Hosting a Conference: Uncovering hidden venue costs
With all the hidden extras associated with venue costs, calculating the real price in advance isn’t easy. But one association is managing to do just this.
Venue costs and catering make up the lion’s share of the typical conference budget. But, as every planner knows, the true cost of using a venue can sometimes feel like it’s worlds away from the price listed in the bid.
From meeting delegates’ increasingly varied dietary requests, to covering fees for utilities like water and waste, there are whole categories of venue costs that can feel frustratingly hard to pin down. And, because these hidden costs can vary – sometimes substantially – from one venue to the next, this makes it tricky to draw true comparisons between the venues on your conference shortlist.
“When it comes to comparing venues, you’re trying to compare apples and pears,” says Holger Omlor, head of events at the European Association for International Education (EAIE). Before joining the association, Holger spent a decade as a professional conference organiser, where one returning task of his was comparing local venue costs.
“When you get to know the venues, you know that this venue is making their money off the rentals, that venue is making their money off the AV, there it’s the rentals, and so on… There aren’t huge surprises.”
But when you don’t have the advantage of detailed knowledge about each venue, it’s a different kettle of fish.
RFPs and squeezed margins
EAIE’s Annual Conference & Exhibition takes place in a different European destination each year, which means Holger and his team were grappling with shortlists full of unfamiliar venues.
While standard venue request for proposals (RFPs) are pretty detailed, they don’t necessarily help you smoke out all the extra costs associated with using each venue. And EAIE was getting stung. “We’d put out an RFP and venues come back with bids and we say ‘that looks ok’,” says Holger. “And then we’d go there and get all the extra catering and cleaning costs, all that stuff.”
Venue-related costs like electricity, water charges and furniture rental can be sizeable additions to your conference bill. But even when the cost is one you’re anticipating – like staffing – the variance between the added extras in one venue and the next can be a nasty surprise. Something as simple as how many exits a building has, for example, can make a sizeable difference.
”Let’s say the cleaner for the toilets is included and you have 20 toilets, and the other venue has 40 toilets and it’s not included. That’s typically not a cost that comes up beforehand,” says Holger. “Security is the same. Some venues include the cost estimate in the bid and some don’t say anything about it. They say ‘Oh, basic security is included.’ And you have to ask ‘What is basic security?’ ‘Oh, that depends on your logistics…’
In some venues, you might need 10 security guards, in others, 15. That’s a substantial additional staffing cost you wouldn’t necessarily see when comparing the list of bids responding to an RFP.
And comparing the true cost of venues is vital to the association. EAIE’s conference runs over 4 days serving around 6000 participants. As conferences scale, the pool of suitable venues shrinks. And with a big exhibition and a content programme that sees as many as 18 sessions running in parallel, this is an event in the top 1% of the largest conferences in Europe. All those factors together can lead to quite some pressure on the margins.
“We are playing in the champion’s league: we’re competing with medical and pharma association conferences,” says Holger. And competing with well-funded meetings for bigger venues in tier 1 and 2 cities means much higher venue costs.
‘This is what my conference looks like, give me an estimate’
So EAIE did a lot of work on its venue bidding process to get a clearer picture of what’s included in upfront venue costs, and what’s an added extra. Instead of trying to extrapolate from venues’ bids or from previous conferences, Holger created a forensically detailed pricing sheet that puts the onus on the venues themselves to draw out the extra costs well in advance.
What cleaning is included? Is that basic only? If I rent a carpet, will I need to pay extra to clean it? What’s the estimate for staffing for a conference with a setup like X? Asking questions like these results in a much clearer picture of what the final bill for each event is going to be.
“The funny thing is, when we have that discussion in the bidding phase, venues realise we are thinking about this stuff,” says Holger. “I tell them explicitly, ‘If there’s anything missing in this pricing sheet, tell me.’ Then if you put it out there, all kind of stuff comes up. It’s often not even that they keep the cost out because they want to have a competitive bid. Sometimes they forget about hidden venue costs as well. ”
“Because they also don’t want to have that discussion later, where I say, ‘Hey, wait a second, your bid was A and now I have 2 x A on my tab.’ They see I need to understand what their pricing looks like, otherwise I’m going to have a very annoying conversation with my director.”
Having this means that the association can make more informed decisions when whittling down their shortlist.
When your event doesn’t have the luxury of wide margins, unexpected extras in venue costs can mean the difference between success and failure.
The income from EAIE’s annual conference accounts for a large chunk of the association’s budget. It doesn’t only pay staff salaries but it’s also used to fund the member magazine and other nonprofit activities. In the competitive events market out there, you can’t afford to be leaving money on the table.
As Holger puts it: “Association conferences are not for profit, but they’re also not for loss.”
Copyright to www.exordo.com
Using Social Media Walls for Events Is the Next Big Thing
How do you define an event as a successful one?
Maybe it's a high attendance rate. Maybe it's social media streams that are filled with your event updates and check-ins. Maybe it's knowing that your attendees are actually engaging in the event activities and enjoying themselves, as evident by their selfies and fruitful discussions. Maybe it's all that and more.
It sounds like an event organizer’s dream, doesn't it?
Well, what if we told you we have a magic tool to make that happen all at once?
Slow down! Hold back your dreamy horses. It’s actually true.
There is a social media tool that can make all this happen, and more.
It’s called a Social Media Wall.
Ring any bells?
You must have seen these very frequently at events, concerts, conferences, weddings, graduations, trade shows, networking mixers or any other event types.
So, in this article, we will discuss why social media walls are so great to use for your next event.
What Is a Social Media Wall?
A social media wall is digital display screen which shows a running stream of live social media feeds which are aggregated from multiple social media channels.
So, the whole process goes like this-
Discover- Social media content which resonates with the theme of the event is discovered from multiple channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, and others via hashtags, mentions, locations, username, etc. with the help of a social media aggregator.
Aggregate- Social media aggregators after discovering the apt user-generated content aggregates them all at one place where they can be managed accordingly.
Curate- After aggregating the social media content, you can curate it so as to filter out the irrelevant content and prevent it from getting displayed. This helps to maintain the quality of the content.
Customize- Once you have curated your content, it’s time to prep it up for displaying on a social wall at events. There are many beautiful themes and layout options help you to beautify the social media content and make them attractive for displays.
Display- Now that everything is done and your social media feeds are all dolled up for display on social wall, just power up your social media wall with your social feeds and engage with your audience.
Why Should You Use a Social Media Wall for Your Events?
A social media wall comes with amazing benefits if employed for an event.
All the amazing scenarios of a marketer’s dream discussed above are actually brought to life with social media walls.
First and foremost, social media walls enhance audience engagement. They enchant the crowd at any event with it’s amazing display and social content.
When people see that their fellow attendees are getting featured on the social wall by posting about it on social media, then even they are compelled to do so in the desire of getting featured on the sparkly wall.
Social media walls are like the cool tech at display to which everyone is attracted to at first sight. This also helps to increase the event ROI. This is why sponsors also love using social media walls for events.
Second, social media walls are the best way to display user-generated content in an engaging and interactive manner. They come with various beautiful themes, as well as features like banners and tickers, advanced CSS options and so much more to present the user-generated content in an effective and engaging way.
