Arranging a conference is a tricky task that can be full of obstacles and setbacks, even if you're setting it up in your home city. Arranging one overseas or even interstate throws up more potential problems, so it's best to be prepared with a planning timeline.
Ideally, you want to start planning a year or so before your conference. This will give you time to set up a committee, find a site that has availability and also contact keynote speakers so they still have space in their diaries. If you're going to provide accommodation for speakers, this is the time to arrange it.
Once you know who's going to be speaking, you can start planning the order they'll appear, who'll headline and if you want any themes or groupings for certain days or stages. You can use this time to start contacting other presenters to fill in any gaps you may have in your lineup. You can also brief the local media on the main draws to your conference and open up ticket sales.
Six months to go
With the big tasks done and dusted, you can start preparing more promotional material – brochures, etc. – and ramping up your media coverage. You may also want to look at essential hiring needs – chairs for attendees, AV systems for the speakers, companies to provide catering and so on.
Last three months
With the main work organised, you're left to neatly tie together preparations. Begin sending out information to registered attendees, finalise the schedule and make sure all your speakers are happy with what they have to do and on track to deliver their talk.
Hopefully preparations are on target, but you'll probably want to fly oversea to oversee the final touches in person. If you have large materials like banners or custom-designed stands, arranging international freight can get them to your location quickly and easily, removing some of the stress from your shoulders.
With any organised event, there are things that can and will go wrong. The best way to tackle these is by being prepared and knowing exactly what should be done and when coordinating a conference overseas