recently produced Distill, hosted by Engine Yard, on Treasure Island in August and are currently working on production for New Relic’s FutureStack conference in San Francisco, and Tech Cocktail’s Celebrate conference in Las Vegas, both happening October 24 and 25. I’m sure we’ll see some of you at those upcoming conferences and definitely let us know if you need a discount code for a ticket!

If part of your job responsibilities include attending conferences, you too feel the increase in conferences that happen in Q3 each year. We are asked all the time why this is…and I’m going to give you some insider event producer info.

Lead time:

    • There has to be ample time to plan a conference. Some people think they can pull off a conference in just a few months, and often they can, but it’s usually not the best it can be.
    • The right venue sets the tone for your event, which means it needs to be booked first. In San Francisco, depending on the size of your event, spaces are very limited which then means you’re competing for prime venue locations.
    • Speakers usually are scheduled far in advance due to other speaking engagements and travel so you want to lock them in early.
    • You have to make sure you have plenty of time for marketing and promotion to sell tickets.
    • Producing conferences with very little lead time can mean you’re running into rush fees and increased delivery fees for things like printing, signage, and swag. It can also mean any rentals you need, like AV and furniture, may not be available because they are already booked.

Schedules:

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    • Fall is the time of year when everyone is getting back into full swing after a few months of summer vacation. Kids are going back to school, which means strategically, conference production makes sense, so that child care becomes a little less of an issue (though sometimes can still be tough for some to navigate). It also means not having to compete with summer travel plans.
    • Because most conferences try to avoid pushing into November, which is when venues start to increase prices for holiday season, conference season gets stacked in September and October.

Budgets:

    • Conferences are a big cost and can increase based on the number of people you are expecting. You usually spend the bulk of your budget on the venue, then food and beverage, and AV.
    • Some clients are floored at how much we budget for Wi-Fi increases at venue spaces. It can be costly! Because we work with a lot of tech companies, this is a huge priority for us as we work to ensure that the Wi-Fi does not go down during events. At a recent event, an attendee was so impressed with the speeds of the Wi-Fi that he shared it on Twitter. Yeah–that’s why the Wi-Fi costs so much. 😉
    • So why is this listed as a factor for Q3 conferences? Because most companies replenish budgets on January 1 of each year which means budget planning and contracts usually get signed in January.

IMG_8581We usually suggest 8-10 months lead time for a multi-day conference. When you take into account schedules and budgets, the prime time for hosting a conference is that sweet spot of August through October. And that’s the insider info on why we think Q3 is the busiest season for conferences!

Thinking of planning a conference in 2014? We’d love to talk to you and help you navigate the planning and budgeting for your event. Hit us up and let’s chat!

 

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