Third, social media walls are the best way to spread word-of-mouth marketing. By employing social media walls, you get the power to generate a social buzz about your event on social media. And not just when it is happening in real-time, but prior to the event and even after the event is finished. The social media buzz continues. This helps you to expand your audience base even beyond your target audience. You may employ event-specific hashtags for that.
Fourth, social media walls fit everywhere and anywhere. These are very responsive in designs, hence they suit to the needs of all and every marketer and event organizer adjusting to all kinds of venues and event types. They can display social content on screens of any size and shape.
Last but not the least, social media walls are the best way to showcase social proof and build brand credibility. It expands your audience base beyond your target audience by reaching the circle's of your followers. It helps to grow social influence of your brand.
So, what are you waiting for?
Go and grab the golden opportunity to employ a social media wall for your upcoming events and make wonders happen for you.
Copyright to speednetworking.com
Plan a Successful Conference Panel Discussion with this Great Guide
Most people are immediately bored the minute they hear the word ‘conference’. What could be the cause of this? The same old 5-hour long PowerPoint presentation splattered with default fonts, and then there is the odd break for defrosted finger foods in a room full of bland furniture. It sounds like an underwhelming nightmare.
We compiled this brief guide on the do’s and don’ts of hosting a conference panel discussion successfully. Use it, don’t use it (no, really, use it!) – just don’t say we didn’t warn you.
What to Do:
- Manage time well – people don’t want to feel like they’re trapped in an hours-long talk. The number of key speakers must be less than 5, with about 5 minutes to present each. This allows for enough Q&A time while the audience still has some concentration.
- Ensure the moderator and panelists have prepared well in advance – Confirm that your key speakers are fully aware of your expectations. Do follow-ups least twice prior to the event.
- Keep everyone on the same page – communicate all the necessary details. Host a conference call or lunch meeting to discuss progress and create familiarity.
- Organise an out-of-the-box setup – be creative about how you prepare the room. Make it engaging and exciting for attendees and speakers.
- Find a suitable moderator for the specific topic – this person must lead the conversation without taking over and engage the audience for Q&A purposes. They must be knowledgeable, current and lively.
What Not to Do
- Don’t invite predictable speakers – be creative with your panelists. Consider journalists, academics and small business owners who’ve engaged the topic before.
- Don’t over-prepare – this could dilute the authenticity of the conference panel discussion. Allow it to unfold organically.
- Don’t use a single handheld mic – leave “passing the mic” to battling rappers. Rather use body mics to enable free movement and a seamless flow in the discussion.
- Don’t pinch on question time – leave enough time for questions at the end. Therefore, preparation and time management are important.
- Don’t do slideshows – they take away from the whole point of a discussion. You need the audience to engage what is said by the panelists and moderator.
Conference Planning Checklist: How to Stay On Target + On Time
18 months out from the event:
No matter what industry you work in, it usually takes at very least a year to plan an event. And the sooner you get started the better, so we really recommend starting a year and a half in advance. When you’re 18 months out, here’s what you need to do:
Determine the event objective/theme: The first step in planning any event is determining your objective and how you're going to incorporate an event theme into that objective.
Decide on a date: Next, you'll want to decide on a date. Do a little bit of research to see when competitor organizations are holding their event, and whatever you do, don’t pick those dates.
Pick a city: We don’t want to be captain obvious, but picking a city that has a special draw, whether it’s warm weather, outdoor attractions, or a bustling nightlife, can greatly impact attendee numbers. Here are the top 10 cities to host a conference or event in 2019.
Secure a convention center/event space: Once you’ve decided on a city, it’s time to start looking for a convention center or event space. It's also never a bad idea to conduct a site visit. Think about how many people you're expecting to attend and ensure that you'll have a large enough exhibit hall and ample meeting room space.
Finalize an event budget: Finalizing an event budget early helps give you an understanding of what types of sessions, speakers, and technology you'll be able to include in your conference programming. Once you finalize an overall event budget, create benchmarks for different categories and check in periodically as you continue to plan your event. Here's a 7 step process to simplify and prioritize an event budget.
Decide on ticket price: Ticket price is a huge factor in how many people register for your event. Do some research to see what similar organizations are charging. Determine how much you need to charge based on what you want overall revenue to be. It should be enough to make a substantial profit but not so much that it turns too many people away.
Solicit sponsorship: Sponsorship is an incredibly important piece of the event planning process, so start your reach out efforts early. Put together a sponsorship sheet that illustrates the benefits of each level.
Hotel reservations: Once you've secured your convention center or event space, start looking for nearby hotels and make room reservation blocks. The closer your hotel is to the convention space, the better. Usually, you can get some sort of deal for reserving so many rooms.
RFPS/Contracts/Deposits: Ahh, yes. Collecting RFPS. Reviewing never-ending contracts. Making deposit after deposit. While this part of event planning isn't always the most fun, it is necessary. Don't forget to focus on these in the early stages of your planning process. It'll make things that much easier down the road.
Marketing plan: You can't plan a conference without creating a marketing plan. Include your outreach strategy, how and where you're going to advertise, which platforms you're going to use, and who your target audience is. How are you going to reach people who have attended previously and encourage them to come again? And how are you going to branch out and build awareness to people who haven't?
Save the date: Send out a save the date email to your entire email list! This way, they can block it off on their calendar and let their employers know early that they're interested in attending. It's also a great way to create some initial excitement around your conference or event.
Agenda and session rough draft: Research speakers, brainstorm sessions, and think strategically about what kind of education offerings and breakout sessions you want to offer. Do they align with your overall event goals? Are they within budget? After your rough draft is put together, start reaching out to the appropriate people/organizations. Many times event speakers are booked way in advance, so the sooner you get on this, the better.
12 months out from the event:
Build your website: Your event website is extremely important. Oftentimes, it's the first impression potential event goers get. The site should be easy to navigate, with an eye-catching design. The last thing you want is an outdated look. This is your chance to create excitement and encourage attendance. Oh, and it needs to be responsive, meaning it needs to be mobile friendly.
Configure your event app: If you're using an event app, now is the time to start getting things set up. Ensure it offers a user-friendly experience. Even apps should never make thing more complicated – in fact, they should do the opposite and make things easier for your attendees. Here are some top event apps & software to consider.
Book speakers and collection bios: By now you should have reached out to potential speakers to gather information about their rates and typical speeches. Decide which people (or person) aligns most with your event theme and budget. After you've finalized this, collect a bio and photo to include on your event website. SpeakerHub is a great way to secure top industry speakers.
Finalize programming and put together event schedule: Speakers aren't the only thing to check off the list at 8-12 months out. By now you should be working to finalize your programming so that you can put together a comprehensive event schedule. Once finalized, publish to the website. People want to know what types of opportunities they're going to have from attending.
Whether potential attendees are interested in the star speakers, next level networking opportunities, or unique educational sessions, giving them as much information ahead of time is sure to increase their likelihood in actually registering.
Implement your marketing strategy: As awesome as your website or event programming might be, you won't hit the ticket sales you want to without marketing. Take advantage of all the platforms.
Consider offering an early bird registration discount: Early bird registration discounts are a great way to create excitement and boost attendance numbers early. They create a sense of urgency that says "I need to register for this now."
Decide what kind of event security you'll need: Security is becoming increasingly important in today's event world. From large crowds to data protection, security is something you'll need to discuss with your team. And it's always better safe than sorry, so err on the side of overly cautious.
