STATEWIDE/REGIONAL CONFERENCE INFORMATION SHEET
CFMA Headquarters has developed the following “checklist” of responsibilities for chapters interested in structuring a statewide conference.
These guidelines include “First Things First,” the eight most important factors in planning the event—Set a Realistic Budget; Pick a Suitable Date; Location; Choosing the Site; Program Costs; Determine Your Target Audience; Identify Your Players; Develop Your Program. Each heading has corresponding bullet points to provide more detail and clarification.
Also included are the three key areas of responsibility—Conference Planning; Education/Program Content; and Marketing/Promotion—and suggested tips from Headquarters.
“FIRST THINGS FIRST”
Set a Realistic Budget
- Estimate the number of attendees
- Are the conference expenses covered by the registration fees only?
- Do we have sponsorship revenue?
- Can chapters obtain sponsors to offset costs?
Pick a Suitable Date
- Avoid competing with other conferences
- Avoid scheduling around holidays and vacations
- Avoid scheduling on the weekend of major sporting events
--Local popular teams/games (rivalries)
- Provide enough time to structure program
--Choose a date and work backwards from the date of the conference; or
--Estimate time needed for details and choose a date moving forward
- Allow a minimum of six months to successfully plan for a 1-2 day event
- Choose a central location that is easily accessible by all attendees
- Give program specifications (specs) to hotels
--Number of hotel sleeping rooms
--Food and beverage
- Obtain a minimum of three possible venues
Choosing the Site
- Cost for hotel sleeping rooms
--Is a room block needed?
--Is there a fee for not meeting room block total?
- Meeting space
--Is there a room rental?
--Can venue accommodate your needs?
--Are there enough meeting rooms?
- Audio/visual aids and expenses
--Is there one overall fee?
--Based on number of speakers?
- Food and beverage
--Are the menus negotiable?
--Is liquor by consumption or per drink?
--Will venue use top brand names?
--Will it be open bar/cash bar?
- When does the hotel need the final room block?
- Look at all logistics before deciding on venue
--Lowest price per person isn’t always the best deal
--Will your group have its own dedicated hotel contact?
--Are there any “hidden” costs?
--Other room charges (health club, telephone, etc.)?
- Stay within budget!!
- Look to break even
--Don’t over-price registration fee
--Use estimated attendance figures from each chapter
--Secure sponsors for events (breakfast, lunch, dinner, social event, etc.)
--Presentation needs (microphones, a/v equipment, etc.)
- Social event(s)
--Are they included in registration fee or separate fee?
--Will they be structured or “play by ear?”
- Brochure printing and mailing
--Mailed first class, third class, or bulk rate?
Determine Your Target Audience
- Only CFMA members?
- Other organizations
- Travel distance for potential attendees
--Two-hour travel time good benchmark for 1-2 day event
- Determine estimated attendance from each chapter
--Needed for budgeting purposes
Identify Your Players
- Specifically outline direct responsibilities for each chapter
- Segment responsibilities between chapters
- Consider chapter size/resources when determining responsibilities
- Determine one lead chapter to spearhead planning activities
- Determine one contact per chapter
- Form a Subcommittee consisting of at least one person from each chapter to:
--Approve entire program content
--Approve all marketing/promotional materials
- Identify one person from this Subcommittee to be the contact person with the hotel
- Schedule people to work the registration desk
Develop Your Program
- Block out program schedule in a grid
--Lunch with Keynote Speaker
- Determine topics
--“Beyond the Basics”
--Other CFMA educational programs
--Current industry or economic events
- Brainstorm for potential speakers
- Consider social events before, during, and after the program, such as:
“MAKING IT HAPPEN”
- Main specifications (specs) to focus on are:
--Room Block & Rate
--Meeting Space & Rental Fee (if any)
--Food & Beverage Costs
- Ensure the hotel provides at least two six-foot tables for registration
- Submit specs to three hotels
-- CFMA Director, Conference Services could assist with negotiations
- Subcommittee to make final site selection based on collected information
--CFMA Director, Conference Services could provide advice
