Organizing an IVSA event Manual
This manual is not meant to be a rulebook for Member Organizations (MOs) who want to organize an event hosting international IVSA students.
It is a booklet of tips, based on previous experience, which can be used as a general guideline for the organizers. It will give you an idea of all the steps you have to follow when you organize such an event. You should use this manual in addition to your own thoughts and ideas. Our aim is that this manual gets richer from each international event, so every IVSA member can propose additional advice or experience to the Member Organization Director (MOD, firstname.lastname@example.org).
Organizing an event means having the opportunity of:
- meeting veterinary students from other countries,
- becoming more familiar with your studies and your faculty in your country (curriculum, faculty equipment and possibilities for research work, firsthand information about student exchange possibilities, local and national student organization and their projects, sport and casual events etc.), so as to share this information with the visiting IVSA members.
- becoming aware of national programs and events related to veterinary medicine in your country
- promoting your IVSA MO inside and outside your faculty,
- making new connections, building networks with institutions which may be important for your association’s work.
- involving new active students in your association,
- informing participants about the history and sights of your country,
- informing participants about the culture and religion of your country,
- introducing participants to the social life of your country,
- getting new life experiences,
- training your management and organization skills,
- making new friendships,
- and many other reasons, professional and personal...
Pre-prepartion: The Decision to Organize an Event
We want to organize an event
This decision can be taken by an entire MO board or one delegate during a Symposium or Congress, or any time during the year.
At the beginning there is usually an idea of one or more students who want to have a new experience. The decision can even be taken by only one delegate, he/she would then be responsible to make a good team.The OC will not necessarily be composed of MO Board members, but it is important that they collaborate on the advertizing of the event and contacts with the ExCo.
The aim of organizing an international event is to invite your fellow students from different countries to attend an event at your faculty.
This will give you a chance to meet new people with new ideas, different opinions on current issues and to practice your English. Besides, this will give foreign people the opportunity to discover a new topic linked to veterinary medicine, to discover how veterinary medicine is taught in the country they visit, and to discover a new country, another student life.
When you have decided that you want to be the one who’ll go the extra mile to give foreign students an opportunity to broaden their horizons through an international event, now it is time to get inspiration from many student conferences that happen every year.
Getting inspiration from other international events
What can you benefit from studying previous international events?
- You can get new ideas, hints and tips on almost every aspect of the event.
- Each event is normally followed by an evaluation document: this document describes what participants have appreciated and which points in each event could be improved: this will permit you to avoid making mistakes that have already been made.
- You may contact previous OC teams: they can help you and give you their feeling about the event they have organized, their good and bad experiences and everything that could be useful to improve the organization.
Organizing such an event is a real challenge, so don’t give up at the beginning, don’t be afraid to try something new that could even be more interesting and funnier than everything that has been done before. There is not a standard event, so use your imagination, and get experience from previous international events.
First steps: Setting up the Organizing Committee and getting support
You have to define whether your MO is motivated enough to set up an Organizing Committee (OC).
The first step is presentation of the idea to the members. The “initiative team” must now present the idea within their local organization, during a local MO meeting during which the idea should be discussed, around a nice buffet to set up a friendly atmosphere in the team.
Before you go to this meeting, prepare yourself for the presentation: a PowerPoint presentation should sum up the main objectives for this event and your first ideas as regards activities during the congress. This presentation meeting should be organized after having defined the objectives in the “initiative team”.
Remember that enthusiasm and ambition are contagious. So, try to convince your MO about the importance of this event and how amazing this experience could be for everyone.
This meeting should lead to the setting up of an OC, to the development of the idea and the preparation of a list that details possible solutions for the problems that might emerge during the organizational period.
The second step is getting support from the students of your MO and from your faculty. You will need at least 7 people (depending on the size of the event) in your organizational team plus 5 – 7 additional for technical support and logistics. So, you need 12 – 14 people in the OC working on the project. It is important to have very motivated people, and people who will have enough free time because lot of work will have to be done during the organizational period and everyone has to be aware of this.
It’s also almost compulsory to get the support from your faculty as they are most likely the ones letting you use the meeting rooms, dormitories, and necessary equipment.
The Dean may make a welcoming speech, and the professors can take part in the conferences as lecturers or can support you using their own contacts. You should therefore make an official presentation of your project to your Dean and professors, to encourage them to take part in this event. You should also convince them of the seriousness of this event and that your team is able to conduct the organization of the event.
Defining your goals and objectives
You have to define the goals of the OC team, and to divide these goals into individual objectives for each member of the OC team.
- What do we want to accomplish?
- Why do we want to organize such an event?
- Does this represent a personal challenge for us or is it something else?
It is very important for the OC team and for each member of the OC team to define the goals of their tasks: it represents the starting point for the setting up of the project and its evaluation.
An approximate date of achievement should be decided for each objective. Those goals should not be changed then. They should be written in a document each member of the OC team has access to, and you should start working towards these objectives as soon as possible. This paper should be presented as a calendar of the preparation period. The defined objectives will be used as indicators to evaluate the event in the analysis period.
Besides, if you apply for a Congress or a Symposium, your objectives and plan should be clearly defined, so as to be sure you can succeed in organizing such an event, which is a big responsibility.
