Every business should have a business plan, and a conference center is no exception. A well-written plan not only succinctly describes the business to an outsider, but also provides a reference document for the business owner to monitor progress toward the stated objectives. The process of actually having to think through every stage of the business plan is also useful in that it forces the author to consider every aspect from setting goals to the detailed financial cash flow. A business plan for a conference center faces specific challenges in that it has to rely on a range of services that enable it to function effectively all year around, including times when bookings may be sparse or nonexistent.
How to Write a Business Plan for a Conference Center
Prepare an outline of the plan so that it can act as a guide in building the detailed structure. A suitable plan for a conference center would consist of: Executive summary Mission statement, vision and goals Company background and description Products and services Market and demand analysis Operational plan Management and organization Financial plan * Appendices
Set goals for the business. These need to be defined in quantifiable terms, not just generalities. For instance, 'being profitable' is too vague an objective, a better goal would be: 'to generate pre-tax profits of $120,000 by the end of year two.' That gives the owner something very specific that can then be broken down into smaller targets such as monthly revenue.
Carry out detailed market research to confirm the demand for conference facilities and to review the competitive landscape. The services to be offered will range from the most basic--simply providing accommodation for meetings--to a full-fledged residential center with catering on site and hotel-style facilities. Whatever the size of the enterprise it will need to have meeting rooms and presentation equipment for hire, as well as the ability to provide at least hot and cold drinks and light meals. High speed Internet access is also virtually essential in today's market.
Review the target market and the competition. There are many prospects for a conference center, but some of the most important will be event planners and local companies. The business plan should expand on the demographics for these and describe how they will be made aware of the services provided. Methods will include press releases, a targeted website, networking with bodies such as Chambers of Commerce, as well as traditional print advertising. The competitive review should discuss the strengths and weaknesses of companies offering similar facilities and review their strategies.
Include a financial section giving projected revenues and a profit and loss statement,a balance sheet and source and application of funds. With a conference center, it is likely that the business will be cyclical and it should therefore show how it will cover costs in the quiet period; usually the winter months--perhaps it would offer facilities for private functions such as parties and wedding receptions at the times that company bookings are slow.
Prepare the presentation format. If it is a document primarily intended for internal use, a simple written document might suffice. But if it is to be provided to external investors, the more professional it looks, the better. In this case, it could be provided on a DVD, with photographs, video and audio included. It should be accompanied by a written document or PowerPoint-type presentation, and that would include all relevant information such as detailed statistical analyses and brochures describing the business.
Originally from England, now living in Northern Virginia, Chris Lewis started writing articles and reports as an international management consultant in 1979. He has been published by the "Sunday Telegraph" color magazine, "The Intelligence Review" and private publications. With B.A. degrees in business management from Teesside University (U.K.), Lewis specializes in writing about business and marketing.