What Are the Pitfalls When Organizing Large Conferences?

1. Countless hours of overtime

… and still nothing done. Along with the number of hours of overtime, the task list usually grows when planning conferences, which has already reached a length in the first phase of preparation that would keep you busy for the next few weeks. Customers have questions, partner companies have questions and, last but not least, there are the conference participants who are still missing important information before the start or who have an urgent request regarding their booking

However, it is often not the special cases that add to the overtime account, but on the contrary the small routine tasks that cost a lot of valuable time and where most errors creep in. It is often clear what needs to be done with these tasks, but it is at least as often difficult to get down to work, precisely because the work is not fun – and it could all be done much faster.

Converia regulates and automates the small-scale routine tasks at every stage. This allows organizers to drastically reduce their daily workload. For a three-day-conference with five parallel sessions, for example, a conference planning team saves up to six weeks of preparation time.

2. Is everything going according to plan? Umm… no idea.

There is probably not a single conference where the team behind it completely forgoes measuring success. As a conference organizer, that wouldn’t be a good idea either, because after all, customers want to see tangible results in the form of figures and evaluations at the end.

However, it is also important to not only take a look at the statistics at the very end, but also to know at any time in between whether the conference is heading in the desired direction.

The key to the solution here is also software. It is sufficient if it is equipped with a good dashboard. Has a new registration been received? Then the number appears on the dashboard. A participant has transferred their participation fee? One less outstanding payment on the dashboard. A reviewer has completed the evaluation of a paper? The number of outstanding reviews on the dashboard is reduced.

And if the numbers on the dashboard are not so good, you can send a reminder to the people whose still owe money with just a few clicks.

3. Too many tools spoil the broth

Is most of your conference planning already digital? Great, because the fewer printed or handwritten lists circulating in your team, the better.

If a team of several people all use their own version of the Excel participant list, things can get complicated and, above all, misleading. Time for another meeting: Which version is the current one?

Instead, your internal team principle should be: Everyone works in the same place with the same data. Most conference management tools are already pretty good for this. But a multitude of tools doesn’t necessarily make a good conference. Using software from different providers demonstrates a certain level of expertise, of course. After all, you’ve been thinking outside the box. But tools by different providers rarely get on well with each other. What if there are no interfaces? Then the data ends up being distributed in different versions across different systems – zero improvement made.

Therefore, try to solve as many tasks as possible with a single software. Are there interfaces? Import and export options? Which features are included? Can others be added later? Maybe start by changing just one feature first. Ask yourself: Which current process causes you the most pain? Then you should start at exactly that point. Once this has worked and there has been a noticeable improvement, move on to the next area.

4. Organizing an annual conference = doing everything all over again

Back to the routine tasks. If your conference is a recurring one, you’ll be familiar with these kind of tasks. Even if the structure of the conference doesn’t change much, the work starts all over again every time. Setting up, making basic settings – this is not creative work and just takes up loads of time. 

And why re do something that is already there? With software like Converia, you can use templates for an annual conference. This means that you only set up the event once in the system. In the following year, you simply reuse the settings and parameters from the previous year, which you can simply copy thanks to the template, without having to reconfigure anything.

5. No tax topics, please!

Every now and then, organizers question whether conferences with international participation are a good thing, at least for a short time. In any case, the question of the correct taxation of tickets is not known to lift the mood.

Conferences are a whole lot more special than small workshops with ten people. That’s why not every registration tool is suitable for implementing the reverse charge procedure, for example. Or to calculate mixed tax rates and show them on the invoice. For academic conferences in particular, different tax rates are often standard within a single offer: while the scientific program remains tax-free, 19% tax is charged for catering and 7% for the conference proceedings.

However, you don’t necessarily have to do the math yourself if the conference software can do it for you.

Would you like to know how? Just ask us.
We would be happy to look at the special requirements of your conferences together.

How does the transition work?

Our experience with conference organizers shows that a 180° turnaround is not always necessary and would sometimes even be too abrupt, because changing too many processes at once is certainly not the best idea in regular events operations.

Especially since there is likely to be at least one skeptical person in a team – so the best way to convince is to gradually introduce the software capabilities.

Some of our customers have therefore started small and gradually felt their way towards Converia. Start by asking yourself: What is the biggest challenge? Then use a software that, for example, handles the login process better than your current tool does. If this works, the software can also help you to collect contributions at the next conference – the next feature you might want to try out.

Despite all the relief, one thing will remain: deadlines. However, with the right software by your side, they will no longer be a threat to the success of your events – and you will finally have time again to focus on the big tasks and concentrate on them with a clear mind. Fortunately, everything else is running smoothly.