Defining the OC Team
Each position in the team must be given to a person who has huge motivation, but also experience and knowledge. If some members of the OC Team have participated in previous international events, Congresses, Symposia, or group exchanges, their experience will be all the more valuable. It is important to define who is the most competent for each position, but also to take into consideration the wishes of everyone. Give everyone the task she/he is wishing for as she/he will most likely do it very good. Avoid giving tasks to individuals who don’t like it as this can cause problems for the entire team. You will also encounter the case when several people want to do the same task: you should select people who are truly prepared to work. All the other applicant persons for OC team can help you around smaller tasks during the event, since before and during the event, the OC will need a lot of support and help for the organization from members of the local MO.
Each person of the OC Team should gather a few student members of your MO, who are ready to help them in their personal tasks, before and during the event.
Head of the OC Team
This position requires a responsible person. Usually it is better to have a student in the later years of their course, because they have more contacts in the faculty, and more experience, even if younger students can be head of OC Team.
He/she should be able to deal with the different opinions of team members. He/she should be well aware of everyone’s task. He/she should also be the one to represent the OC, especially to Deans and partners, so this person should have the capacity to support and defend the project in front of important partners.
He/she should be able to deal with the different opinions of team members. He/she should be well aware of everyone’s task.
He/she must have authority and use it at appropriately: neither too authoritarian, nor too permissive. However, he/she should not underestimate the team and should not think of him/herself as the unique leader. He/she has to have a sense for teamwork. He should be good at encouraging the OC team when the spirits are down, and give both positive feedback and constructive criticism to the OC.
He/she will take control over the situation as soon as she/he sees that there is a problem.
He/she is the head of the entire team and the one who takes the final decisions.
He/she should know how to advise the members of his/her team.
He/she should have the ability to delegate tasks fairly between the OC members.
- Being responsible for the whole organization.
- Being the contact person for the event: he should be the one to contact for external persons.
- Executing all the tasks of the organization team.
- Checking and validating the lists of needed materials.
- Being available for the members of her/his team for help and advice.
- Listening to everyone’s ideas and being open to new suggestions for the event.
- Organizing regular meetings of the Heads of Teams: making the point of what has been done and what still has to be done, and matching everyone’s work.
- He/she calls and chairs meetings of the whole OC team when necessary to assess progression and to connect as a group (less frequent than the head of teams meetings)
- Giving tasks to her/his team.
- Setting up a schedule of the event (in cooperation with the whole OC team).
- Motivating the team: he/she should not hesitate to give rebukes in case of problems.
- Dealing with conflicts inside the team in case they emerge.
- After the conference, evaluating the organization and drafting of the final report of the event.
Head of finances: Treasurer
The treasurer needs to be familiar with the management of a budget, and the management of bank accounts.
He/she also has to have good language skills as he is one of those who will be in contact with possible sponsors and donors. He/she has to be precise and economical as the management of finances has to be perfectly transparent. The finances should always stay positive and not be below zero.
The most important task is to draw up the budget and to gather the funds needed for the event. The whole OC team will help him as regards finding contacts for sponsorship. He/she will have to work with the whole OC team to define a budget for each aspect of the event (accommodation, food, conferences, visits, transport...).
He/she coordinates the needs (financial, material) of other members of the team, and should organize the budget in relation to those needs. With the available resources she/he tries to satisfy as many needs as possible.
He/she should be able to present a provisional budget to the MOD when presenting the event for accreditation, and also a plan as regards finances (sponsors...).
Individual tasks are:
- Being in charge of finances before, during and after the event
- Collecting and keeping all the proofs of delegates’ payments
- Being in charge of the day to day expenses during the event
- Being responsible for the security of the common purse
- Setting up the final financial report after the end of the event.
The Secretary will be responsible for all the administrative tasks, and the official letters.
He/she is responsible for collecting applications of delegates and for choosing the delegates that will participate.
Individual tasks are:
- Taking minutes during each meeting of the OC Team
- Preparing the application form, collecting the application, and being in contact with future delegates
- Preparing all the official papers: official requirements, insurances...
Head of Itinerary
His/her job will consist of preparing the entire Itinerary of the event. This means he/she has to plan every event from the morning to the evening. She/he can conduct this task with the help of the team, but he/she is the one responsible for the schedule.
Individual tasks are:
- Preparing the schedule for every day.
- Contacting the lecturers, the participants of round tables, the Dean...
- Informing the Head of technical support about the needs as regards meeting rooms, rooms for the meals...
- Planning the evening events, and therefore making the reservations required.
- Informing the Head of accommodation about the place meals should take place.
- Being responsible for a contingency plan in case lecturers cancel their attendance at the last minute.
- Being responsible for communicating the itinerary to delegates at the beginning of the event, and on a day-to-day basis
Head of accommodation
This person will be responsible for the logistics regarding accommodation and food.
Individual tasks are:
- Finding a place to stay for about 20 - 120 participants (depending on the event).
- The accommodation must be cheap and should offer as much as possible, the attention has to be focused on cleanliness and the welcome from the hostel/hotel/… responsible. Avoid, if possible, accommodating your participants in different locations around the city as this will be a big problem for the Head of transportation.
- Participants will appreciate it if the accomodation provides free wifi, and a bathroom included in their room.
- You can accomodate the delegates in students rooms at your faculty; it is often very much appreciated by the delegates to experience how you live at the veterinary school.
- The room matching will be made by the head of accomodation: it is important to be careful about mixing genders (ask delegates in advance) and the nationality of the people staying together: it is better to mix nationalities, to help people to get to know each other.
