A business trip has many possible purposes; a conference, executive meeting, educational visit, or as a reward for sales achievements. Regardless of your purpose in bringing your co-workers on a trip, it is important to ensure that it is a sound investment that provides long-term benefits.
Read more about the way we think under each heading below, as well as under ‘Conferences abroad’, where we provide more information on how you can transform a trip abroad from a cost into an investment.

We have also gathered together practical tips on what you should think about when planning a business trip.

Knowledgeable and experienced project manager
Planning and managing a conference project requires knowledge, time, and experience. Unfortunately, it is all too often the case that someone who does not possess this competence at all is given the assignment of ‘finding a fun conference option’. If you do not have the competence in-house, we highly recommend hiring an organiser to take the stress out of the situation, as their fee can easily be recouped through more efficient working methods and a smarter event.

Purpose and content
Decide on a clear topic for the conference. An event topic could be:
‘How we successfully reach our goals’, ‘In-service training that makes us sharper’, ‘Internal and external communication’, or ‘Strategy and business development’.
The error many people commit is that they try to squeeze too many topics and agenda items into too short a time. This may mean that the conference feels fragmented and stressed. For the participants to be able to take in the message there must be time for reflection, and a connection to the way in which the things that have been talked about can be used in everyday life. Build breathing room into the programme! Make the conference part of a long-term plan for the year, and an event at which various activities and efforts come together to form a common thread.

Carefully planned and interesting conference sessions
Set aside time to plan and make preparations! Ensure that all who will contribute are involved well in advance. Plan and think together. It is a great idea to provide basic training in presentation skills for those who will lead the sessions. External speakers, if used, should be chosen with care! The most expensive and well-known person is not always the best for your specific needs.
Make sure there is extra time in the programme so as to be able to deal with technical issues, questions, and unforeseen events. Example: You have four speakers, each of whom will speak for 30 minutes. In this case, set the total time as 2.5 hours. Never accept a speaker exceeding their allotted time. This is a sign of poor planning, and shows a lack of respect for the other speakers.


Create socialising opportunities for co-workers
It is important to get to know your colleagues on a personal level. This does not mean that everyone must be friends; rather, people have to know one another well enough to develop knowledge of the way they react to situations in their everyday lives, and to have an understanding of what their colleagues need to thrive at work. How does one ensure that this is the case at a conference?

Here are some tips:
• Mingle
A good approach is to begin the conference with lunch, a 30-minute coffee break, or an informal walk and talk. This gives everyone time to talk a little with their closest colleagues about what has happened over the last few days, which in turn helps everyone to then be able to concentrate on the programme, and be open to talking to those colleagues that they do not know particularly well.
Set aside 20 minutes at a couple of points in time during the conference days and perform a mingling exercise. This can be done in different ways, such as using conversation cards, and the purpose is to encourage everyone to talk to everyone else.

• Activities
The activities that are planned for the conference days can be anything from golf and excursions to cooking together – things that encourage people to spend time with their colleagues. This is an important perspective to remember when planning. The experiences should be fun and rewarding, but also have a purpose. This is the reason it is important to choose activities that will bring the group members together and provide them with opportunities to talk and experience things as a group. It is important to choose activities that everyone feels comfortable with, and that no one is required to participate in an activity that may be embarrassing for them. It is an excellent idea to combine conference sessions with activities and experiences! Business and pleasure in harmony create dynamic days that keep interest and energy alive.

Next time you are setting a budget for future conferences, think through the above items first and consider contacting an expert at an early stage.
Good luck!

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