Check-in on your budget benchmarks: How are you doing on your budget? Are you hitting your benchmarks? What categories have you gone over budget on? Are you under budget anywhere? Adjust as needed to stay within your total event budget.
6 months out from the event:
Finalize any catering needs: Events are about much more than just the sessions. Every detail matters, especially food. Finalize what types of food you want to serve and gather estimates. You could even do a taste test.
Rent AV equipment: When you're six months out, you'll want to put in rental requests for AV equipment. Do some research and see which company best fits your needs. We recommend checking out Endless Events.
Send out reminders to attendees, speakers, sponsors, and vendors: Keeping in consistent contact with each of these groups helps keep everyone informed. Keep your attendees posted on any schedule changes or additions, ensure your speakers and sponsors know what's going on, and work with your vendors to ensure they have the tools and resources they need to help make your event a success.
Continue to market, market, market: We can't emphasize this enough. High attendance rates come down to one thing: how well did you market your event? In today's world, there are so many ways to raise awareness.
3 months out from the event:
Collect any presentation submissions: The event is quickly approaching and it's time to collect any and all presentation submissions. Review them carefully, checking to make sure each contains relevant, valuable information.
Order conference materials: This includes any lanyards, badges, conference bags, or any other SWAG items you're planning to give out to attendees. 4imprint is a great company for all SWAG items.
Order any print signage or posters: Signage and event posters help direct conference-goers. Order these at least three months out because printing, as simple as it may seem, takes time. And if any information is incorrect, you'll have time to reprint without having to worry if it will be finished in time.
Week of the event:
Deliver signage and materials: Once you're a week out, start delivering any signage and materials so that you can easily set things up the day before or the morning of. Be careful with these materials – the last thing you want is to damage or break them.
Provide final numbers to your caterer: By now you should be able to give your caterer a final headcount. Try to be as accurate as possible so as to not waste food or drink.
Check technology and equipment: When it comes to technology, there's so much that can go wrong. Test everything out ahead of time and familiarize yourself with how everything works and how you may need to troubleshoot should something go wrong.
Backup all presentation materials: If all you have is one thumb drive, that is not enough. We repeat. That is not enough. Back up everything. Your presentation materials should be able to be accessed in multiple ways by multiple people.
Check AV arrangements: Again, ensure everything is working properly and contact your AV company if it isn't.
Send welcome/what to expect email: Send out an email to all of your attendees! Get them excited. Let them know what to expect and what they're going to take away from attending. How will this event make them a better professional? What new knowledge or skills are they going to be leaving with?
Conference Planning Checklist: During the Event
The first day of the event:
Set up registration desk: Get there early and set your event registration desk up. Event check-in can quickly become a stressful situation if your table isn't well-organized. Think about how you want your attendees to flow and what's going to get them through the quickest. Organize any badges or name tags alphabetically and make sure the table is appropriately staffed. Attendees are going to have a lot of questions about where to go and what to do. Ensure you have enough people to help with registration and help with directions and expectations.
Brief staff: We can't stress enough how important it is for you to brief your staff ahead of time. Go over any last-minute changes and touch on any important parts everyone should know. It'll help you and your volunteers/event workers feel much more at ease.
During the event:
Try to enjoy yourself: We know this is easier said than done, but you put a lot of hard work in. Try to take some time to sit back and enjoy it. Understand that at this point, you just have to give up some control and let things happen as they happen.
The last day of the event:
Collect conference feedback: Collecting conference feedback is incredibly important. The more attendee data you can get, the better. Don't wait to do it after the event. Do it during it, when it's still fresh in their minds.
Conference Planning Checklist: After the Event
The day after the event:
Rest: The day after the event should be dedicated to rest. Seriously, this is important. You put in months of hard work, long hours, and late nights and you were probably running around the whole week of the event. Let yourself recover from the hustle and bustle.
One week after the event:
Sent thank you letters: Send out personalized thank you letters to your speakers, sponsors, and vendors. This isn't just common courtesy – it's a great way to build industry partnerships and help you secure the same organizations for the next year. Email is great, but handwritten is even better.
Post-conference feedback meeting with the team: Once you've all had a chance to breathe, set up a meeting with the team. Talk about what went well and what didn't. Take notes of things you want to remember for next year. And let your employees know how much they're valued and supported. Like we said, planning events is stressful, for everyone involved. Showing appreciation makes it all worth it.
Do you have any other items you add to your conference planning checklist? Everyone has their own process, and we're always open to hearing what you have to say. What's helped you stay organized? Do you follow a different timeline of events? Let us know what's worked and what hasn't.
And, if you're interested in exploring session ideas, allow us to introduce to you the ideas of speed networking. Speed networking is one of the fastest growing forms of networking in the world. Our company, SpeedNetworking.com, takes the traditional value of face-to-face meetings and combines it with matchmaking technology to ensure each attendee can pre-select the types of people they're interested in meeting. Through predictive analytics, we can ensure the highest quality of connections for each person.
Let us know if you'd like to learn more. Our program is completely customizable based on your unique event needs.
Copyright to speednetworking.com
Too Many Event Planners Aren’t Thinking About Cyber Security. Here’s Why They Should Be.
Every year event planning takes a giant step forward in how events are organized and what they offer. Our post on the 5 Noteworthy New Event Tech Trends of 2019 showed how technology is now a huge part of pulling off a successful event. This ranges from attendee tracking and facial recognition technology, to clever flooring that collects floor traffic data.
Each of these innovations adds to the experience of attending an event, but more technology also open the door to cyber-attacks. And as events become more and more digitally focused, the risk of data and files being stolen increases. But event planners aren't thinking about the threat of cyber security enough. Here's why they should be.
Tackling cybercrime has become one of the top priorities for companies in the 21st century. The 2017-18 EY Global Information Security Survey found that 87% of companies believe they require up to 50% more budget for cyber security. The demand for industry experts is increasing every year as companies look to increase their security profile, as is the importance of cyber security experts being an integral part of most companies.
Corporations aren't the only ones focused on upping their cyber security. Maryville University details how the International Data Corporation believes that going forward: “75% of chief security officers and chief information security officers will report directly to the CEO, not the CIO.” This rising demand for specialists is being reflected in universities across the country with national competitions on cyber security.
In fact, the University of Kansas recently won a cyber security competition set up by the United States Department of Energy. This shows how seriously the government is taking the increasing threat of cyber attacks, and why event planners must also take the threat seriously.
Events or conferences may seem like an unlikely target for a cyber attack, but the amount of information and data on attendees makes it attractive for hackers. Corporate events will often feature multiple companies using the lasted connected technology to attract customers and future partners. If their devices are connected to the internet, they could be using a network that maybe isn’t as secure as their normal company network.
Those who open documents on their devices could unwittingly open themselves up for a data breach. This is why event cyber security expert Gijs Verbeek told Cit Magazine that that agencies, corporations, and venues have a responsibility to make cyber security a priority: "It doesn’t just fall to venues. Event planners should be hiring experts and taking further measures to protect themselves and their clients."
There are many ways hackers can access data on laptops and other devices. Computer Weekly explain how phishing is a common route into a laptop. This is where a hacker sends a fake email supposedly from a well known business or even the company that the laptop owner works for.
