Founded in 1994, Conference ConCepts (a California Corporation) is a full-service professional conference and association management company that produces technical events focused on cutting-edge technologies. It develops events both on its own and in partnership with associations, corporations, and publishers. Conference Concepts created the popular and rapidly growing Flash Memory Summit. Other recent events created by CCI include: PCI Annual Conference, Storage Area Networks Conference, Embedded Internet Conference, Appliance Server Workshop, Fibre Channel Technologies Conference, Gigabit Ethernet Conference, Network Processors Conference, Network Systems Design Conference, Server Blade Summit, Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) Summit, AdvancedTCA Summit, Data Protection Summit, MicroTCA Conference, Flash Memory Summit and AdvancedTCA Europe
The Conference ConCepts team has focused on events with high growth potential that meet the needs of their industry contacts, sponsors, and exhibitor prospects.
Recognizing industry demand for high-quality technical events designed for engineers, programmers, technical managers, and IT/IS managers, Conference ConCepts’ staff members have developed a full menu of event services. We base our efforts on an entrepreneurial spirit, extensive knowledge of emerging technologies in computing and communications, strong background in the technical industry, and more than 60 years’ experience between the company’s two principals.
Each member of the Conference ConCepts’ team has at least 15 years experience in helping coordinate successful conferences ranging in size from 250 to 3,000 registrants at locations throughout the world. We believe our organizational abilities, close attention to detail, emphasis on service, and proven model for financial and technical value has served us and our clients well.
Conference ConCepts provides full-service capabilities in all aspects of technical conference management. The skill sets of the company’s employees and contractors, representing over 200 man-years of experience, enables us to offer clients a choice of services, ranging from assistance with a single aspect of a conference to the complete development and administration of a full-fledged “turnkey” event. Our expertise covers the following areas:
Dr. Lance A. Leventhal, Vice President for Business Development
Dr. Lance A. Leventhal, a noted author and computing technology evangelist, is the primary organizer and developer of technical programs for all CCI conferences. He has single-handedly organized such events as the Gigabit Ethernet Conference, Fibre Channel Conference, Network Processors Conference, and PCI Developers Conference in his 35-year career. An author of over 80 technical articles and author and editor of books selling over one million copies, Dr. Leventhal has the intimate technical knowledge and networks to know where the computing industry is going, and he is the driving force for new conference initiatives. Lance is backed by consultants and Conference Advisory Boards to help assess the strongest candidates for topics and presenters at CCI events.
As a partner in CCI, Dr. Leventhal determines technical areas to be covered, solicits speakers and chairpeople, and advises participants on presentation and display methods. He focuses on developing programs, organizing panels, inviting keynoters, and creating special technical sessions. He is dedicated to producing high-quality technical programs and to exploring new approaches to increasing the value of conference attendance.
Mr. Chip G. Stockton, CEO
Mr. Chip G. Stockton handles logistics and operations for CCI’s events. With almost 30 years of conference experience, Stockton is in charge of all logistical elements, budgets, and arrangements.
A manager and executive director of several associations, Stockton is a founding partner in CCI, Stockton has worked in conference management for a wide variety of shows, including ones produced for the Society for Computer Simulation (SCS), the IEEE Lasers and Electro-Optics Society (IEEE-LEOS), Journal of Emergency Medical Systems (JEMS), and the Special District Board Management Institute. He also has extensive experience in publishing and in managing nonprofit associations with a focus on budgeting and finance. He is dedicated to creating shows that are profitable, run smoothly, provide a valuable and enjoyable experience for all participants, and offer a solid framework for financial auditing, analysis of results, and feedback from participants. He focuses on building strong, long-lasting relationships with vendors, contractors, exhibitors, and attendees.
Two exhibit sales teams support Conference ConCepts’ events; both have worked with CCI for over six years. The team members are responsible for exhibit and sponsorship sales and relationships for specific events, both before the conference and on-site as floor managers. Their activities include research, solicitation, contract issuance and closings, re-signs, sales, coordination and design of floor spaces for exhibits, pricing, sponsorship solicitation and coordination, and customer interaction. The exhibit sales managers work closely with all exhibitors before, during, and after the show to maximize the show’s value to them, ensure that their questions are answered and their needs met, and obtain feedback on their evaluation of events. The managers are dedicated to building long-term, mutually profitable relationships rather than just making sales. They also work closely with the other members of the CCI team to make the exhibits an integral part of the conferences.
Web efforts for Conference ConCepts’ events are handled by an experienced Web design and management team that creates and integrates elements of CCI’s promotional campaigns and marketing messages. Team members work with the exhibit sales teams, program committees, and public relations representatives to keep the website useful, accurate, and up-to-date. They also coordinate with the registration vendor to ensure a seamless registration process. The Web team maintains extensive statistics to determine the sources of hits and to evaluate visitors’ levels of interest in specific aspects of the conferences. The Web team also contributes to the conferences through its members’ long association with the technical industry and their knowledge of the factors controlling Web traffic. Furthermore, the Web team maintains the e-mail databases and sends out e-mail blasts and newsletters.
