Episode #067: How to start a conference w/ AppsEvents founder Dan Taylor

Ever wondered how to start a conference? Launch a seminar? Or host your own event? Then this episode is for you! After launching and selling two separate events-related companies, AppsEvents founder Dan Taylor found himself also running Google Suite educational conferences. Now, his company hosts more than 300 events globally and hosts thousands of attendees!

In this episode, we talk about how he started, how he chose the topic and curriculum for his events, and how to market an event to attract more attendees. If you’ve ever wanted to start you own conference, mastermind, seminar, etc., this episode will tell you how to launch your own event and grow it!

DISCUSSION TIMELINE

01:40 – How Dan’s first two companies led to AppsEvents
08:15 – Why he started AppsEvents, and how it expanded internationally
15:00 – Expanding, and streamlining the marketing
17:27 – Site selection, scheduling & audience acquisition tips
18:50 – Targeting the right people to attend
24:08 – Expenses for a typical conference
34:10 – How to maximize revenue
36:20 – Creating a memorable experience
41:55 – What happens when a speaker doesn’t show?
45:40 – Parting advice? Start now, keep improving!

POST GAME ANALYSIS:

Now that I’m back in the events business, I thought it was high time to interview someone about how they run a conference. Dan’s been creating and hosting conferences for years now, and has grown his business into a global enterprise. But it all boils down to creating a great experience, targeting the right people, and delivering value.

What are the biggest expenses with running a conference?

Dan mentions three main expenses: Venue, Marketing and Speakers.

His secret to saving costs is hosting them at schools, church halls, co-working spaces and similar low-cost or free locations.

He also mentions the networking. Don’t be afraid to spend money on a good networking party. Buy the drinks, provide some snacks, and keep people hanging out after the event on Day One. This helps build connections and keeps people stoked on what you’re doing.

How do you make money running a conference?

Registration fees are the most obvious source, but sponsorship can be a huge boost to your bottom line. First year events will have a harder time getting sponsors to spend much. But once you’re a proven event that has drawn an audience, it can be easier to attract paying sponsors.

Another revenue source that I’ve learned about from other event organizers is destination marketing payments. If your event can bring a lot of people (200-300 or more), the location may have a budget to help you cover some costs of your event because you’ll be bringing in a lot of people that are paying for hotel nights. It’s all about hotel nights, because those generate a lot of tax revenue for a location, as do all of the meals that people will buy while there. Major events like well known marathons can charge a location a lot of money to move their event there…check out my interview with Bob Babbit to learn more about how that works!

How to make your conference great

The product you’re selling is the sessions you’re providing. Curate great speakers, great topics and great sessions. Start the day with a keynote to kick things off with a bang! If you start slow or with a less than amazing speaker, people’s energy will be low and it takes a lot to come back from that.

Keep tea and coffee available throughout the day. And throw a great networking party at the end of day one, immediately after the close of the event. Make sure your speakers are all at the networking party, too…put that in their contract!

Dan and I are both fans of making a checklist. Think through the flow of your event, and make sure there’s a plan for every action required of you, your team and your attendees.

LINKS & RESOURCES:

Like this? Want more? Leave a comment or send me a note with what you’d like to learn more about and I’ll find a great guest with the answer! And please take a second to leave a quick review or rating for me on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher…it only takes a minute, but it helps SOOO much! Thanks!

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