- Making reservations early enough. Make sure that with the closing date for applications chosen you will have enough time to make the reservation.
- Working closely with the Secretary who will give the exact number of participants.
Head of food
This person will be responsible for the logistics regarding providing the food and all meals during the event. Food can be very easily a subject of complaint from delegates so it is very important to prepare this aspect of the event very carefully.
Individual tasks are:
- Making reservations for breakfasts, lunches and dinners, including the departure day. Add to the number five additional meals, just in case. And don’t forget that the organizers need food too. You should consider different options for food, ask for a cost estimate, and choose the best option.
- Be careful of the amount of food planned in each meal. When delegates have long days full of many activities, they often need a great amount of food. Plan regular snacks for delegates who want to eat during the day between the meals.
- Always ask the delegates in advance about their food preferences and allergies: you may need to prepare vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, lactose-free... meals. Make sure to ask those delegates about what they can exactly eat or not eat.
- Also pay attention to the delegates who are following ramadan: you should be able to provide them with enough food and drinks before sunrise and after sunset.
- Check if everything is OK regarding the reservations a few days before the event. Make sure that the accommodation and restaurant management are prepared for the arrival of students.
- Don’t forget to provide free water to the participants as regularly as possible, especially if tap water is non drinkable.
- Make a schedule for how many meals per day, and for the right number of persons
- Make a preliminary budget for the food, together with the head of finances
- Gather offers from different places and companies providing food, and go through them with head of finances to be sure to stink to the budget.
- Work with the head of accommodation to define where the meals should be delivered/ if there are cooking facilities at the site of accommodation.
Head of transportation
This person will be responsible for all tasks regarding transports of the participants during the event. This task includes all the transport of participants around the city during the event. It also includes transport from/to airport, train station, etc.
Individual tasks are:
- Organizing the arrival of the delegates; it is a very problematic task because they will all arrive at different times and different locations (airport, train station...). This means you need to have enough people and means of transport to transport the delegates to the accommodation. You should ask every delegate in advance about the time and place of their arrival and their departure.
- Organizing transport from accommodation to the faculty and back is quite easy as it takes place at the same hours every day, and you already have all the delegates in one place. Using public transport is the easiest way: you have to make sure to give the participants the right number of tickets.
- Organizing transport for sightseeing: you have to work on that point with the head of program. If you plan a trip outside the city and visit some distant places, then you should rent a bus to take the participants for a field trip.
- It can be sometimes easier to rent a bus for the whole event, in which case it is very easy to move all the delegates from one place to another. It is important to keep in mind that moving 40 persons from a place to another can take 2-3 times the time it would take for 1-2 people to move.
- The head of transportation is also in charge of evaluating the times for each transport to go from one place to another.
Head of technical support
This person will be responsible for all the rooms and technical material needed for the event. For successful conduction of this task she/he should have 4-5 people helping her/him (depending on the type of event).
Individual tasks are:
- Booking and preparing the meeting rooms in time
- Making sure that the audio-video equipment is working properly, checking if the internet connection is of good quality…
- Being responsible for the materials available for each conference or meeting or activity
- Being responsible for all the papers that will be distributed to the organizers and to the delegates.
- Providing the white board, markers, pens… for the delegates.
This person will be responsible for everything linked to the website of the event. It is important to develop the website in advance, and keep it up-to-date regularly since it is the image of the event. A page on social networks is also important to develop, since the information comes very fast through those medias and delegates are looking forward to such pages.
Individual tasks are:
- Creating the website of the event. It should be as welcoming as possible, provide as much information about the event as possible, and be easy to use. It should be at least in English. The website is the reflection of the seriousness of the event, and it reflects how involved you are in the preparation of the event. Don’t forget it’s the first thing future delegates will see if they are interested in this event and it should give them motivation to apply.
- Maintaining and refreshing the home page of the event
- Being in charge of the outlook of the page. Individual Heads will provide the Webmaster the content for the home page, and the Webmaster will have to shape it in the best-looking way.
- Creating the Twitter and/or Facebook page and having it up-to-date.
Head of public relations
This person will be responsible for everything linked to communication, with sponsors, local journalists, and future delegates. If you want to be mentioned in the media then you need your PR team. The head of public relations will work in collaboration with the webmaster regarding the advertisement of the event online and providing sponsors visibility for their brand online.
Task of this team:
- Getting in touch with journalists or reporters and keeping them informed about your event (lectures, round tables, etc.).
- Prepare special papers about the event for journalists and make sure that they can access the conferences.
- Especially if no journalist can follow the event, there should be a photographer in the PR team, so as to make a summary of the event, at least to be included in the IVSA Journal. Anyway, there should be at least one photographer to catch the most “souvenirs” possible.
- They should work with the Treasurer so as to prepare a presentation of the project of the event, so as to look for sponsorship. The search for sponsors should be organized between the public relations responsible and the treasurer. It is very important to search for sponsorship a long time in advance since sponsorship contracts can take a long time to be settled up.
Other important information as regards the OC Team
The tasks described are a minimum. Depending on your needs, you may have additional people in charge of special other tasks. You can also organize the assignment of the tasks differently amongst people; the most important thing is that every task must be fulfilled.
If you're organizing big events, it might be desirable to have a head of Food, because it's a major job, closely linked to both finances and accommodation.