Using a vendor we have worked with for many years, Conference ConCepts provides real-time, on-line management of conference registration. The vendor provides continuous on-line access to registration databases and extensive reports, allowing immediate analysis of progress at any point in time. A transparent interface between conference websites and the registration vendor allows for rapid on-line registration, acknowledgement, and issuance of receipts. Badges are prepared directly from registrants’ entries, and attendee databases are readily available for communications and analysis. Of course, fax, mail, and phone registration capabilities are available as well. The vendor also offers on-site support and lead retrieval capabilities for exhibitors. The vendor is strongly service-oriented and is always looking for ways to improve the registration process.
Careful coordination between program management and logistics management enables Conference ConCepts’ teams to negotiate favorable rates and accommodations at a wide variety of hotels and convention centers. CCI’s principals have long-standing relationships with many event venues and a deep understanding of the kind of events they can handle successfully. Estimates of sleeping and meeting room requirements, food and beverage requirements, audiovisual needs, on-site staffing needs, and security arrangements are made via a team consensus based on decades of experience. CCI team members work constantly to refine estimates and avoid costly errors in attrition clauses and food, beverage, space, and audiovisual equipment plans. The team prides itself on making realistic estimates rather than exaggerating prospects.
CCI works with an experienced public relations group to ensure maximum media exposure. The PR group helps secure media sponsors and fulfill media agreements, publicizes the conference, assists exhibitors in gaining media coverage, and maintains lists of press/media/analyst attendees. The group also develops feature sections in media outlets, special media events, and awards programs. The group has extensive background in the technical industry and assists with general marketing functions, exhibit sales, and conference promotions as well. The group also provides press/analyst support at the events.
As a part of the work on each conference, CCI staff develops a complete slate of collateral publicity materials, announcements, advertisements, calendar entries, preview and final programs, and e-mail messages aimed at prospective attendees, exhibitors, and sponsors. CCI works with an experienced graphics designer to create logos and other design tools and to lay out publications. The designer also transmits materials to printers when needed. CCI’s careful monitoring of response levels has led to printed materials generally being used only for handouts, mailings to specific small lists, and conference distribution.
CCI has created newsletters in support of events covering specific industries. These are professionally edited and sent via e-mail to select proprietary lists of previous attendees or prospects, with a standard opt-out option. Our privately held lists currently cover network systems design, information lifecycle management, server blades, and AdvancedTCA. They are constantly being updated from a variety of sources including shows, on-line requests, and trades with publications. Each list has thousands of current entries, with some exceeding 15,000. Our newsletters are not just event announcements or promotional pieces. Most have significant editorial content, technical digests, and original articles specific to the topic at hand. They also provide opportunities for vendors and prospective exhibitors and sponsors to advertise upcoming activities or products to potential clients, thus enhancing the value to them of conference participation. Newsletters are augmented with proceedings of events, published in hard copy (printed), CD form, Flash Memory form or via the internet.
Small events generally attract a large percentage of vendor attendees. Actual customer attendees are more difficult to obtain. CCI strives to have at least 20 percent of attendees be customers. Methods for attracting customers include special mailings to customer attendees from past conferences, use of custom lists and lists from media sponsors, vendor mailings, telephone solicitations and reminders, and cooperative agreements with user groups. User-oriented surveys are a further way to determine user response to the conference and to identify why users came and what would help make them return.
Conference ConCepts provides complete accounting and financial management services, including budgeting, cash flow management, and financial statements. CCI understands the importance of accurate projection of finances, constant tracking of them during the pre-show period, and complete reports. CCI focuses on developing extensive milestones, checking progress toward meeting them, and having alternative plans ready in case they are not met. .
The world of technical events is a fast-changing one with new topics and directions appearing constantly and older ones falling by the wayside. Furthermore, communications methods are also changing rapidly with new services appearing and older ones declining in use. Conference ConCepts believes that lifecycle planning is essential to success in this rapidly evolving area. Such planning includes test marketing of events via surveys, thorough evaluation of results, and forecasting of future directions.
Conference ConCepts focuses on developing and producing events early in a market cycle rather than working in established areas. As such, Conference ConCepts largely funds new events from its own resources and is motivated to thoroughly evaluate the prospective success of an event in select technical areas by virtue of its conservative risk aversion and desire for successful repeat growth events. We believe that the potential is greatest in the same subjects that entrepreneurs and venture capitalists find promising. Of course, this means we must set milestones and abandon efforts that do not work out. Our extensive contact lists and databases allow us to test interest in proposed events through inexpensive e-mail surveys.
Constant monitoring of results is a key part of continuing success with technical events. Conference ConCepts uses evaluation forms, on-line and e-mailed surveys, and focus groups to determine the current effectiveness of marketing efforts and to track the level of interest in specific topics and industries. Trends can change rapidly, and continuous tracking is necessary in all areas.
Events, like everything else, have a lifetime. Some continue for many years, whereas others fade after just a short period. Although attention often focuses on rapid expansion, technology markets can decline as well, and exit strategies are an essential part of long-term planning. CCI believes in extensive, realistic evaluation of all events to determine whether they are worth continuing. Such evaluations depend not only on current profit margins, but also on trends at the event itself, in the related industry, and in the general economy. A key issue here is that technology events have become subject to the same rapid fluctuations as events in the fashion, entertainment, or videogaming industries. Marketing and travel funds are limited, and go to areas where organizations feel they will derive the largest future benefits. The result is that “hot” technologies draw tremendous interest from exhibitors, attendees, and program participants. Technologies that have peaked or are no longer experiencing rapid change often attract little interest, even if their markets remain relatively large in size. Constant monitoring of trends and results is thus essential to long-term success.