The Knowledge Resource for the World of Grain Handling and Processing Industry Operations

Planning a Successful Regional Conference

The responses to the following questions were taken from a panel of five speakers experienced in planning regional conferences at the Chapter Leader Workshop at Exchange 2006. The topic for the panel discussion was “Planning a Successful Regional Conference.”


Panelists (L to R in photo):
Kevin Miles (Rolfes @ Boone, GRI), Van Buchanan (Rubber Belting & Hose, GRP), Ben Lackey (Riceland Foods, MDS), Clarence Heckert (Carter Day, CPR), Ken Schmenk (The Andersons, SWY)

Discussion Questions and Answers:

1. How are regional conference planning committees formed when more than one chapter is involved?

  • “two members from each chapter are represented on the planning committee — one of those members is an Associate member”
  • “at least one representative from each chapter at the planning meeting — each chapter must have people involved”

2. How is a location selected? How is a facility selected?

  • “the site must be a central location for all chapters involved”
  • “keep it close to an airport”
  • “a place that has reasonable prices is very important”

3. How is the conference marketed? Who does the marketing?

  • “one person from each chapter was responsible for marketing the conference”
  • “take advantage of state and independent grain & feed associations”
  • “utilize the trade publications”
  • “make sure the dates of the conference are published early”
  • “email is a great medium of communication: it’s free and fast”
  • “print up professional brochures and pass them out at the Exchange to get additional exposure”
  • “wait to promote heavily after the Exchange in order to create a greater focus”

4. How are expenses and revenues shared among the chapters?

  • “each chapter contributes $1,000 up front as seed money for the conference”
  • “revenue is split evenly amongst the participating chapters”
  • “sometimes the revenue is distributed based upon the amount of work a chapter’s volunteers did in organizing the conference”

5. How is the educational program selected? How are speakers chosen and found?

  • “educational ideas came from the planning committee”
  • “solicit ideas form chapter members and major grain companies in the area”
  • “talk with company presidents and CEO’s to learn what topics should be covered at the conference”
  • “pick one topic and have speakers tailor their presentations to that topic”
  • “limit the number of paid speakers you have (one at the max)”
  • “remember to hand out evaluation sheets and use them for future regional conferences”