- Confirm with hotel when final room block (sleeping rooms) is needed
- Determine Type of Education
- Secure Speakers
--Include biographies and brief topic outlines for brochure
- Keynote Speaker
--Biography and topic outline for brochure
- Social Event (Possible optional event)
- “Leadership Without Limits” Workshop (Possible event prior to conference)
- CPE Forms*
- Name Badges*
- Evaluation Forms*
- Subcommittee to review and approve entire program
* These can be obtained from CFMA Headquarters for a nominal fee
Assistance from CFMA Headquarters includes:
--Providing workbooks and speakers for “Basics” and “Beyond the Basics”
--List of speakers and topics from past CFMA Annual Conferences
--Providing successful program topics used by other chapters
- Brochure Development (Content determined and approved by Subcommittee)
--Education Information and session outlines
--Attendees are responsible for making their own travel/hotel arrangements
- Coordination of registration forms
--It is recommended to have one “point person” for registration forms
--This “point person” remains in weekly contact with hotel regarding registrations and sleeping rooms
--Provide hotel with final figures
- Announce conference at local chapter meetings and in local newspapers
- Include brief article in local chapter newsletters
- Follow-up e-mail reminders and post on local chapter Web sites
Assistance from CFMA Headquarters includes:
--Creating brochure design (chapters to be billed)
--Printing brochures (chapters to be billed)
--Promoting conference in “Chap Chats” and on CFMA Web site
--Providing mailing lists to chapter or vendor (Subcommittee to decide)
- Subcommittee chooses dates
- A minimum of three teleconferences is recommended
Assistance from CFMA Headquarters includes:
--Providing contact names/information of participants of other statewide conferences
--Scheduling teleconferences through its service
“THE DAY BEFORE”
- Subcommittee members should meet with hotel staff to ensure that all boxes/deliveries have arrived and are accounted for
- Subcommittee members should meet with hotel staff for a “walkthrough” of the conference agenda and meeting rooms based on hotel contract and Conference Event Order (CEO) sheets
- Review final numbers (sleeping rooms) with hotel staff
- If possible, set up meeting rooms the night before with any necessary materials/handouts to save time in the morning
“THE BIG EVENT”
- Contact person should have the hotel contract and Conference Event Order (CEO) sheets readily available
- Contact person should meet with the hotel contact prior to the start of the conference regarding any last-minute revisions
- Ensure that the registration desk is set up and fully manned
--Place name badges in alphabetical order
--Give attendees a CPE form and an evaluation form as they register
--Provide boxes for CPE forms and evaluation forms to be dropped off
- Monitor registrations regularly and compare them to projected numbers given to hotel
--Should food/beverage totals be adjusted?
- Check on meeting rooms at least an hour before the sessions to ensure:
--Proper set up (classroom, school room, etc.)
--Audio/visual equipment is available and working
--Temperature is at a comfortable setting
--All necessary materials are distributed
- Collect CPE forms and evaluation forms at the conclusion of the conference
- Schedule a “post conference” teleconference with the Subcommittee approximately one week after the conference
--Send copies of all evaluations forms to all members of the Subcommittee prior to the teleconference
--Ask Subcommittee members to make any notes regarding the conference
POST-CONFERENCE OBJECTIVE ANALYSIS
- Review all conference evaluation forms
- Provide an opportunity for each Subcommittee member to give their thoughts
- Was there enough sponsorship revenue?
- Review the Subcommittee’s notes and use them as a guideline for next year’s conference
--“What went right?”
--“What went wrong?”
--“What could we have done better?”
CLOSING THE BOOK
- Subcommittee needs to compile evaluations and send them to all attendees
- Contact person should send a hand-written thank you letter to every member of the Subcommittee
DISCLAIMER: The above information is to be used as guidelines only. (CFMA Headquarters assumes no responsibility for inaccurate/erroneous information). Please contact Mike Molaro, Director, Chapter Services, if you have any questions or concerns.