- Make a schedule for how many meals per day, and for the right number of persons
- Make a preliminary budget for the food, together with the head of finances
- Gather offers from different caterers, and go through them with head of finances
- Work with the head of accommodation to define where the meals should be delivered/ if there are cooking facilities at the site of accommodation.
Everyone needs to be a team player and should not have problems with authority. Organization of such an event requires a clear division of tasks. Keep in mind that organizing such an event is a big responsibility for the OC Team, who have to be involved enough all through the preparation period.
Some of the tasks mentioned above take less time than others. Therefore, all team members should work together and help each other in fulfilling their tasks. But be careful while helping others, because you must not neglect your tasks for the sake of helping others. If the personal relations within the team are good then the work inside the team should be perfect.
It is important that each member of the OC team cares about what everyone is doing. You need to be flexible and adjustable, especially in case one of the team members has problems with fulfilling his/her tasks (illness, absence of the person in charge, etc.).
Important facts to define
The following information should be clear and defined as early as possible.
What kind of the event do you want to organize: workshop, congress…?
You need to define that point because once you have decided this issue, you know who you can invite, and you can define a “title” for your event.
The theme : You also need to specify the scientific program so that you can contact the lecturers you want to take part in the event. The first questions the lecturer will ask you are “What kind of lectures are you expecting, relating to the theme of the event?” and “What do you want me to talk about?” He/she needs to know these objectives in order to prepare him/herself for the event and to evaluate if he/she is the right person to talk about the suggested subject. This specification will also help you to contact the right lecturers in time.
Once you have specified the theme of the event, you know which lecturers to invite. As you are the organizer, you are in charge of who to invite and who not to. It’s always interesting to invite international representatives (from other international associations) to be observers or honorary guests during the event, and delegates often appreciate the opportunity to discuss with them as well. You should invite students from your faculty, and professors from your faculty to assist the lectures.
How to promote your event to all students?
You should contact the MOD before promoting your event, to obtain ExCo accreditation of your event. The approval of the event will be decided by an ExCo vote during an ExCo meeting (live or online); a majority of votes in favor within the ExCo will be needed. Please be aware that the ExCo meetings occur every 1 or 2 months, so plan in advance the request for accreditation. For IVSA accreditation, you have to present the following documents :
- the itinerary of the event, including the scientific program, the cultural program and the social program.
- the number of delegate places
- the fees
- details about the application period
- details about budgets and sponsors.
Therefore it is important to define all this practical information a long time in advance (at least 6 months before the event is due to be held).
Then, the MOD will send all the details about your events to EOs and Presidents in the monthly EO bulletin and will inform delegates about the event during the next Congress or Symposium. The MOD should also promote the event via Facebook and Twitter. The PRC will publish the presentation of the event on the IVSA website.
Once your event has been approved by the ExCo (and not before!), you should prominently display the official IVSA logo on all promotional material used to advertise your event.
You should take advantage of any students you have met during previous IVSA events to help you promoting the event in their MO. You should also personally invite all EOs through an email, to be sure that they are aware of this event so that they promote your event in their MOs.
Where will the event be held?
You should decide on the main location of the event. If your MO gathers different faculties, you can choose only one faculty, or organize a rotation between several faculties during the stay of the delegates. In that case, be aware that transportation from one place to another can take a lot of time, as well as packing and unpacking. You should therefore take those times into consideration when preparing the itinerary. However, visiting different sites is often very appreciated by the delegates. The best place to organize all the lectures is your faculty (you will of course need the support of your dean); besides, the delegates will be expecting to visit your faculty, and the budget can be lower because you won’t have many expenses for the rent of meeting and lecture rooms. If you can’t organize the event at your faculty, or if it isn’t the best place to host the delegates, you should find a cheap hostel or hotel with a meeting room large enough to have all delegates in it, and an efficient internet connection. It can be very practical to have the delegates accommodated at the same place as the lecture room since it avoids some transportation.
When will the event occur?
You can find the best date for everyone by asking all EOs about the best date(s) for their MO, so as to maximize the chances of having a greater number of participants. The date should also be chosen after studying your faculty’s timetable; you should prefer periods when your school’s students have some vacations and avoid exam periods. You also need to be careful not to organize your event at the same time as some other event (in the case of an IVSA Symposium or Congress, this is not allowed!) that may already be scheduled. The MOD will therefore inform you about the feasibility of your choice regarding the dates.
How long should the event last?
There is no set rule for this point. Ideally, the event should last at least 7 days because delegates coming from very far won’t be interested in coming if the period is shorter. However, the event shouldn’t be too long. Remember that we are all students who have obligations and cannot afford longer absences from school. Besides, it is better to make an event of quality that doesn’t last too long, rather than organizing a very long event during which there won’t be many activities because of the lack of finances.
You should open the application period at least four to five months before the event takes place (depending of what kind of event it will be). This should give you enough time to prepare the event well, and enough time for delegates to plan their trip to your country. The application period should last at least one month.
You should close the application period at the latest one month before the beginning of the event. When you decide the closing date of the application period, you should take into consideration the time it will take you to make all the necessary arrangements as regards accommodation, meals, transport or even to cancel the event due to a lack of applications. Finally, remember that some participants need a visa, so you should also provide them enough time to get their visa.
It is very important to ask the participants to send their applications in on time.