If the email is accepted as real and a link is clicked, an attachment is downloaded, or sensitive information is entered, the hacker will have access to the laptop and the network it is connected too. At a networking event where the goal is to collect email addresses in order to start networking, a hacker could potentially hide a phishing email within the numerous legitimate emails.
Another danger is physical security threats with hackers inserting a device into a company laptop. Tech Rader outlines how even modern laptops using USB-C ports are not safe, as hackers can alter the charger to hijack the computer. As the laptop would charge as normal, the user wouldn’t notice that it is allowing a hacker access to the device. A large event, with a large crowd would make such a swap much easier. And with event managers holding lots of sensitive information and files on attendees, they could easily become targets, especially if they are not keeping a close eye on their laptop.
If an event is hacked, the event organizer could be liable for any data stolen, especially if they set up the network that the attendees used. Marianne Bonner, in her article The Dangers of Cyber Attacks shares how small businesses are often most at risk from cyber attacks. This is because they often don’t have the robust cyber defenses of larger corporations. She notes how any data breach could easily lead to privacy lawsuits. With so much attendee information being held and transferred at an event, a serious breach could lead to multiple lawsuits.
As you can see, it's absolutely vital for event planners to have a good cyber security plan in place. Hackers are always looking for an easy entry point to access sensitive and valuable data, and events have the potential to offer them outlets into multiple organizations. This is why event planners need to get serious about cyber security, particularly since events are becoming more digitally driven with evolving technology like AI.
Copyright to speednetworking.com
Benefits To Hold Your Conference Or Company Event Early In The New Year Ahead
The purpose of your conference may be for a variety of reasons. A conference can be a small and intimate affair
or a large-scale event that requires months of planning.
Here are some important reasons to hold a conference:
- Build Morale: Taking your staff away for a team-building event is great way to build people’s morale and to encourage effective communication amongst employees. One could also use it as a means to identify leadership skills.
- Brief Staff/Clients: Hold a conference or meeting to brief staff when the company is undergoing large operational changes ie. company merger or technology upgrade.
- Solve a Problem: You may need to hold a mini-conference in order to discuss various solutions to a company problem. You can divide staff into groups and each group can present their solution to the problem.
- Exchange Information: Hold a conference to share and exchange information on a particular subject. A conference is an excellent platform to share results of new studies and to keep all professionals within that industry updated.
- Initiate and Review Policies: This is a popular reason to have a conference. Each year, company policies should be reviewed and new ones created when necessary. This can sometimes be an arduous task so what better way to do this than have a conference dedicated to “company policies”?
- Product Launch: This is always a great reason to have a conference. Invite all companies or clients that fir into your target market and combine the product launch with useful information that delegates can take home.
- Develop Annual Strategy: Go on a conference getaway and spend time developing your business strategy for the following year.
- Brainstorming and idea generation: Develop great ideas for your business, whether it be ideas for marketing, products or services. A conference getaway dedicated to idea generation is bound to be worthwhile.
Here are Some Important Reasons to Invest in a Company Conference:
People who get to go to conferences to represent the company feel valued which contributes to job satisfaction. In fact, research suggests that employees who feel they receive training and professional development opportunities tend to stay longer. Gallup research has discovered that people who have the opportunity to continually develop are twice as likely as those on the other end of the scale to say they will spend their career with their company. According to Go2HR, 40 percent of employees leave their position due to lack of training. Consider the cost of turnover. Urgh!
Not surprisingly, companies that invest in their employees and in the continuous training of their employees land on Fortune’s Best Companies to Work For list.
At a conference, you get training in a convenient package at one location administered over a few days. Hear from industry leaders; learn about trends; find out about best-practices and new technologies. Employees bring back useful takeaways to the team so everybody gets something out of it. It’s like an employee training BOGO. Collecting actionable tips, statistics and other useful information at conferences to share with your team multiplies the value of one person attending an event. If more people attend, the value keeps multiplying.
AN INFUSION OF ENERGY AND IDEAS
Information brought back to the office from a conference often leads to new impulses, a spark of energy, and exciting new ideas for your business. Few things are more beneficial to an office than an employee bringing motivational energy and new ideas from a conference. When a group of people works together for a long time they tend to repeat patterns, which can lead to a dead end. Bringing back new ideas, processes, best practices, and strategies from a conference could help invigorate the office dynamic more than one would think.
INTRODUCE YOUR BRAND TO A NEW AUDIENCE
There are a lot of business cards being exchanged at conferences. Your employee is learning new things and acting as a walking billboard for your company at the same time. Even if your company is not presenting at the conference, the attendance at an industry event improves company exposure. Connecting with other professionals and sharing experiences is an excellent way to build relationships. The people at these conferences are usually doing business in your industry and perhaps even in your geographic region. There is often synergy between your business and others that attend the same conference. You help your brand simply by being there.
This is one of the most popular reasons people like attending a conference–connecting with people that are professionally immersed in the same things as you are. People understand what you do all day simply based on reading your job title. When employees get to know new people who work in the same industry an extraordinary amount of sharing, learning and collaborating occurs–not to mention the potential business leads that may come home from the conference.
Register your team for a Conference now. There isn’t a better value around.
Conferences empower your employees.
Remember when your parents finally gave you the keys to their car? You had that feeling of freedom. You knew you wouldn’t let them down by crashing it. That’s the feeling employees get as they board the flight or enter a conference center, thanks to you. They too, won’t let you down.
Conferences educate teams.
When your people attend the different keynotes, speaker sessions, panels and workshops, they learn new skills and methodologies from the expert speakers. By taking notes on what they learn, they can use these new ideas to benefit your business.
Conferences make your staff ambassadors.
As your employees peruse the exhibit halls and network with fellow attendees, sponsors, and speakers, they talk about your company. They become your ambassadors and proudly share information about what your business does and who you are. This leads to brand awareness and new business opportunities.
The investment in sending employees to a conference can be expensive, but the efforts can also be rewarding. If your team is properly taught how to network before, during and after each conference, you will see great returns on your investment. These new relationships lead to new customers, employees, investors, promotional opportunities and many ideas to advance your company.
What is a Conference? #Backtobasics
A conference is generally understood as a meeting of several people to discuss a particular topic. It is often confused with a convention, colloquia or symposium. While a conference differs from the others in terms of size and purpose, the term can be used to cover the general concept. A convention is larger than a conference; it is a gathering of delegates representing several groups.
At a conference, innovative ideas are thrown about and new information is exchanged among experts. Its purpose could be one of the following:
- An academic conference is a gathering of scientists or academicians, where research findings are presented or a workshop is conducted.
- A business conference is held for people working in the same company or industry. They come together to discuss new trends and opportunities pertaining to the business
- A trade conference takes place on a larger scale. Besides businessmen, there are members of the public who come to network with vendors and made new connections. Such a conference consists of workshops and white paper presentations.
- An unconference differs from the traditional conference, since it avoids the high costs, top-down organizational hierarchy and sponsored presentations. All attendees are equally knowledgeable about the topic and the discussion follows an open mode; usually without a single speaker addressing the gathering.
Most conferences have one or more keynote speakers who will deliver the keynote speech. These are common at academic and business conferences. The speakers chosen are eminent personalities in the related field and their presence is meant to attract more people to attend the conference. There are various types of conferences:
- A symposium is a casual gathering and includes refreshments and entertainment.
