How to Create an Experience not just a Conference
Mention the word conference a decade ago and it would have brought up memories of stuffy, windowless hotel function rooms. Rows of lecture style seating and endless presentation after presentation about the latest [insert whatever relevant industry] developments delivered in ‘death by powerpoint’ style.
Not any more.
Conferences are a chance to delight, entertain and inspire your attendees (as well as pick up the obligatory PD points). Nowadays conferences can be more like mini-festivals. So how can you make sure that your next event is truly an experience and not just a conference?
Think about how to make your audience comfortable
We’re not talking literally about the types of chairs you use (although, if you can take that into consideration, a comfortable chair makes a world of difference during long presentations) but we’re talking about thinking through how your audience will feel welcomed and comfortable throughout the whole conference experience.
You can start this well before the conference day itself in the way that you communicate with your delegates. Think about the information that you give them and the support in knowing exactly where they should be, at what point in time, and what they are going to get from being a part of the event.
When an attendee arrives, consider how they are likely to be feeling. Are they going to know anyone at the conference? Are they dreading that pre-event ‘networking’ session that is due to start any second? Do they know where to go? The first impression at the registration table can really set the tone for the rest of the experience so ensure that you have your friendliest people on ‘check in’ duty to make your attendees feel immediately like they are going to have a great time.
Consider your venue choice carefully
Attendees (rightly so) are pushing back on the windowless boxes of a room in which many conferences of old were held. Natural light and lots of it is very much the order of the day, as is space, and openness, and areas where attendees can move freely.
Choosing a venue where you can host break out sessions and get outside for fresh air is paramount in ensuring that your delegates stay alert and energised (and vitally, want to keep coming back year after year because of their positive conference experience).
Take your attendees on a journey
Not a literal journey but think about the whole conference experience from their eyes. Walk through the whole thing from start to finish to capture any gaps where you may need to give your delegates more information or increase the engagement be that pre- during- or post-conference.
Can you send snippets of some of the presentations they are going to see so they will start to get excited about the speakers? Maybe you can even pre-order activities or lunch!… What about sending recordings of the session post-event so that attendees can re-watch parts they may have missed, and so that they can be fully present and attentive during the day instead of trying to take notes?
What are the speaker sessions themselves?
The speaking circuit is big business nowadays and there are many companies acting as agents between speakers and conference organisers. You can pretty much find a speaker for any topic or expertise area you so desire.
Gone are the days of boring lecture style presentation. Think panel discussions, great debates, ‘pitch fests’, Q&A sessions, masterclasses or Ted-style rapid fire talks.
Bring the festival-atmosphere
As conferences become more like mini-festivals (thanks to the likes of large scale events such as SXSX (South By Southwest) it has become as much about the food, and the music, and the entertainment as it has about the information.
What extras touches can you bring in that introduce these other elements to build on the overall conference experience of the attendee?
Here at The Pavilion Kiama we work closely with conference organisers to elevate their conference experience and ensure attendees are wowed. We are so lucky that being in the stunning location we are, right on the beach the venue and location pieces are already taken care of with swathes of natural light, open space and room options. But for the little touches and to ensure that your conference is an experience then we are here and ready to serve.
Find out more about the conference packages available from one of the leading conference providers on the South Coast, NSW, or call the team on 02 4232 1419 to arrange a walk around of the event spaces available to you in this unique venue.