The presentation of the applications
In the presentation of your event, on your website, and in the official invitation to your invitation, you have to give some important information:
- Details about the event: where, when, which theme, the planned schedule: the objective is to motivate students to take part in your event
- Who can apply to participate
- Who is the organizer: you should make a presentation of the OC team
- The deadline for applications: it should be highlighted
- How many applicants per MO will be accepted
- The fees for the event (should include all accommodation, food, transportation and activities)
- Special requirements
- Main contact if they have some questions
- A questionnaire of application - the applicants should give the following details: full name, gender, birth, year at school, address, email address, phone number, emergency details (name and phone number of the person to contact), passport number, any information about health, any information about special diet. The applicant should also enclose a motivation letter.
How many applicants per MO?
You have to decide on the number of applicants from each IVSA MO: the most important criterion for selection is the nationality and you should aim to maximize the number of different nationalities attending. You will then decide on additional criteria to select the delegates if the number of applicants exceeds the maximum number of delegates. You can refer to the Congress or Symposium OC Manual to have more details about this. The MOD is responsible for the applications at the Congresses and Symposia therefore he/she can help you defining criteria for the selection of delegates.
Individual Supportive Members (ISMs) may attend IVSA Congresses and Symposia. Student ISMs may apply for other events too. It is up to the MO(s) involved in organizing Local Events to decide whether non-student ISMs may apply.
The MOD is responsible for applications of Congresses and Symposia therefore he/she can help you defining criteria for the selection of delegates. The Development Aid Director (DAD) can help you to define who is more eligible for a scholarship.
As a guideline, the fees shouldn’t exceed 250 euros. This cost should cover all accommodation, food, transportation and activities.
You are allowed to add optional activities requiring an extra cost for delegates, but this should not occur more than twice in the itinerary.
To avoid incurring large additional transfer fees for the delegates paying their fees, the OC should investigate the possibilities of low-cost online payment methods, such as paypal, as alternatives to bank transfers. The OC should always search for the method of collecting payments that most minimizes the fees delegates have to pay.
Official Invitation Letters
The official invitation letter is the document which certifies that you officially accept this participant as a delegate of your event.
The participant will use that letter to ask for the visa at the embassy, to ask for permission to miss classes, etc.
This letter should mention: full name, surname, address, date of birth, sex, the theme of the event, and should clearly state that the participant is officially accepted as a participant of your event. You should take inspiration from the invitation letters sent for previous Congresses and Symposia.
You should let participants know what you expect from them so that they can be prepared for that (you can include this information in the application form). It means for example warning them about some kind of behavior that should be prohibited, in relation with your country’s habits... Sending at least one month in advance a "What-to-bring list" is very important and expected from the delegates.
The Organizational Tasks
You should collect ideas about the program, brainstorm about accommodation, food, visits, interesting topics for discussions or lecturers, trips, evening and sport events during meetings where the WHOLE OC Team is present.
Then, all the different tasks will be equally divided between each member of the OC Team.
Management of the OC Team
This is the most time consuming task in the whole project and the Head of the OC Team must be totally dedicated to this task, and ready to take on this responsibility.
He/she will be supervising the whole preparation process. The Head of OC Team needs to divide tasks among the members of the OC Team properly so that everyone feels OK with the tasks they have to do. He/she needs to evaluate the progress of the different tasks, and take proper measures in case of problems.
As management is quite difficult, especially for students, the rest of the team shall be conciliatory and motivated. By using initiative and different skills within the group, they can contribute a lot to the management.
It is also easier if the members of the team don’t need constant guidance in their tasks: initiative has to be encouraged.
The first thing to do is to prepare a budget and see how much money you will need. You should think of all the expenses and also of the possible incomes. The biggest expense for your budget will be accommodation and meals.
The hardest part is getting sponsorship. Do not look just for the financial support, think also about other non-financial help, such as goodies, food from supermarkets, free visit to a factory; some companies can offer or arrange a lunch or a dinner, some other companies could be interested in paying the costs of a trip or offering you accommodation, another one could give you some presents for your guests, arrange interesting lectures… You can also provide some companies visibility on your website, e.g. with a banner ("XX helped us in the organization of this successful event").
You have to offer them something interesting to get a sponsorship. Think about it and try to find answers to the following questions:
- Do you have any company in your country that could be interested in vet students?
- Do they produce only for your country or also for other parts of the world?
- Do they have a smaller factory in other countries or are they planning to have one?
- Which countries are on their list or in their plans, where do they have to improve their marketing? Invite people from those countries?
- Do they own any hotels or restaurants…? Do they produce food?
Now you have found the companies you want to ask for sponsorship, you have to find ideas to propose them, so that they find it is a good opportunity for them to sponsor your event.
Ask them about the possibilities of:
- Visiting their company
- Organizing a lecture and/or a round table debate on a specific topic
- Having lunch in their canteen or restaurant for free
- Hosting delegates in their hotel during the trip, for free or at a discounted price
- Renting you a car, a van, a bus, etc.
But there are more opportunities than just companies. Think further and consider state institutions, faculties, associations...
- Do they have any conference room(s) they could lend you?
- There shouldn’t be any difficulties in arranging for your faculty to lend you classrooms for the conference (audio-video equipment included). Usually the faculty is the first sponsor you can find. Don't forget to thank them in the booklet.
- If you have a school restaurant at the faculty, you can arrange with your faculty a free or discount lunch for your guests.
