There are many factors that will impact the conference timeline and initial steps to be taken when planning an event. It may also be difficult to specify exact norms for conference timelines as some events may require special lead times of up to four years due to their size, complexity or frequency. In other cases the opposite may be true and lead times may be just a matter of months. Finally what may be more important than the specific timelines, are the milestones to focus on, or the order in which planning or conference management is undertaken.

Related: Meeting Management: How to Organise a Conference with Roles Defined

Conference Timeline Outline

This step involves gathering information, bringing together the right team, and bringing this all together in order to construct the outline and picture of the event to fulfill the criteria and expectations of the parent association. Ultimately this outline would provide for content that is topical and current in terms of subject matter in order to attract the right audience and provide target and active participation levels.  As part of defining the scope of an outline, the following should be considered: 

  • Do you have the support and involvement of the related national industry/association, local academic or professional bodies as well as the Local Authorities (if applicable)?
  • What venue options are there in your locale that will provide suitable facilities to hold the conference?
  • Infrastructure and access – what is the accessibility for nationals who commonly attend the conference to the preferred location? What are the general conditions for infrastructure and logistics once the participant reach the selected destination?
  • Have the scheduled or preferred dates for the perspective conference taken into account other events or conferences occurring at the destination at the same time? Additionally have conferences organisers studied seasonal/monthly impact on the destination such as high/low seasonal periods, public or religious holidays, and any other occurrences which influence infrastructure or accessibility to the city in question?  
  • What is the availability of conference facilities and hotels for the proposed dates?  
  • When will the event be awarded and what is the process and decision making steps for bidding?  
  • Obtain written offers from key suppliers, primarily the venue which includes details of the space available, quote for facilities and what is included and excluded in the overall price.  
  • Ensure a written confirmation for a provisional booking (do not sign a contract at this stage) is put in place at the onset so that you are guaranteed the venue will be available to you.

You can find much more detailed information by downloading our White PaperHow to Plan an International Conference.

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