- A seminar is organized to discuss a particular topic. They are usually educational in nature and attendees are expected to gain new knowledge or skills at the end of the seminar
- A workshop is more of a hands-on experience for the participants with demonstrations and activities; the amount of time one speaker addresses the group is limited
- A round-table conference is a get-together of peers to exchange thoughts and opinions on a certain topic, usually political or commercial. There are a limited number of participants who sit at a round table, so that each one can face all the others
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Top 10 things to consider when selecting a conference venue
The venue has a direct impact on the success of any function. If you have the right venue, you’re more than half way there. So if you’re hosting a conference, the biggest decision you’ll have to make, is where to host it. The team at Kievits Kroon Country Estate has vast experience with hosting all sorts of conferences, meetings and events and offers the following advice when choosing a venue:
Make sure that the venue is easily accessible for all delegates, taking into consideration that they may have to negotiate rush hour traffic to get there. If it’s difficult to find or too far off the beaten track, you may find that your delegates are late or arrive harassed and irritable, which is not a great way to start a conference.
Secure parking should be readily available for all delegates arriving in their own vehicles. Also check that there is coach parking, if you are providing transport, and that it is close to the venue.
3. Peace and tranquillity
A venue which is away from the bustle of the city will help to promote more creative and productive thinking. Being cooped up in a windowless room all day with no access to fresh air is not conducive to a receptive audience. Some out of town venues also offer the option of alfresco dining and outdoor teambuilding events.
4. The right size venue & break-away rooms
Ensure that the size of the conference room suits the number of delegates and your required seating arrangement. Don’t be tempted to force people to sit theatre style when they need to take notes and want to use laptops and iPads. Likewise, a conference room that is too big for the number of delegates will loose the intimacy required for interaction and sharing of ideas. If you are going to divide delegates into smaller groups for brainstorming sessions or smaller presentations, make sure that there are suitable break-away rooms close to the main venue. The ideal venue is one which offers a variety of different sized conference rooms.
There’s nothing worse than breaking for tea and finding a tray of limp, soggy sandwiches and wilted lettuce in the hallway, or being served a stodgy heavy meal at lunch time. Choose a venue that is known for supplying fresh, healthy food so that delegates return after the break feeling refreshed and ready for work again, not overfed and lethargic. The catering at the venue should also be able to meet the special dietary requirements for your delegates, including vegetarian, Kosher and Halaal meals.
6. Professional staff
Setting up a conference can be stressful and tiring but if you choose a venue which has professional support personnel , they will assist to make your company conference a slick, impeccable, successful event. The right staff can help with everything from check lists, menu selection and agenda setting to entertainment and team building.
These days high speed Wi-Fi at the venue is a priority, as is good audio-visual equipment. If your event requires more than the standard data projectors, screens and white boards, ensure that the venue is able to hire specialised technical equipment for you.
8. Good accommodation and facilities
Unless your conference is a one day event, you will need to provide comfortable accommodation for delegates. Ensure that the venue has the sufficient number of bedrooms and that where delegates are required to share, for budget purposes, twin beds are supplied. Your delegates will want to relax and unwind after a day’s conferencing, so choose a venue with an hospitable bar, a good restaurant, and possibly a spa with facilities like a sauna and Jacuzzi.
9. Wheelchair friendly
It goes without saying that the venue should cater for disabled delegates and have easy wheelchair access to the conference and breakaway rooms, accommodation, bars and facilities.
Ensure that all items are taken into account when budgeting for your conference so that when the final bill is presented you do not receive any nasty shocks. It’s a good idea to limit bar expenditure so that delegates pay for their own alcoholic drinks. Some venues offer all inclusive conference packages which make budgeting much simpler.
Copyright to www.kievitskroon.co.za
6 Conference Mistakes People Make as a delegate
1. The moment you’re scanning the program for the first time and it’s already Conference Day One
The conference mistake. Let’s face it, you haven’t done your research. You’re skim reading and putting stars beside every session. Lots of the presentations aren’t even in your field, but sure who knows what you might learn. Right?
Why is it important to avoid? Are you really going to attend and take useful notes on EVERY SESSION? And still have the energy for chatting enthusiastically about your work in the breaks? Hm, didn’t think so.
How to bring your A-game instead. Figure out in advance what you want to get from the conference. Are you interested in a particular research area or theme? Create a plan for attending only the sessions related to your work. And if there are delegates you’d like to meet, drop them a line now to see if they can spare a few minutes at the event. Plan ahead and it all gets easier.
2. The moment you get trapped in an endless discussion about the weather
The conference mistake. You’re discussing local weather patterns with other delegates instead of comparing research interests. We’ve all been there.
Why is it important to avoid? Often, the most interesting moments at conferences aren’t the sessions themselves, they’re the conversations that take place outside them. Plus, the people you’re mired in meteorological chit chat with could be on your hiring committee next month or on your grant review panel next year. So make these conversations count.
How to bring your A-game instead. Be ready to get the dialogue ball rolling. Have a few questions to ask about what they’re working on right now or what they’ve found most interesting at the conference. Arm yourself with some lines and be brave.
3. The moment you miss the opportunity to speak to your research hero
The conference mistake. You’re in the same room as the most influential researcher in your field but you can’t get time with them. Maybe they’re deep in conversation with other conference delegates. Or you decided to doorstep them before or after their presentation and didn’t manage to get much beyond, “Hi…”
Why is it important to avoid? How often will you get the chance to ask this person about the implications of their findings? Or tell them how their work has influenced yours?
How to bring your A-game instead. Get in touch in advance to ask if you could grab a few minutes when it suits them. (Hint: the time when they’re preparing to give a presentation – or being mobbed after giving one – is not that time.) Then, make sure you have something of value to say. This sounds obvious, but if you’re likely to get tongue-tied, plan what you’ll say in advance. Now go get ‘em.
4. The moment you watch someone’s eyes glaze over while you explain your work in unnecessary detail
The conference mistake. Someone’s asked about your work and you’ve galloped off on a lengthy explanation of it. You’re getting the distinct impression you’ve left them at the starting gate.
Why is it important to avoid? The power of conferences lies in the chance connections they open up to you. If you can succinctly explain the main points of your work to everyone you meet it could lead to good things for your work and your career.
How to bring your A-game instead. Have your elevator pitch sharpened and ready to go. But don’t leave it at one pitch. Think about how you’d explain your work to someone who doesn’t share your area of expertise. And what details you’d want to highlight for someone who does. Be prepared and you won’t be caught off guard.
5. The moment you’re dead on your feet but you’re not even halfway through the conference program
The conference mistake. You’ve reached information overload and now your brain is melting.
Why is it important to avoid? Trying to squeeze too much into your conference experience isn’t doing yourself any favors. Your notes will be shoddy, you won’t take a whole lot in and you won’t have the energy to network your socks off.
How to bring your A-game instead. Pace yourself. Are there talks that aren’t relevant to your area of expertise? Skip them. Then use the time for reflection, note-taking or just stepping outside to get some air. Do your prep so you can stay sharp.
6. The moment you don’t follow up on your conference leads
The conference mistake. You saw some great presentations and spoke to lots of interesting folks. But now it’s a few weeks later and you’re starting to wonder, “What did I actually get out of attending that conference?”