- Your teachers can give you some interesting contacts who could become involved and give a lecture for free. Your teachers can also be invited to give a lecture, and will most probably arrange that for free, even if you should think of a present and a certificate to thank them at the end of the lecture.
- Think of the promotion of your country (promotional material such as maps, sights of your country, sport and cultural events in that period, souvenirs…): therefore tourist offices, travel agencies, youth or sport minister can be helpful and could be interested in supporting your event
- Stores or restaurants could get you a discount or some free drinks, or food by sponsoring one excursion, one meal, one conference or one evening.
- Think about parents and friends of the OC members: maybe they know somebody who can help you, or maybe they run a company that could sponsor your event.
When you are looking for a sponsorship you have to keep in mind that you are not the only one asking for financial or any other help, so you have to give many good reasons to show the company that you are the one they should sponsor, and give them a strong sponsorship presentation of your event, emphazising the important parts of the events (the educational part is usually the most appreciated).
A few ideas about what you can offer them:
- Wearing a T-shirt with their logo during an entire activity,
- Having their logo on your website
- Providing a visibility for their brands for the delegates (international visibility) and for the students of your faculty.
- Providing them the opportunity to have their logo in a banner shown during a lecture.
- Allowing them to come and present one of their products during a lecture.
- Feel free to find new ideas!!!
You should have a brainstorming session of the whole OC team to get some ideas for the different activities you will propose to delegates during the event. Collect as many ideas as possible and discuss them later on. You can also include sport events, sightseeing, visit of the school etc. Start getting in touch with possible lecturers as soon as possible because their schedule is often very busy.
Prepare a plan in case of bad weather or a delayed event. You also need a contingency plan in case lecturers cancel their attendance at round tables or lectures. Have a plan A and a plan B and possibly plan C for the schedule. Anything that can go wrong MUST have a back-up plan, including events such as transportation breaking down, as well as plans to deal with any health risk, e.g. heat stroke in hot countries, and knowing the location of nearby hospitals.
Don’t forget to include breaks, meals and returns to the hotel in the program as participants always like a few breaks when a week is filled with many activities. Think that people need some free time to visit the city on their own, but also to rest. Try to involve as many students as possible from your faculty in this event. Having a student party in your program might be a good idea, since social events help delegates to get to know each other.
Keep in mind that if the itinerary is too tight, you may get delays and have to cancel some activities, so don't plan an itinerary which would be too tight. Also keep enough time for delegates to sleep and don't schedule the wake up time too early because such events are often very tiring for the delegates.
Smoking in any venue in which non-smokers are present is strongly discouraged, both because of the cultural sensitivities of delegates from countries in which this is not normal, and the possibility of causing breathing difficulties in asthmatic delegates.
Introducing the OC at the start of the event and getting all OC members to wear easily recognisable t-shirts or sweaters as a “uniform” throughout the event is recommended.
Ideas for activites (nothing is compulsory):
- Cultural evening: it is a good occasion to discover every delegates' local food and drinks
- Formal Dinner: Delegates appreciate to dress formerly in a nice restaurant. It is also the occasion to invite partners, sponsors, and officials from your faculty to attend a part of the event.
- White T-Shirt Party: it can often be organized at the end, as a farewell party
- Development Fund auctions: you can organize auctions to contribute to the IVSA Development fund projects. Each delegates has to bring items which will be sold during silent and/or live auctions and the money collected will be transfered to the Development Fund Account. Please contact the Development Aid Director about this..
Food and accommodation
When you know the number of people that will participate at the event, you will be able to arrange the accommodation. Try to find something nice and reasonable as regards the price. Sometimes during the holidays in some faculties, students’ rooms are empty, so consider this option to host the delegates. Think also about possibility to host your guests in your own homes before or after the event. Make sure that there are enough rooms reserved for your guests.
If you have planned the meals at the hotel, inform the hotel restaurant of any participants with special dietary requirements or allergies. If you are eating somewhere else, get in touch with the restaurant manager and make reservations for each meal.
Before you make a reservation make sure that they have the capacity to accept and feed all the participants at the same time. Try to arrange a special price or a discount as meals are one of the biggest expenses. The delegates will appreciate not always eating in the same place, so use several restaurants if it is possible.
Just remember that IVSA people like to have delicious meals and they will appreciate discovering your traditional food.
Don’t forget to plan a Cultural Evening at the beginning of the event, so that everyone can share his or her traditional food.
The Head of transportation must be in contact with Secretary (or the person responsible for applications) to see when and how will participants arrive so that he/she makes the arrangements to have someone to pick up each delegate.
The best thing to do is to make a list of delegations arriving by plane, by train, by bus or by car (four different lists). Write down the arrival hours and start planning how many people and vehicles you will need for the transport.
Prepare special “waiting boards” with the list of all the delegates, and give them to the people who’ll pick up the delegates and transport them to their accommodation.
Arrange transport around the city via public transport or via rented bus. If you rent a bus it will be faster and easier to transport delegates from the hotel to the faculty and back - but it will probably be more expensive.
The Head of Technical Support and his/her team are the one who come to the faculty every day an hour or so before the beginning of the events and start preparing the classrooms for conferences. They prepare the audio – video equipment (if needed), prepare the seats for the delegates, the attending professors, guests…
During the event, the Head of Technical support will also be in charge of buying all the needed material (paper, pencils…) and preparing drinks and food for coffee breaks.
