Pretty much everybody nowadays has the capability to work remotely. So how come, even for a business event, there are always 101 reasons why we can’t leave the office…?
In a time-poor, always-on, increasingly competitive work environment, getting delegates away from the office to attend your event, however relevant, is a constant challenge.
But take heart from this Content Marketing Institute stat. When technology allows us to connect with colleagues, clients or customers anywhere in the world, 24/7, UK marketers have rated face to face events as their most effective lead generation activity for four successive years. People like face-to-face interaction in business as much as they do personally. They find it productive, a great way to share ideas, and simply, sociable.
You’ve just got to get them there in the first place.
You’ve worked hard to make your event a must-attend occasion in terms of its content. Now you need to make it unmissable in terms of overall delegate experience.
So just for a moment, imagine you’re a time-pressured delegate with project deadlines to meet and a presentation to the board to finish by eop Friday. How can you possibly justify a day out of the office? Even when several of the sessions are directly relevant to your role, the day job must take priority.
Think like your customer and you can instantly see the problems you need to solve. Now you can start to create an environment where delegates can stay productive while missing nothing of the sessions they really want to hear. Here are 6 tips to help you create a truly awesome delegate experience.
1. Create an out-of-office zone
Provide a space where, in between sessions, delegates can continue to work on current projects, answer email, relay conference learnings to their teams, make calls. In short, give them the opportunity to do everything they could be doing if they were still at their desk.
2. Keep them connected
Free, fast and easily accessible wifi is mandatory and non-negotiable – with enough bandwidth to accommodate large volumes of users; plenty of charging stations is advisable; and a variety of integrated tabletop charging and plug-in stations would be greatly appreciated. Go the extra mile. Busy people need to feel able to connect with (and be contacted by) colleagues at any time and often at a moment’s notice.
3. Create comfort stations
Sometimes, somewhere to relax is all you need. Create informal areas with comfortable, even movable, seating – it’s a place to open up, discuss the day, recharge (people and devices!), or simply take the weight off your feet while you enjoy your takeaway coffee.
4. Show them what they’re missing
Install screens in the working and/or comfort zones so delegates don’t need to miss an entire session if they can’t sit in (but be mindful of disturbing those needing a quiet space in which to work – supply headphones if sessions can be screened via smartphone).
5. Rethink your session environment
Instead of the usual, theatre-style seating and the often uncomfortable, venue-supplied furniture, why not bring in clustered seating, or even sofas. Overheard at Digital Bootcamp Singapore: “Wow this is the first conference I’ve been to like this – it’s actually really comfortable!” – sometimes it’s the little things that make it memorable…
6. Challenge the norm
Could your entire event be focussed more on customer needs than on your business priorities? How about a 10am start so that delegates can avoid the worst of the early morning rush, or get urgent actions out of the way before they leave the office? Can you rethink your registration process to avoid lengthy queuing times?
When your delegates feel that they’ve had a worthwhile experience – when they’ve learned something new from great sessions and great speakers, when they don’t feel exhausted or stressed; when they’ve made valuable new contacts, and got the stats they needed for that presentation; and when they’re still on track to meet project deadlines… then you’ve run an event that delivers on many, many levels.
And when you change delegates’ perception of your event in such a positive way, you greatly increase the likelihood that they’ll share their experience with colleagues and contacts – which makes your job a whole lot easier when it comes to promoting the next one.