Why is it important to avoid? Conferences are the best avenue you have to grow your circle of colleagues and be influenced by new findings in your field. If you don’t act on what you learned you’re missing a great opportunity.
How to bring your A-game instead. Conferencing means getting a LOT of information in a short period of time. Give yourself the space to process everything. Jot down your impressions as soon as you can and make a list of tasks based on who you met and what you learned. When you get home, start completing them. Seize the moment.
Bringing Your A-game to Your Next Research Conference
Bring your A-game to your next conference and see the difference a bit of preparation and strategic thinking can make. You’ve got this.
Copyright to https://www.exordo.com
Your event is doing fine. You sell the same amount of tickets every year, more or less. You’ve got the production dialed. Sure, there’s competition, and you’ll keep your eye on it.
But could you be doing better?
It’s so easy to fall into a status quo of event operation. It takes gumption to make big changes. But in the hyper-competitive event world, “good enough” is no longer good enough. Today, people attending events of all types expect engaging experiences, memorable takeaways, and technology that always works.
If you identify with any of the five items on this list, you’re putting yourself at risk of an event failure.
1. Last year was great — let’s just repeat it!
On the one hand, it’s wise to come up with an entertainment model that works and stick to it. This both streamlines your efforts and gives people a predictable sense of your brand. They know that your festival, conference, or show will always feature a certain type of speaker or performer.
But if you do the exact same thing year after year, attendees will eventually get bored. The key to repeat events is always balancing the familiar with the new. Revisit your performers, vendors, and sponsors every year to stay fresh and current.
One great way to keep your finger on the cultural pulse is to quiz and poll attendees both before and after events. Using an app like SurveyMonkey can make it easy to collect and sort through answers. Online surveys can tell you what your attendees would like added to the mix, and what they’re kinda sick of.
2. Your venue is… fine
You’ve always gone for the most obvious choice: a hotel that hosts conventions, or the nearest arena. It might be a wee bit too small, or slightly too big. But you’re not Goldilocks; it’s fine. Right?
Well, not necessarily. When you’re not sure how many people will show up, it’s tempting to opt for a big space just in case. But a half-empty room can be demoralising for a live music act or a conference speaker. And that vibe has a trickle-down effect on attendees. After all, they came for the feel-good vibe.
Aside from size, a venue can be wrong for lots of other reasons. Perhaps the location makes it hard for people to get there on public transportation, and the parking options suck. Or your demographic is uber-hip, but the conference room you’ve rented is ultra-square.
Don’t just assume you have to settle for the same old space you always have. When evaluating venues, think outside the norm. Non-traditional event venues like airport hangars or greenhouses can infuse your event with real indie spirit and give people sweet shots for Instagram, too.
3. You consider Wi-Fi a “nice to have”
Unless your event is a silent meditation retreat, wireless internet is non-negotiable. Giving attendees access to the internet isn’t just a nice perk. It ensures that they can post, tweet, Snapchat, and blog about you while they’re in the moment and excited about their experience — without having to rely on their expensive data plans.
Modern event-goers are interactive, so don’t stifle their ability to communicate and share. Always opt for the most powerful option.
4. You don’t have a backup connection for your check-in tech
There’s another reason Wi-Fi is a must-have for event organisers, of course. If you’re relying on ticketing technology that uses an internet connection, you can’t afford for it to go down or get diluted by hundreds or thousands of people on the network at once.
For this reason, look for ticketing and other types of event technology that has offline capability. Things happen, and if you somehow lose your internet signal, it shouldn’t hold up your ability to check in attendees and allow them to make purchases. Eventbrite’s Organiser app, for instance, ensures easy ticket scanning for event-goers even when the Wi-Fi is out.
5. You’re settling for subpar ticketing options
You’ve always used paper tickets, and you love how quaint and old-school they are. Or you built a custom in-house ticketing system, and despite the flaws and snafus, you’re so heavily invested that you feel stuck with it. But it’s not really working. Your team is pouring time and effort into maintenance, and you suspect you’re losing ticket sales.
If you’re not using a modern digital ticketing solution, you’re probably suffering needlessly. Processes that should be automated aren’t, and you’re missing out on valuable data you could be gathering about your participants.
And yes, you’re probably also missing out on ticket sales, because the process of buying tickets isn’t seamless for consumers. Did you know that 25% of potential ticket-buyers will close a browser window instead of buying a ticket if they’re forced to create an account? People often bail on online ticket purchases if they have too many steps or don’t work properly on a mobile device.
The best modern ticketing solutions save you time by automating repetitive tasks and taking the burden of system maintenance out of your domain. They save you money, too, because they sell more tickets for pretty low overhead. And they’re often integrated with other best-in-class technology solutions that help you extend the reach of your marketing and your distributed commerce options.
copyright to www.eventbrite.com
5 Steps to Measure the Success of Your Event
Selling a lot of tickets is certainly a good measuring stick for evaluating the success of your event though it’s just one of many barometers. It’s important that you have some way of gauging event success in order to make the next one even better.
You should have multiple methods in mind well before the event’s planning phase even begins.
1. Monitor Social Media Activity
It’s a given that you should be active on social media in the days leading up to the event. This will get attendees excited and talking about it on their own social network channels. You need to continue to closely monitor social media activity after the event.
Do attendees continue to send out posts using the event hashtag or posts? Are your followers more active than usual on your company channel? Also, read the posts to know what attendees are actually saying. Are the posts full of praise? Were there more than a few common complaints? You can use a tool like Instagram to monitor social media activity.
Additionally, you can also follow up with special incentives as a thank you for those who attended. The number of guests that take advantage of the offer is another way of measuring how well the event went.
2. Post Event Surveys
If you want to know how attendees felt about the event, just ask them. The simplest way to do this is through a post event survey. The typical “unlikely or likely” questions work well here? You can ask questions like:
After attending the event, are you more or less likely to recommend company products and services to family and friends?
Are you more or less likely to attend the next event?
Having attended the event, are you more or less likely to buy product X during its launch?
For questions that received a “less likely” or “very unlikely” response, you should provide a response box for respondents to explain their reasoning.
With surveys, you have more than a general idea of the attendees’ perception. This helps you identify weak points (e.g. insufficient venue, lack of entertainment) that could be improved on. Remember, even if you sold every ticket, can you really say the event was a success if guests felt the event was just “meh” or so-so at best?
3. Measure Revenue/Return vs Overhead Cost
If you are organizing a corporate event, the purpose is to create branding and new customers. It’s also about bringing in additional revenue. To make money, though, you have to spend money, and it’s possible to spend more money than you bring in if the event ends up being a bomb.
Essentially, you should measure parameters like:
Anticipated cost vs actual cost
Anticipated revenue vs actual revenue
Actual cost vs actual revenue
Keep in mind, though, that going slightly over the budget and/or earning slightly less revenue than anticipated does not automatically make the event a failure. You may, for example, not have brought in as much revenue as anticipated but did acquire a far above an average number of signatures to be included to your email newsletters. That’s scores of potential new clients right there, some of which may be repeated customers and bring in residual income for many years to come.
Another aspect to measure is the efficiency in planning your event. Did you spend too much time to handle tedious event logistics like preparing name badges, repeatedly updating event websites, emailing back-end-forth to collect speakers’ information, promoting your event, etc? To save money and time, consider how you can do better next time. One idea is to automate some of those tasks with all-in-one event management system or event management software offered for free for customers or request more information.