Other general information for all members of the OC team
All OC members should be in touch with the guests. Let them know what they can expect from visiting you, give them some basic data about your country, your faculty, your money, the weather you may have during their stay.
You should create a special mailing list and a Facebook group for all the participants and regularly send them information concerning the event.
It is absolutely necessary that two weeks before the event starts, you send the participants information about the weather, the money, how to get around, the telephone numbers of the OC team and the telephone number of the person that will pick them up at their arrival, phone number for cabs, how to use public transport, links to airports, railway station, web pages of the hosting city.
You should also make cards or badges with the name of each delegate and his country. A “welcome pack” will be appreciated by the delegates.
On the process of organization: Supervision of the organizational tasks
The OC Team should check at least every week what has been done and what is still to be done
The Head of OC team has to set up regular meetings for her/his team. The main issue to be debated on these meetings will be to check what has already been done, what is in the process and what needs to be done in the future.
Tasks that are already finished can be temporarily “closed” and you can redirect persons who worked on these tasks to other tasks taking more time, or requiring more persons. Checking what has already been done enables you to see if you are on time for the preparation of the event.
Even if you have to change your preparation schedule during the preparation time, you always have to check everything will be done in time, to be sure not to forget any point of the organization. If you come across some task that needed to be done weeks ago, don’t panic. Discuss with your team and set up a plan to emphasize the best way to fulfill those tasks.
Is it more important to come up with much needed funds or to prepare the exact program of the event? Be flexible and be prepared to miss parts of your timetable in order to keep up with the schedule in the later stages. That’s why the whole OC should have a lot of free time, and not be in an exam period.
Prepare a list of priority tasks and dedicate these tasks to a huge team. But be aware not to stop with all the other activities, as this would cause another delay on these fields. You shouldn’t neglect any point of the organization.
On the first day the organizers should plan to be at the faculty up to 2-3 hours before the arrival of the participants. Try to respect the schedule, not allowing too many delays. Try to avoid delays, and if the OC Team is always on time, the delegates will be motivated to be on time.
You should have everything arranged several days before the start; this will permit you to deal with any problems happening at the last moment.
Prepare a special place in your office where you’ll put the materials, all the papers (welcome packs, program, presentations of lecturers, presents to thank the lecturers…).
Make sure to allow the access to the material only for the members of your team, so as to avoid stolen material.
Preparation of the arrival of the participants
You should prepare in advance the list of the exact arrival times of participants and provide enough persons and vehicles to escort them to the place of the event. It is very important not to forget to pick up a delegate.
Prepare something to drink and eat for the participants at their arrival, and be ready all day to welcome them as some delegates will come early in the morning and some late in the evening. Some delegates will probably come a day or two earlier to visit by themselves. You should have some people at your disposal to guide participants around the city and keep them busy, but also to host them (at a student’s location). You should also have one or two students available to take the delegates who want to exchange money to the exchange office. You can also start the DF collecting on the arrival day (if you are planning to organize a DF auction during your event).
After those long weeks of preparation, your guests are finally here. Even if the preparation has been tiring, you should always be very welcoming, smile, and show them you are acting as professionals. The first contact with them should be a warm welcome. Try to give the participants the chance to relax when they have just arrived, because travel can be very tiring, and prepare them for the event by presenting them with the detailed schedule and providing them information about their accomodation. Delegates will appreciate having access to their rooms on arrival.
However, you should also be prepared for some unpredictable problems during the event; you should be reactive and try to find a solution as quickly as possible. The delegates shouldn’t feel there is a problem.
It is always nice to have the organizers present for the different activities, but it’s sometimes hard to achieve this, as there is always a lot of work to be done behind the scenes. A minimum number of the members of the OC team must be present at the faculty early in the morning, and all day with the delegates. The person responsible for the conferences should come early and check if everything is OK and make some moderate changes if needed.
Make sure that everybody knows when they should be at the faculty on each particular day, and where their help is required. You can allow breaks for each member of the OC team, but they have to be planned in advance to be sure you have enough members of the OC Team available at any time.
Every morning, you should have an “OC Breakfast” to discuss the previous day, what went right and what went wrong during the day, what were the difficulties, how to improve your work and if some changes should be made for the coming days. The role of everyone for the next day should also be discussed. This meeting could also be organized every evening, after dinner and before the party. It is important to go through the program of the next day and see what you need to prepare to make it through the day successfully.
You should always have someone to welcome the lecturers and bring them to the lecture room (usually that person should be the one who made contact with lecturers and arranged their attendance). You should offer lecturers coffee, food, and a bottle of water.
Execution of the schedule
Be sure that all participants have a paper with the program and are aware of the program, and remind them every day about all the details. Be available in case of any questions.
If you have to modify the program, let delegates know about the changes as far in advance as possible. Every day, write the itinerary of the following day on a big board visible to all delegates so that they know if any change was made.
In the particular case of a Congress or Symposium, the OC team should cooperate with the ExCo and work together like one team during the event to make the event successful. All the process of preparation for a Congress or a Symposium will be made in close cooperation with the ExCO.
Ending the event
Departure of participants – don’t forget to thank all participants for attending the event and give them a certificate of participation.
Make sure you have the departure times of all the delegates, and arrange the transports to the airport and the train station.
You can also offer them a picture of all the delegates and the OC together, or a USB key with all the photos of the event. You can organize a small buffet around which everyone is gathered one last time before leaving.
