The importance of how to manage delegate flow at a conference should never be underestimated. Get it wrong and even the most brilliantly-planned event with the most engaging content could quickly descend into chaos and its organiser will be left with hundreds of very disgruntled guests. There are lots of things a planner can do to make sure all of their hard work doesn’t go to waste, and it starts even before your delegates begin to flow into your venue…
Find out into which stations your guests are likely to arrive and circulate maps, written directions and Google Maps links to all of your invitees. Take the time to actually walk all of the possible routes to your venue to ensure you’re giving accurate instructions and check that all the train and tube lines are working on the day of your event.
Arrival and registration
For a large scale conference you ideally want a venue with a dedicated entrance otherwise you run the risk of your delegates getting lost in a stream of strangers. As soon as your guests arrive at the venue they need to be reassured by very clear signage that they are in the right place and they should be immediately encouraged into the registration area – either by more signage or staff showing them the way. Registration is one of the biggest potential bottle neck risks of your conference, as most of your delegates will be arriving within 15 minutes of each other. Picking up name badges, disposing of coats and bags and saying hello to acquaintances can all take its time, so make sure you throw as much man/woman power at this process as possible.
You’ll want to move your arrivals out of the registration zone as promptly as possible without them feeling rushed. A great way to do this is to serve tea, coffee and breakfast refreshments in one of your spaces that can accommodate your large numbers. It might be an idea to have serving staff circulating the area encouraging people to move through or signage making it clear where people can get something to eat and drink.
In and out of sessions
It makes sense to have breaks in between your seminars or talks. Make sure the last thing your speaker tells their audience is about the options of things there are to do before the next session starts. Clear directions to the toilets, the catering area and any outside space for people wanting a breath of fresh air will not only be useful information for your delegates, it will also hopefully encourage them to go off in different directions, easing any potential congestions in the hallways, stairs and in the lifts.
Make the most of second, or even third entrances and exits into your rooms and give everyone plenty of time in between talks to get to their next commitment. It’s worth speaking to your venue about any fire regulations and any health and safety concerns you may have about the movement of your guests. The Event Team will be able to tell you about any restrictions you need to consider.
Your guests are going to have built up quite an appetite during their sessions, so make sure food is already plated up and drinks are pre-poured at your catering stations – it’s an easy way to reduce queuing. It’s also a good idea to position poseur tables, or whatever furniture you have chosen for your breaks and meals, at the back of the room to pull your guests through the space, relieving any clustering near the food and drink. Promptly clearing away empty plates and glasses will help encourage your guests to move swiftly on to their next activity.
Delegate flow at Congress Centre
Conference organisers at Congress Centre have lots of opportunities to create a healthy delegate flow at their event. From our huge ‘brandable’ front windows, our large registration area and the adjoining foyer to our lifts and digital displays, our central London conference venue feels roomy for up to 500 delegates. Give our Event Team a call to discuss your next project on 020 7467 1318.