Organising a congress

Organising a congress: Steps to take and suggestions

Organising a congress is a great opportunity to build bonds with your public and audience, expand your breadth of knowledge and generate business opportunities for the development of your company. 

The organisation of an event requires exhaustive planning and careful coordination to guarantee success. In this article we will provide you with the necessary information you must take into account in order to organise a congress effectively; from what a congress is about, to the detailed steps you will have to follow.    

What is a congress and how is it organised?

A congress is an event which brings together experts, professionals and enthusiasts of a specific field. These people may represent a particular company, profession, industry or community.

The objective of this professional event is to share and exchange knowledge, present research, debate a theme, compare ideas and different opinions and  establish contact networks. Congresses usually include presentations, conferences, round tables, workshops and social activities. 

Congresses can be organised for many sectors: politics, science, medicine, technology, education, industry, commerce… They are one of the most efficient tools for promoting a sector.

They can also be organised at a local, national or international level and may last for a few days or up to several weeks depending on the magnitude or importance of the event.

Organising a congress entails a complex process which requires not only time but also creativity, proactivity, efficiency and coordination.

Steps for organising a congress

The organisation of a congress involves a series of key steps which must be followed in order to assure success. We provide you with a step by step guide below.

Define the objective and the theme of the congress.

Before the planning stage it is important to be clear about the objective and the theme of the congress. To achieve this, the objectives which we intend to meet and the public to whom the congress is directed must be defined. These aspects will be decisive in being able to take the appropriate decisions during the organisation process.

Set a budget

We must avoid unnecessary or unforeseen costs that may impact negatively on other areas of investment and consequently on the quality of the congress. Take into account the fixed costs such as rental cost of the space, catering services, conference speaker fees or marketing costs. However, we do recommend allowing for a budget provision to cover unforeseen costs.  

It is advisable to source additional financial provision such as sponsors and subsidies.

An important consideration is to decide if the congress will be free or if the attendees have to purchase a ticket.

The budget will determine the size of the event, the choice of the venue, the services offered, the speakers etc. which is why it is important to establish it in advance.

Form an organising committee

In the process of organising a congress, several teams work together: the production team, the commercial team, the comunication team, etc.

It is important to gather together a team of dedicated and competent people who can collaborate in the planning and execution of the congress.  

You must also assign roles and specific responsibilities to assure that every aspect is covered, from the logistics through to the marketing and financial management. All of those involved must be totally coordinated and they must internalise their tasks. 

In addition, during the months prior to holding the congress, the organising committee must prepare an action plan which includes the timing of tasks to be carried out.

Finding speakers

The speakers represent the real pull of a congress. Having the presence of a recognised and important speaker for the theme of the congress you are going to organise can be crucial for persuading your public to attend the event. 

In order to do this, it is important to find experts in the chosen theme, outstanding figures in the sector, both national and international.  

Contacting them with sufficient advance warning is essential in order to be sure of their presence. In this way you can organise round tables, conferences on a particular theme… in good time.

Likewise, it is a good idea for the speakers to have correlative and diverse profiles which complement each other. 

Choose the place and the date

The best dates to hold a congress are usually those that do not fall at the time of year coinciding with many events or holidays such as Easter, Christmas, or the months of July and August. Take into account the availability of  the speakers.   

You must also choose a city with easy access and a convenient location for both attendees and speakers. 

With regard to the place, you must take into consideration that it affords the necessary facilities for the activities you have in mind. Remember also that it must be in an attractive area which offers the possibility to have activities outide (or inside) the congress space, which will generate greater interest among the participants.

Make sure there is accommodation nearby in the case of the congress not being held in a hotel.

We recommend that you always reserve the chosen venue sufficiently in advance.

Prepare a  programme

Generally speaking, a congress represents a cost also for the attendees, which means that in order to be sure that they attend it is important to offer a full programme of activities to encourage them to take part. 

Design a detailed programme for the whole congress organised by time slots. Include conferences, presentations, workshops, networking sessions, meals, breaks…

Manage the  logistics

Managing the logistics is fundamental, especially as the date of the congress approaches.

Organise the details related with the registration of the participants, the accommodation, transport, translation services, catering and necessary materials. 

Make sure that the speakers are provided with the necessary equipment for their presentations such as projectors, screens, and laptops. 

Promote and publicise the congress

A key factor in the  publicity of the event is the preparation of the marketing and promotion strategy.

Using corporate social networks is an effective promotional strategy to publicise the information of the event, as is carrying out email marketing campaigns or publishing the news on the relevant media.  

How much does it cost to organise a congress?

The cost of organising a congress can vary depending on several factors, like the scale of the event, length, number of participants and the services offered. You must always consider the fixed costs such as the venue rental, promotion and logistics.

However, the cost of organising a congress not only involves economic aspects. A significant investment of time, effort, dedication and management skills is also required.

What do you need to organise a congress?

To organise a successful congress, you will need a combination of skills and resources including: 

  • A committed and dedicated organising team.
  • A detailed budget and financing strategies.
  • Appropriate spaces for the conferences and other activities.
  • An attractive programme with appealing speakers.
  • Strategies for effective promotion.
  • Solid and meticulous logistics management.
  • Technical back up and audiovisual equipment.
  • Necessary supplies and materials.
  • An efficient system for the registation of participants.
  • Volunteers to assist during the event.

Key points in congress organisation

There are some key points to be taken into account which will help to guarantee the success of congress organisation.

One of the most influential factors is to carry out meticulous and detailed planning concerning all aspects of the congress from the choice of the theme to the logistics and promotion. 

In order to do this planning we recommend creating documents such as Excel where attendance, transport and suppliers can be managed. This file will allow you to organise the information and manage the registration and control of the confirmed or cancelled participants and of the accepted suppliers etc. 

We also advise you to create a folder in your email programme to centralize all the information about the congress.

Additionally, it is important to set up alarms and reminders to be watchful of the timings and to have everything under control. 

As you will have noticed, organising a congress can be a challenge but with the appropriate planning and efficient execution you can create a successful and rewarding event.

Follow our advice adapting the process to your needs and be sure to offer a unique experience to your participants.