Wish everyone a safe and calm trip back home, and make sure that everyone catches their plane, train or bus.
Finally, after all the cleaning up of the material, and the rooms, you can lay back and relax. You certainly deserve it for all you have done during those last weeks.
Now all you have to do is to record all the relevant documents (this way you have everything prepared for the next event and you can offer that to the next OC team), and cooperate with the MOD to analyze the event, write a report, and publish it in the IVSA newsletter.
The best time for analyzing the event you have just organized is one week after the event. Any assessment of the event that would take place after this period would be a “cold assessment” because feelings start to turn in a more positive way than they may be during or shortly after the event.
During the week after the event you can also remember more clearly what the difficulties were during the event. You will also remember the little details that went wrong or were not done properly or according to plan, and the smallest detail that needed to be improved. To ease this assessment, you should write during the event each time something isn’t going as it was planned, to be sure not to forget anything.
Assessment by the participants
You can, during the event, evaluate the satisfaction of the participants with your organizational skills. If you do your job correctly according to your plans and you try to keep a good atmosphere during the whole event, then the delegates will be satisfied.
The participants themselves will give you this general assessment through their comments about the event. You should ask them direct questions about every point of the event.
Were they satisfied with accommodation, food, and transport? Did they find the lectures interesting?
You should have one person responsible for asking the participants those questions. Usually, participants will tell you only the good things about the event, and may, due to politeness, avoid telling you about the negative points. That’s why you need the anonymous inquiry to get an objective assessment.
Objective assessment can be easily obtained by anonymous inquiry, sent to all participants at the end of the event (it is better to ask them to fill in a paper when they are still there, because once they get back home, you can’t be sure to get feedback from everyone. The best bet is to give the short anonymous interview shortly before the formal closure of the event.
The written questionnaire should consist of questions that require “open answers”, but also questions with multiple choice, to evaluate the quality of some services for example.
The questionnaire should embrace all the fields of organization, food, accommodation, etc. The concept of the inquiry depends on which information you want to gather with it (The ExCo should cooperate on that if you are organizing a Congress or Symposium and the MOD should make this evaluation and send you a report). You can ask the MOD for an example of a feedback questionnaire.
It is absolutely necessary for the inquiry to be anonymous. Make sure that you get back as many of these questionnaires as possible in order to make an impartial assessment of your event.
Personal assessment of the event
You should then be auto-critical about your work, as much before the event as during the event. You still need to evaluate your work, make a final assessment and write a report. It is important to emphasize what went right and what went wrong during the whole period, to avoid making the mistakes again, and to repeat what went well.
It is necessary to recognize these mistakes and find out why they occurred and use this information to prevent them from happening in future projects for OCs all over the world.
Therefore the main purpose of evaluation is preventing the same mistakes from happening in the future through the system of self-critical evaluation, and to give future OCs tips about “how to organize an IVSA Event”.
All the members of your team must take part in this auto-assessment. Include also the ones who did not play a major role in the process of preparation but helped a lot during the execution of the event. They may have noticed some negative points regarding your organization that you hadn’t noticed before.
Everybody should write down, by themselves, positive and negative things which they encountered before and during the event, and assess their work and the work of their colleagues. This should also be done in the week after the event.
Although some can find it hard to admit they made a mistake, it’s necessary to do so - you need to strive for perfection in all fields of your work.
Evaluate your work by comparing it with the criteria for evaluation of your work that you prepared before the event and compare it to what the ExCo gives as advice regarding events.
This task demands an objective attitude towards yourself and all the other members of the team, when the time comes to evaluate your performance. The purpose of searching for mistakes is not a punishment but improvement of the quality of the event and therefore improvement of the level of work of the team members. It means that it mustn’t be a personal criticism but only criticism about the quality of work and the efficiency of a particular person. Discuss each other’s views sincerely and try to abolish the eventual quarrels or tensions that could occur during the event.
This task is very important so it’s absolutely necessary to take this evaluation very seriously.
Therefore, evaluation should consist of the following elements:
- Assessment of the goals that had to be reached
- Concept of the event: tasks, execution… were they all achieved?
- Analysis of the questionnaires
This analysis will allow a constructive criticism of the work that was done by the members of the organizing team. Think about the solutions to avoid mistakes next time; maybe a combination of several solutions proposed by your OC team is the best one.
Last, but not least, your experiences are immensely valuable. Therefore you should write a report to the MOD, to make this manual richer with your experience. Don’t hesitate in writing and sharing your experiences with new OC teams from all over the world.
Your event could also be the subject of a great article for our newsletter. Do not forget to add a few pictures, to sum up the activities, and finish the article by your feelings about the event.
Plans for the future
It’s your decision and you can direct your energy in any direction you like. Be aware of the importance of giving the new generations of IVSA members the experience you got from this event.
Improvements can be incorporated on all fields, from preparation, through execution to analysis. Keep the solutions and concepts that worked well. Try to use all the potential a certain concept has.
You should communicate all those possible improvements to the MOD so that he/she incorporates them into the manual.
Organizing an international event is a real challenge, but be sure to enjoy every minute of it. It will make you meet new people, but also gain a lot of experience in different fields that will be useful for you throughout your entire life. Let this manual be the additional motivation and factor that encourages you to organize the next IVSA Congress, Symposium or Local Event!