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”