4. Sales Numbers
Monitor your sales numbers in the weeks following an event. Is there an uptick in the figures? Also, keep track of who are making the purchases. Are they mostly repeat customers, first-time consumers that attended the event, or past customers that returned after an absence?
Don’t just look at the sales numbers. You can also measure the number of sign-ups for a trial service or signups for your newsletters. On top of that, also gauge the number of email or phone call inquiries.
Lastly, do you already have the next event planned and announced after the first event? If you do, are people already reserving their tickets or at least indicating an interest?
5. Incorporate an Event App
Remember, it’s all about streamlining for yourself and your attendees. Incorporate an event mobile app, which is designed for event planners in mind. The service lets users customize their own event app and networking tool.
With Apps, users can:
Include their event schedule or agenda in the app for staffers and attendees to view
Allow guests to personalize their own schedules and set reminders
Allow guests to post comments and feedback for event planners and guest speakers
Store, scan, and exchange digital business cards
Embed company and sponsor banners
Send announcements in real time, such as changes in schedule or parking space availability
With the ability to send surveys and receive comments, you can gauge attendee satisfaction right as the event is in progress.
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6 Conference Trends You Need To Know
If you haven’t been to a conference in a few years you’re in for a big surprise. These once stiff, white-collared, corporate events are changing, and have seriously raised the bar on everything from styling to attendee engagement.
‘Engagement’ has been the buzz word for event planners and marketers for some time now. It has permeated every communication channel as companies look to create new and exciting experiences. Events have become the perfect playing field to really engage audiences and give companies a direct connection with their consumers.
Those companies that invest, pave the way for a more enriching and memorable experience for their customers and are likely to turn them into lifelong advocates. The next question then becomes, how are companies turning their conference into an invigorating and unique experience?
Read on to learn more about six of the hottest corporate event trends this year.
1. 2 Venues, 1 Location
One of the most costly expenses in event planning is venue hire. Over the past few decades we've seen conference venue trends do a full circle. In the 80's and 90's it was all about hosting your conference in big hotel ballrooms, followed by some polite small talk and canapés at the post event drinks in some non-descript location just outside the conference room. Coming into the new millennium, conference planners were getting creative and hosting conferences in unique venues or utilising multiple venues to suit each section of the day. These 'hybrid' events would typically host the information-rich agenda in a hotel meeting space after which attendees were then directed to a unique venue for the informal networking part of the event. Whilst this 'hybrid' event is still very popular and provides attendees with a great experience, it isn't the most cost-effective way to host a corporate event. We're now experiencing a convergence of these two trends, where event planners choose a hotel venue that has enough variety in its meeting spaces to mimic the split locations whilst remaining in the one venue. Instead of relying on a new venue to inject interest, event planners are turning to new immersive-themed rooms and styling to do the heavy lifting.
Why this works: It goes without saying hiring one venue instead of two is a massive cost-saving already. Using two spaces within the one hotel and investing in theming and styling is a great way to ensure you’re giving guests the best environment for each agenda whilst maximising your budget. Hotel meeting spaces give you the AV support and space needed to deliver your key messages and support your speakers. Once the formalities are over, your guests can move to another space within the venue for the next section of the conference whether that be a sit-down gala dinner or styled cocktail event. Encore Event Technologies recently delivered the annual conference for one of Australia's largest professional services organisation. Part of the brief was to deliver an exceptional formal conference experience for 300 employees as well as a unique and spectacular gala dinner post conference. To maximise the budget, Encore Event Technologies used Hilton Sydney's ballroom to host the main conference agenda. Once the conference conclude, guests were ushered out into a beautifully styled holding room for cocktails and canapés while the Encore Event Technologies team transformed the conference room into a fully immersive 'Vintage Carnival' themed gala dinner complete with live circus acts and interactive carnival booths.
This is a win-win both the brand and the guests. It creates a lasting impression on attendees, which is key to continuous attendance and conference longevity.
We recommend using Venue Locator to source your ideal conference venue.
2. Design Immersive Conferences
Gone are the days of a stuffy ballroom, lined with endless rows of chairs and a small stage. Corporate conferences are turning to styled, immersive themes to ramp up the atmosphere, provide talking points and truly immerse guests in their brand. After all, events are one of the only occasions a brand has an uninterrupted interaction with their target market. So they’d better make the most of it.
We’ve mentioned Immersive Events in previous styling trend reports and they’re fiercely becoming the norm for corporate events. If you’re not adopting this new event planning mindset, you’re in danger of being left behind. Immersive Events are where styling, audio visual, digital, staging and design services merge into one harmonious environment. It’s about using these services in combination to truly transform your event into a branded experience.
Why this works: A conference is the ultimate marketing event for a company. Whether it’s a corporate, training, education, or a sales conference, organisations need planners to design events that build brand loyalty and drive advocacy. Effectively branding an event builds attendee engagement that translates into increased connection. In addition, aligning your message with a theme provides a tangible vehicle to carry your message across all touch points. From the invites, to the entrance, room decor, multimedia content and post event communications. For example, we recently worked with Capital S.M.A.R.T. for their annual sales conference. The objective of the conference was to recognise the company’s achievements of doubling their revenue celebrate their 7th anniversary and set the direction for 2017. Therefore, it was very fitting for the conference theme to be 007 Bond. This theme was integrated into every aspect and became the creative ‘glue’ that tied everything into one cohesive message.
3. Encourage Attendee Engagement
Our third corporate event trend we’re seeing in 2015 and which will definitely become common place in 2016 is attendee engagement – that ‘engagement’ buzzword again. This means event planners are actively seeking new strategies and technologies to encourage two-way conversations with attendees, driving participation and building a positive brand experience rather than asking them to sit and listen for hours on end.
Increasing engagement can come in a variety of forms. Today’s event planners are ditching PowerPoint slides for total engagement activities such as live social feeds, video conferencing, audience polling, on-site bloggers, event-specific apps, event hashtags and much more.
Why this works: Encouraging your attendees to participate and share ideas results in a much richer experience for your guests and allows event hosts to unearth insights and gain valuable feedback that mightn't have been possible without the audience participation. Increasing engagement translates into better overall experiences. By becoming active participants, attendees are more likely to gain knowledge and skills than by simply being spectators.
4. WOW with High-Tech
Events are the perfect playground for showing off your brand and wow-ing guests with the latest technology. When it comes to creating truly unique and personalised experiences, technology is your best friend. Having free Wi-Fi is no longer a nice add-on, it’s an expectation. So what are conference organisers turning to surprise and delight their attendees:
- Event apps featuring presentation and workshop schedules
- Real-time social media integration on-screen
- In-app scheduling and communication capabilities
- GPS event locator and navigation assistance
- On-demand video feeds and special keynote webcasts
- Live audience polling and contests
- Personalised push notifications (think meeting agenda or announcements)
- Real-time language translations
Even projection mapping was used at recent Aussie Home Loans Sales Conference we produced to add a huge wow-factor to their event.
Why this works: Technology bridges the gap between the event and the individual guest experience. Utilising event apps and social media allows you to effectively communicate to your guests and provide instant updates. Technology and innovative audio-visual solutions provide a cost-effective solution for engaging and create last impressions.
