Having just spent the last 8 weeks delegate managing four back to back conferences for a client - I came to realise how overwhelming the task could be for anyone not familiar with the process. From its time consuming nature to what seems like an overwhelming number of tasks - it can be easy to feel out of control with what’s happening to your email inbox.
So here’s my 5 step process for tackling the role head on:
1. Go digital! Whether it’s an incentive or a conference, delegate management should always start with an event website and a registration page. This could be your online presence to showcase the event and a central point to direct delegates to when you want to communicate important information. The website is there for a purpose so make sure you utilise it! A simple registration page is all you need to get your information quickly and accurately. It should be focused on making the process for the customer as smooth as possible and should be tailored to elements of the event. Booking flights for customers? Make sure you include fields for their travel dates and preferred departure airport to speed up your flight research further down the line. The other advantage of using online registration is that you can download your registrations in seconds and is easily transferrable onto your master registration list, which brings me onto...
2. Making Excel your Right Hand Man... I’m a huge fan of Excel and I’m not afraid to admit it. Everyone I know always jokes, “do you have a spreadsheet for that” (the answer is often, “yes”). It’s so versatile with so many clever features to make your job easier. I start by creating a master document that’s tailored to the event using subheadings and everything goes into this document: delegate information, rooming lists and flight information. It becomes my bible for the duration of pre planning and is an essential document to have to hand on site. You can transfer information onto it in chunks to save time and use formulas to calculate totals for your total number of registrations and rooming lists. It’s also easy to crop down and send specific information onto suppliers. When it comes to sending my rooming list, I just delete out all the irrelevant columns on their copy and send over the required information. And there’s no cross referencing, because it’s already up to date.
3. Process, process, process Being a naturally inclined ‘process’ person this step is just an extension of my natural self, but a process is essential to keeping track - regardless of whether you enjoy it. If you lose track of your process I can guarantee you will make mistakes and just end up confusing yourself. It doesn’t matter what your process is, everyone has their own style of working, but whatever you do make sure it exists!
4. Suppliers Having a good working relationship with key suppliers can make your job so much easier. I always pre warn our preferred flight agency if I know I need to start booking a large volume of flights, which means they can prepare in advance. Take note of how they operate, but also make sure that you are clear about what you need in the first instance so that they can get you the information you need in the quickest time possible. And while everything these days seems to be urgent and important, take care not to mark emails as so unless they actually are.
5. Communication is key When organising an event we always send out regular and clear communications to delegates to keep them informed. Ensure they get a message to acknowledge their registration and follow it up as soon as possible to give them a point of contact and to collect any further information that you require. We also arrange for HTML’s to be sent out closer to the event to ensure that all attendees know the final details of the event – timings, travel information and on site contacts. While delegate management is very time consuming, I find it a really rewarding process. Especially when you finally get to meet the delegates on site and you get that warm feeling when they tell you how grateful they are for your organisation.
So if this all seems a bit overwhelming for you then give us a call, because if I hear the words ‘delegate management’ you can guarantee I won’t be turning down the opportunity to get my hands on it...