Home Interviews THMG133 – So You Want to Run a Hazmat Conference?

THMG133 – So You Want to Run a Hazmat Conference?


In this episode, Bob and Mike discuss planning a hazmat conference with conference organizers in Minneapolis.

Thank to our sponsor, CBRNE Convergence World 2018. This show will be held in Orlando, Florida, USA. Click here for registration information and other fantastic information.

Complete Show Notes

3:15 Initial Planning

  • Start by picking the dates and then move on to choosing the location since you have to present dates to hotels
  • At that point, they start reaching out to speakers
  • Important to choose a hotel that’s appropriate for the size of the conference and number of participants

4:45 Sponsorship and Vendors

  • Usually no more than 15 vendors present – designed to help offset costs and increase exposure
  • Vendors help sponsor different parts of conferences
  • Important to provide useful gifts that have practical applications

7:50 Working with Speakers

  • Most local people have already spoken there, so they’ll bring people in from other areas
  • This means you’ll always learn something new
  • One way to bring in new speakers is to go to other conferences
  • In the beginning, they were paying speakers $20k – they were getting great speakers, though
  • Later, their funding was cut, so they had to cut back in terms of what they can spend
  • They don’t always know what speakers are going to charge, so they’ll usually go back and forth with them beforehand
  • Participants don’t get their certifications until they complete their evaluations – this helps organizers get great speakers because they welcome negative comments
  • It’s important that speakers are entertaining the audience the whole time they’re speaking

20:00 Figuring Out Costs

  • At the beginning, it was a crapshoot – they really had no idea how to accurately calculate a budget
  • It’s gotten easier over the last 10 years and they now have a better idea of what they need
  • Meet with food and beverage people to figure out different costs, too
  • Early conferences didn’t have free Wi-Fi, which is a must for presenters
  • Always try to get your own hotel where there aren’t any other conferences happening – helps you get priority
  • In some cases, you’ll have one sponsor for the whole show – in other cases, there will be multiple sponsors
  • Headcount can be very fluid, so it can be difficult to determine what to charge participants
  • They also pay for a small umbrella insurance policy to protect against someone suing the conference or the company

30:00 Setting Up Contracts

  • In most cases, it’s just a gentlemen’s agreement in terms of contracts with speakers
  • For the past 5 years, there’s been some sort of hazmat call during the actual conference – this means those affected individuals can’t attend

32:05 Reflections on For-Profit Conferences

  • If you’re in it for the money, you’re probably not going to do very well
  • They want attendees to feel like they’re getting a great value for their money
  • Prioritize creating a great experience for attendees – this means having food, drinks, gifts, etc.
  • Also keep in mind that not everyone has the budget to afford expensive conferences
  • Open door policy – if you need something, talk to the organizers – they’re visible and will be around

36:10 Getting More Information

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  1. Good to know it’s not just us that attracts outside incidents during the event! #superstormsandy #bostonbombing #NYebola #turkishearthquake


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