Planning a conference, with keynote speakers, educational sessions, and educational materials requires more than a “we will build it, they will come” attitude.
It requires thinking about the organizations needs and then tailoring the host city to meet those needs.
Locating a Host Hotel
Fortunately, Las Vegas makes planning a business conference an easy experience. In fact, all of the materials provided by the Las Vegas Convention and Tourism Authority (LVCVA) can be a bit overwhelming. For this conference, relatively small with roughly 60 expected attendees, finding a host site willing to take a small audience was a concern. While Las Vegas easily accommodates conventions with 10,000 attendees or more, it also can cater to the needs of those conferences expecting 100 or less. We found a hotel more than willing to accommodate our small group.
The key to this conference was location. Downtown Las Vegas was chosen due to its close proximity to the US Federal Courthouse and the Regional Justice Center, two places of interest to this group. Also, the chosen hotel was close to the Mob Museum and other facilities of interest to court employees. Overall, the key to finding a good host hotel is to locate it near your other venues and to pick one able to provide exceptional banquet and meeting room services. All of these requirements can be found in Las Vegas.
Finding Exceptional Speakers and Presenters
Las Vegas attracts top-notch talent and many individuals who are considered experts make the city their home. The National Speakers Association can provide assistance in locating local speakers for your event. In addition, many thought leaders and excellent presenters based in Las Vegas can be found on LinkedIn. For instance, Sarah Evans, a self-professed digital correspondent and social media expert, is based in Las Vegas. Evans presented an engaging speech on how the judiciary can better utilize social media. Plus, because she lives in Las Vegas, her travel expenses were not an issue. However, even if a speaker must travel to Las Vegas, the numerous flights from around the world to McCarran International Airport, make bringing top talent to the city a breeze.
Look for Unique Opportunities to Engage and Entertain
The history of Las Vegas, with its ties to organized crime, and the colorful characters that made that history, are easily the best way to engage conference attendees looking to relax and unwind. In addition, the city features many world-class restaurants and bars for hosting after-conference events. In this case, the Mob Museum located downtown served as the centerpiece of an evening dinner catered in the same courtroom where many individuals were placed on trial for organized crime. CCPIO located individuals willing to answer questions and tell stories about their experiences as prosecutor and defense attorney. Placing conference attendees inside a historical venue, and then regaling them with stories from the past, made the event memorable and rewarding. Of course, there are many opportunities to make an after-hours impact, and again, many venues can be found in the Las Vegas planning guide.
Pulling Your Plan Together
Once the plan is on paper, with the sessions filled with engaging presenters and topics, the next step is to ensure everyone is ready to do business. Create engaging materials showcasing the conference and make sure everyone planning to attend is excited. The Las Vegas Convention and Tourism Authority can provide you with lapel pins welcoming your guests to Las Vegas, upon request, and can make it easy to prepare transportation tips and other information about the upcoming conference. In planning this conference, CCPIO relied on printed materials prepared by the LVCVA to direct attendees from the airport to downtown and to provide other travel tips. Information about sightseeing, tours, and shows were also provided by the LVCVA for guests planning to stay after the conference.
Measure Your Success
The next conference will be held in Indianapolis, and while that city is vastly different from Las Vegas, feedback collected from this event will aid the next host city in preparing its conference. Attendee surveys should be collected as soon as possible, whether by filling out a printed survey form or by collecting responses online. It is important to determine what worked and what could have been improved. For this conference, the results were generally positive, but we did learn a few things that could have made the conference even better.
Business can be done in Las Vegas and the city is much more than a place to play or to test the motto “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas.” A successful conference in Las Vegas can be organized to provide maximum return and engaging content while still being a lot of fun.