Me and a colleague are co-organizing a conference next year (which will be hosted in our city). Neither of us has ever organized a conference before. It is a yearly conference that so far has happend 3 times at the same location. The original organizers wanted to grow the conference and make it more international and have started to look for collaborators and co-hosts in other countries - this is where we come in. The field is a multi-disciplinary engineering sub-section.
The original organizers are present and offer support and guidance, but give us a lot of freedom concerning structure, specific topics, etc. I would very much like to implement a small best paper award (this would be the first instance of the conference that has such an award), as I think it is nice (especially for early career researchers) to get recognition this way. Everyone is on board with the idea but noone has any experience on how to chose the awardee. I asked my PhD supervisor (who is not part of the conference organization crew), and he told me that he only ever had the steering comittee chose who to give an award to.
We would like to give the audience a chance to vote, too, as a good presentation should not only be of great quality content wise, but also presented well and understandably--a matter that an audience might be more fit to judge. We wonder, though, if this is very uncommon (I have never experienced any instance of "public" voting for an award at a conference) and will lead to biased voting because some presenter might know more people and is more popular.
So is audience-voting for best-paper awards something that actually happens and what should one consider when implementing it to avoid skewed and biased results?