Brussels, with its distinctly international flavor, famous historic monuments and memorable venues is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Europe. As host of the EU institutions, NATO headquarters, diplomatic missions, NGOs, lobbyists, press correspondents and multinational corporations, it is a unique world centre of political and economic decision-making.
Discover here below what you need to know to host your best event yet in Brussels:
1. Set your goals and objectives
First you have to define the objectives of the meeting. What do you want to achieve? What is the desired outcome? Is it raising awareness? Promoting ideas? Reaching a specific number of participants? Achieving media coverage? What is the long-term value of the event? Who is the target audience? Who are valuable speakers? What are the main messages?
2. Define budget
Preparing the budget is an essential part of event planning. It is important that you are able to predict what the event will cost. This is achieved by identifying and costing all probable expenditures and by totaling expected revenues. This should happen before setting dates, booking venues and preparing plans.
3. Setting the date is fundamental
Picking the ideal date is one of the most crucial steps when planning an event. When organising large conferences you should avoid dates with similar events in the same country or abroad, or other major events in the same city. You should check if your key stakeholders are invited to another even important event during the dates that you would like to pick.
If you plan a large international event in Brussels try to avoid this particular week in April of each year that the World Sea Food Exposition takes place. All hotels of the city are fully booked years in advance. You have to pick a date that your audience is likely to attend. Also you should avoid planning events on Friday afternoon because most of the delegates might leave earlier for the weekend.
4. Find a memorable location
Choosing the right venue is also very important when organising an event. Before hiring a venue you should check out the history of the location. Find out how many memorable events have been organised so far in order to check whether or not the venue and the staff there are event friendly. What location you should use depends on what kind of event you are planning. Is it a conference, a breakfast or lunch meeting, a seminar, a workshop, an exhibition, a press conference, a product launch or a team building activity? Here are some venues that are ideal for medium and large events:
I love the Solvay Library, a prestigious building designed in 1902 situated very close to the EU premises. It has a rich decor of precious wood, mosaics and stained glass windows.
The Flagey is a fashionable meeting place in the centre of Brussels with a special atmosphere. It is a renovated art deco building which hosted the Belgian radio in the past.
For smaller events someone can use the BELvue Museum only two minutes from Brussels Central Railroad Station. The museum’s magnificent setting is a former 18th century luxury hotel that has recently been renovated.
I like also the Museum of Natural Sciences next to the European Parliament. In this museum you’ll find meeting rooms and auditoria for conferences, workshops or seminars. For spectacular evening events you’ll appreciate the Gallery of the Dinosaurs or the Gallery of Evolution.
5. Recruit inspirational speakers and moderators
Invite famous speakers like ministers, members of the European Parliament, Nobel price winners, well known journalists, former US presidents, captains of industry, EU Commissioners, well known former politicians and former heads of States who would like to sustain your values.
If you would like to invite an MEP you should try to avoid this particular week of every month that the European Parliament meets in Strasbourg.
EU Commissioners have little time and you have to invite them long time in advance. Keep in mind that Commissioners will only come if your event is relevant to their portfolio.
In Brussels most of the conferences are debate conferences. That means that a moderator might be a wonderful and productive idea. I had a fruitful collaboration with Quentin Cooper of BBC4 who is specialised in science and research issues and can recommend him.
6. Evaluation is crucial
Event evaluation is necessary to check if set objectives are met and if organisation and logistics were efficient and effective. Event evaluation should be done immediately after the event is over. The benefits of good evaluation include providing evidence of what works and what doesn’t works.
Brussels is such a strategic city that many organisations like to put on their events here. The Belgian capital is one of the most popular destinations for conferences and meetings in Europe and is well able to handle the diversity of the requests.
Events are powerful tools and part of effective communication strategies. Successful events are those which create an added value to stakeholders by influencing the behavior of participants. A lot of creativity, time and effort need to be invested in an event in order to be commemorated as most interesting and successful.
It is a lot of work but you don’t have to do it all by yourself. Whether you want to outsource all event management and event services to us or simply need a few of the services we offer, StP Communications can help you with your next conference, meeting or corporate event. With more than 20 years of event planning experience we provide the following services:
• Venue selection and contract negotiation
• Theme development, design and implementation
• Agenda development, speaker recruitment, and content coordination
• Event logistics
• Preparation of marketing materials and onsite materials
• Delegate invitation and registration
• Budgeting and reporting
• Onsite staffing and event execution
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