Tips for Planning a Conference in Austin
With so many great venues and vendors to choose from, planning a conference in Austin might look like a cakewalk from the outside. But in reality, there’s actually an art and science to planning and producing corporate events, and it takes a team of true professionals to pull together a multi-day event that’s comfortable, useful and inspiring for a large volume of attendees. If you’re thinking about bringing your company’s conference to Austin, we’ve got some pro tips for you.
Location is key
Austin is an absolute treasure trove of great food, friendly people, beautiful spaces, imaginative entertainment, and generally excellent vibes. In the heart of it all is downtown, which is an ideal spot for your event’s epicenter thanks to its proximity to… well, everything. You can arrange a host of offsite options, indoors and out, without anyone ever having to be on a bus or shuttle for more than a few minutes (or, given downtown’s excellent walk score, perhaps even use wheels at all).
Within walking distance of the bustling Red River cultural district, the ACL Live stage, the gorgeous Lady Bird Lake, and the Texas Capitol, you can’t beat downtown’s centrality. Likewise, there’s a ton to do and see in south Austin, just a quick skip across the lake, and if you’d rather book a full-scale resort and keep your event confined within its grounds, there are plenty of phenomenal options in and around Austin, offering hill country views, championship golf courses, luxury amenities and more.
A conference doesn’t have to be boring — in fact, it shoudn’t be — so take advantage of Austin’s uniqueness and encourage your attendees to enjoy what the city has to offer.
Timing is everything
It’s no secret that Austin is an excellent place to host a conference, and thanks to the city’s stellar reputation, event space can get booked far in advance, leaving little inventory for those who don’t plan ahead. For companies with long-range planning capabilities, booking multiple years at a time can bring rates down and lock them in, resulting in considerable cost savings. Even if you’re just booking one event for the upcoming year, the rule of thumb in Austin is: the sooner you book, the better. In a place as popular as this, what’s available today may very well be gone tomorrow.
At Kennedy, we’re working now on 2020 programs, which may sound extreme but in fact isn’t at all. In March, downtown is swallowed whole by SXSW, and Formula One’s presence is felt each fall with the Grand Prix taking over the Circuit of the Americas track (not to mention a great many hotel rooms and flights). If you’re planning a conference in Austin, you might want to think of those periods of congestion as blackout dates and be sure to work around them.
Experts are your friends
The larger the venue, the more likely it is to have more than one person running interference on all the nuts and bolts of the events held there. If you’re planning something at the Austin Convention Center, for example, you’ll want to rely on its in-house team of professionals, who know all the ins and outs of holding an event in the nearly 250,000-square-foot space. And no matter where you host your event — whether it’s in one space or multiple venues — it’s critical to have a team of event production pros in your corner, connecting you with all the resources you need and overseeing thousands of moving parts.
A great event producer has rock-solid relationships with tried-and-true vendors and knows how to instantly sniff out new partners, too, so why not put those connections to use while harnessing the creative power and logistical precision of an events industry expert? Partnering with an insider who knows the best and most efficient ways to get things done is something you’ll never regret, and your event will be better for it.