As the meetings industry continues to face new pressures, there is more need for business analysis to be embraced by planners. Business analysis is a research discipline of identifying business needs and determining solutions to business problems. Solutions often include a systems development component, but may also consist of process improvement, organizational change or strategic planning and policy development. In regards to meetings this must be also aligned with the needs of the people who are participating, not just the wants of the organizers.
Business Analysis does not happen by accident. There must be purposeful actions taken withing the organizational structure. The planner's goals for change must be aligned with the business goals of the conference, but also must always place a high emphasis on the "conference attendee experience".
There is a sea change happening in meetings. No longer is the "cookie cutter" meeting format enough to satisfy participants. People want meetings to have their own unique flair, but this means that copy-cat meeting design, even when using new methodologies for learning, will not hit the mark.
Seeking help for your meeting is important. There are many consultants who specialize in pushing planners beyond their comfort zone, and the results can be very engaging.
Getting your team on-board early in the identification of what makes your conference unique and working to project ways to engage your audience will lead to better results. The old way of agenda based planning will no longer work. Filling in speakers to open slots is not enough.
Additionally, a speaker who is simply an expert can leave the audience board. Certainly we expect those who present to provide content, but the speakers skill to include the audience in the presentation is not longer a "nice-to-have" --- it is a "must have"!
Annual meetings have to institute continual process assessment and document the areas where the conference has succeeded and failed. Learning and growing year over year is the only way to improve. There is a lot of competition for the attendees time and money, thus they are seeking the highest ROI in deciding where to be present.
Making a business case for advancements in your meeting structure is necessary for success. You have to dislodge the sacred cows. Too many stakeholders are risk adverse, and often fall back on the status quo. But it is not a bad thing to shake up the meeting format, and when done with purpose it can engage people more than keeping things the same each time.
When you take an informed chance on trying something new, people are very forgiving. Let attendees know your how you came to the conclusions for attempting the change, and make them part of the process. Even if an experiment fails, people are more likely to be accepting when they understand the steps that went into the creation of the event.
If your conference looks exactly the same as it has for several years, then you are overdue for analysis of your format, business structure and agenda.
Congregate your improvement team to scope out the possibilities and prepare the business case to make changes. To minimize risk, include people from the business, planning, finance, and attendee circles and brief everyone as to the desired working relationship. Successful brainstorming involves trust from all parties, and an understanding that all ideas are welcome.
It can also be a good idea to include vendors, including speakers, in your analysis structure, as they often see a variety of other conferences in their work and can bring a fresh outside perspective.
Document the strengths and weaknesses of your past events and record the areas that are most ready for change. Clarify your objectives and focus on what you are willing to change, and what you are not willing to touch. Change is good, but not simply for the sake of change!
All of us who work in the meetings industry need to give a closer look at our products and services and seek ways to bring more to the table for the participants. Planners, hoteliers, speakers, designers, entertainment, etc..... Everyone has to be under constant business analysis and seeking solutions.
Have A Great Day
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. http://www.conferencecatalyst.com