5. Build an Event Community
Brands invest huge amounts of their marketing budget into growing and nurturing a solid community of brand advocates. It therefore makes perfect sense to treat events as a sub-brand which has its own community where people with common interests and likes come together. Building this fan-base takes a lot of time and effort and has changed the life-cycle of the traditional event. It’s no longer just the event day itself, event planners need to consider the journey months before the event, the event itself, and then post-event follow ups and content. The overarching objective? Keeping their audience engaged and coming back year after year.
Your event hype plan usually starts with creating the necessary channels and touch points where your community can grow and interact. The heavy weights here are an event Facebook page, YouTube / Vimeo channel for your video content, Instagram and Twitter account and a dedicated branded event hashtag. Utilising these channels to house engaging content provides you with a cohesive platform to keep your event community engaged throughout the event life-cycle.
A great strategy for growing your event community is to use a social media integration platform. We’ve included Event Tweet as part of our digital portfolio for this exact reason – it captures your event’s entire social conversation across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter via a dedicated hashtag and displays them instantly on screen for all to see.
Why this works: Positive word-of-mouth is the holy grail of marketing. If you can create and sustain a dedicated community of enthusiasts for your event, you are tapping into a rich source of insights, free advertising and invaluable instant feedback. In the past, event planners would rely on paid advertising to promote the event and would only be able to review all event happenings weeks after the event ended to learn what was successful and what wouldn't be used next year.
6. Embrace Green Events
Going ‘green’ isn't just a phenomenon we’re experiencing in the food and beverage industry. Companies that demonstrate they’re environmentally conscious are also reaping the benefits of positive brand operations. This year we’re seeing a lot of corporate events taking on a ‘local, organic and sustainable’ approach to their event planning. This mindset is being adopted across every possible facet of the event, from environmentally conscious AV and staging processes, down to local and organic catering, as well as using recycled and sustainable materials to design, communicate and run the event.
Why this works: In some cases, going ‘green’ can be very profitable as people are generally happy to forgo higher quality / luxuries for the sake of being environmentally conscious – think recycled paper, more efficient energy and recycling processes, cardboard chairs etc. Aside from the obvious benefits of a demonstrating corporate social responsibility, it allows companies to build relationships with new audiences via this common interest and strengthen ties with existing customers.
The corporate event scene is experiencing a huge overhaul. Audiences demand interaction, immersion and innovation. The great thing is, it’s being driven by a common need to discover and improve ways to engage audiences and communicate the event message effectively. This means, it’s a landscape that is forever changing. When organising your next event, make sure you consider these 6 trends to ensure you’re conference is hitting the mark and ensuring the longevity of your event.
Conference Breakout Session Ideas: 4 Ways to Engage Your Attendees
Today’s conference planning isn’t just about booking speakers and organizing educational sessions – it’s about engaging your attendees and creating an experience they’ll never forget. In today's digital age especially, brainstorming conference breakout session ideas should be at the top of your to-do list.
Here are four ways to create an experience, not just organize an event.
1. Strategic Speed Networking:
Put a twist on traditional speed networking events and add an element of strategy with advanced matching software. Rather than having your attendees rotate one to the right, event planners can utilize matching software to create strategic meetings between participants who have shared interests. Que more meaningful connections and better business relationships!
How does it work? It’s easy.
When participants sign up for the session, they’ll be asked to fill out a survey detailing the types of people they want to meet with based on categories put together by you—the event planner.
They can rate each category—which could include things like areas of interest within the industry, job title, geographical location, experience in the field, and more—from strongly interested to not at all interested.
Once registration closes, the matching software uses an advanced algorithm to pair people together based on their unique, individual preferences. The algorithm takes all of the survey responses into account to create the best possible meetings for each attendee.
At the event, each attendee will be given their personalized schedule, which provides contact information, company name, background information, and starter questions to help kick off the conversations.
Not only does this type of strategic speed networking enhance the quality of connections for your event-goers, it also greatly increases the quantity of connections compared to more traditional networking event formats.
In fact, a traditional 90-minute networking event with 100 participants generates around 300 new connections on average, but a Speed Networking event produces more than 1,000 new connections in the same amount of time. That’s 333% more meetings!
2. Targeted Round Tables:
Roundtables are nothing new in the world of trade shows and events, but targeted roundtables have started to grow in popularity in recent years. As technology continues to improve the ways we can connect attendees, consider targeted roundtables as a conference breakout session idea.
Group settings such as these allow for meaningful discussions, debates, and serve as a way to encourage connection and collaboration among conference-goers. But rather than randomly seating your attendees—or spending hours, if not days, in excel trying to manually create seating arrangements—use technology to create more targeted roundtables.
The best part? More strategic seating assignments are just a click away. Just provide participant data and decide how you want to group your attendees and the technology will take it from there.
And targeted roundtables aren’t just another networking option – they can also be used for luncheons, dinners, team building activities, workshops, and pretty much anything else that focuses on face-to-face interactions.
With targeted roundtables, you can work smarter, not harder.
3. Scavenger Hunts:
Get people moving and grooving with a scavenger hunt! Not only are scavenger hunts fun, they can be completely wrapped up in your conference theme and organizational culture.
WildGoose, for example, uses their scavenger know-how combined with an award-winning technology to put together customizable scavenger hunts designed specifically for large conferences and tradeshows. Whether you want to keep your attendees within the walls of your convention center or encourage them to explore the city streets, their app is designed to increase engagement and interaction.
Points can be given for a wide range of things including visits to exhibition booths, photo-ops, etc. As an added incentive, offer a prize to the winning team. This could be anything from tech and tools relating to your industry or something that's just for fun.
4. Human Bingo:
Help your attendees get to know one another in a laid-back setting with a game of human bingo. Prepare a standard 5x5 bingo matrix for each attendee and fill in the boxes with a mix of personal and professional statements to help attendees learn more about the people around them.
Some examples include:
Has attended this conference before
Has the same job title as you
Has been at the same company for 10+ years
Doesn’t know anyone else at the conference
Works for a company with 1-10 people
Works for a company with 100-500 people
Works for a company with 1,000+ people
Has taken a vacation within the last 6 months
Has climbed a mountain
Has met a famous person
Whatever you chose, try to think of things that are specific to your industry. What interests your attendees and what will really get the conversations flowing?
At the session, hand out the cards to attendees and have them interview their fellow participants with the goal of getting B-I-N-G-O.
We advise offering a prize or swag item to every participant that gets a bingo rather than making it a contest to see who can get it first. This way, you can encourage more socializing and conversations rather than just quick questions.
After enough time is given, consider letting your attendees continue the conversations with a mix and mingle cocktail event. This way, they can circle back to those they met with and continue building upon those connections.
At the end of the day, considering conference breakout session ideas all comes down to creating a more personal experience that is engaging, interactive, and informative. These sessions should be different from the other activities you’re offering and should focus on smaller groups within the conference, hence the word “breakout”. And we can’t stress enough how important adding in an element of face-to-face interactions is in today’s digital world. In fact, according to the Center for Association Leadership (ASAE), 96% of people said face-to-face interactions are the most important part of developing and maintaining strong relationships.
Whatever you decide, be sure to collect conference feedback so you can continue improving your event year-after-year. And if you have any other conference breakout session ideas, be sure to drop them in the comments below.
Here’s to creating an experience, not just organizing an event.
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