Sunday, December 23, 2012

The 12 Days of Conference - Day Thirteen

Over the past twelve days this blog was graced by informative posts about the meetings industry by a variety of guest bloggers.  "The 12 Days of Conference" turned out to be more than I expected, so today I wrap it up with the last post (yes, Day Thirteen.... always provide more than is expected!)

CLICK HERE to read the whole "12 Days of Conference" series!

Give Them More Than They Are Expecting
by Thom Singer

When you are planning an event (or doing anything), make sure that you are providing more than your attendees expect.  Too often we are conditioned to expect less than promised, so when something exceeds expectations the "WOW FACTOR" goes way up.  People enjoy positive surprises, so a little extra in the "Conference Attendee Experience" will have a lasting impact..

What you provide will vary from event to event, but you should look for ways to be sure that your conference is not a "cookie cutter" experience from the earliest promotions to the after-event follow up.

Like "Day 13" of a twelve day series, when you add something unexpected, people will take notice (you are reading this right now. right?).  The result of going beyond the normal and providing an extra will always make your participants take notice.  When an event ends all your attendees have are the memories, thus you need to ensure up front that there is something that will stick in their brains.

Some ideas that can go beyond the normal:
  • Speakers and topics that are not the "same" as what are seen and heard at other events
  • Unique venues and decoration that spur creativity
  • Meaningful engagement of host organization staff with attendees
  • Creative meal experiences that encourage an atmosphere for networking and learning
  • A surprise program (not everything needs to be in the promotional materials)
  • Post-event online programs to keep people engaged
Be creative.  If you simply copy an add-on from other events, then it no longer will stand out.  Doing the same thing as others by definition is the same... not different.  This can be hard work, because being creative is not  easy.  (Sure, it looks easy when it is pulled off successfully).  There needs to be a commitment from all levels at the host organization to find ways to deliver something that will add value and serve the attendee community.

Playing it "safe" and "same" will not cause anyone to take notice.  The best event planners are risk takers, not those who are buried behind checklists that ensure all is just like last year.  Go beyond the expectations every single time, and your event will become a "happening".

Good luck!

(What ideas do you have to add here?)

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Thom Singer is known as "The Conference Catalyst". He works with meeting planners and conference organizers to set the tone for a meeting. His presentations educate, inspire and motivate attendees to engage deeper in the event and make meaningful connections. 

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