Conference Management

A Guide to Credit for Prior Learning

Typical Learning Experiences of Students Earning Lower-Level Credit:

  • Work as an assistant conference chairperson, meeting planner and/or scheduler of meetings, workshops and conferences.
  • Work on-site at conferences, meetings or seminars.
  • Prepare pre-event materials.

Typical Learning Experiences of Students Earning Upper-Level Credit:

  • Work in conference management for several years. Students may have been responsible for the management of all of the conference details, in charge of a portion of the conference, or in charge of training the staff.
  • Read books and articles in newsletters and periodicals about conference management, meetings, and seminars. May have published articles on conference and meeting planning.
  • Applicants for upper-level credit in this area are often granted credit in an area more narrowly defined. Common topics for which upper-level credit is awarded are program planning, program evaluation, direct marketing, adult learning and training.

Discussion Topics:

If students are familiar with some (but not necessarily all) of the following topics, they may be eligible for lower-level credit in the area of conference management. If the students are familiar with advanced questions, they may be eligible for upper-level credit. If knowledge of some of the topics is substantial, the students may consider requesting additional credit in more narrowly defined areas.

Events/Programs

Facts, definitions, concepts (lower-level):

  • What type of events and programs do you manage? How often? (Examples of different event types include: in-house meetings, off-site meetings, seminars, workshops, conferences, tele-conferences, videoconferences, computer-linked meetings and/or electronic blackboard meetings.)
  • Select four of these event or program types, and discuss their particular purposes and benefits.

Relationships, knowledge of discipline, methodologies (upper-level):

  • What considerations go into deciding the type of program or event to be held?
  • What is the value of having program advisory committees? How are such committees created, and what is their role?

Audience

  • Facts, definitions, concepts (lower-level):
  • How do you determine who should attend? How do you determine the attendees’ learning needs? Are there other ways that could be useful?

Relationships, knowledge of discipline, methodologies (upper-level):

  • Why is audience/client involvement in program planning valuable? What are feasible ways to obtain this involvement?

Advertising and Marketing

Facts, definitions, concepts (lower-level):

  • What media are useful and why?
  • What do you consider to be the most effective advertising/marketing formats you have used? Why?
  • What are good ways to obtain TV, radio, newspaper and Internet coverage of your event?
  • What selling points do you use with the media?
  • What market research would be helpful to programs with which you are familiar?

Relationships, knowledge of discipline, methodologies (upper-level):

  • What is involved in developing a marketing campaign rather than seeking individual promotional opportunities?
  • How can you determine the relative effectiveness of different promotional techniques for the same event?

Administrative — Before the Event

Facts, definitions, concepts (lower-level):

  • What are important considerations when
    • choosing the facility, location and date?
    • confirming the site and space?
    • negotiating the costs?
    • determining the registration fees and per person costs?
    • developing the mailing list/attendee list?
    • developing program/agenda information?
    • copying materials?
    • ordering printed information and signs?
    • ordering registration materials: folders, ribbons, name badges, etc.?
    • preparing the registration materials/packet?
    • arranging travel to and from event, using car, plane, train, maps, directions?

Relationships, knowledge of discipline, methodologies (upper-level):

  • How does the audience and the purpose of the event affect pre-event decisions, such as location, facility selection, food, speaker honoraria, etc.?

Environment/Facility

Facts, definitions, concepts (lower-level):

  • What are some types of room arrangements and why are they used?
  • How does the group size affect the room arrangements?
  • What are some of the special set-ups you have needed for your events?
  • What state and federal laws impact room arrangements?
  • What special considerations are needed for outdoor events?
  • How can technology be used for conferences and meetings?

Relationships, knowledge of discipline, methodologies (upper-level):

  • How do the purpose of the event and the intended audience affect room arrangements and special set-ups?
  • What are the conditions necessary for effective video computer conferences?

Budgeting/Negotiating

Facts, definitions, concepts (lower-level):

  • What are the cost categories for your programs? What other cost categories might programmers have?
  • What does determining the break-even point mean? How do you do this?
  • Under what circumstances is a cancellation policy important? What should it include?
  • How do you determine administrative costs? How do you recover them?
  • Discuss negotiating with facilities’ representatives and service providers. What is your main purpose going into a negotiation? Other purposes? What techniques to you use? Do they use? Why?

Relationships, knowledge of discipline, methodologies (upper-level):

  • How do you, or would you, go about conducting a cost/benefit analysis for your programs? What are the strengths and weaknesses of this approach?

Scheduling/Logistics

Facts, definitions, concepts (lower-level):

  • What are the considerations you use in deciding on the following aspects of events:
    • General Sessions - how many, style seating, media needed.
    • Breakout Sessions - how many, concurrent, seating style, audio/visual needs, how many set-ups/breakdowns.
    • Exhibits - tabletop displays; booth size; number of spaces reserved in contract; pipe, drape and carpeting needed; cleaning service contracted and costs; electrical needs; advertising; signs; shipping move in and move out arrangements; days need space; times exhibits open.
    • Meals - how many, sit down, buffet, on own, concessions, themes, food at other times, break food and beverage.
    • Entertainment - what, when, how often, how long, included in price or extra, special needs and media effects, tickets, door prizes, raffles. negotiation? Other purposes? What techniques to you use? Do they use? Why?

Speakers/Presenters/Facilitators

Facts, definitions, concepts (lower-level):

  • How are they chosen?
  • When presenters receive honoraria, how are these amounts determined?
  • What transportation arrangements are necessary?
  • What speaker promotional information is useful and how can it be used?

On-site Coordination

Facts, definitions, concepts (lower-level):

  • How is responsibility organized and assigned? (By day and time, by room, by function?)
  • What is the function of a headquarters room?
  • What emergency and last minute problems must be planned for? What are some problems/changes that you have experienced?
  • How do you prepare for medical emergencies?

Evaluations

Facts, definitions, concepts (lower-level):

  • What is the purpose of program evaluation?
  • What is evaluated?
  • Who evaluates?
  • What tools are used? (structured questionnaires, open-ended questionnaires, interviews, etc.) Why?
  • How are the results used?
  • What changes have been made (or could be made) from evaluation suggestions?

Relationships, knowledge of discipline, methodologies (upper-level):

  • What are the requirements for an effective program evaluation design? What are the challenges in carrying it out?

Follow-up

Facts, definitions, concepts (lower-level):

  • What post-conference activities have to be undertaken? Discuss their relative importance.

Conference Management Summary Form click here