Meeting planners can sometimes be resistant to change — what has worked for the last 10 years should work for the next 10, right? Not always. When your attendance numbers begin to dip and your exhibitors start to fall off, it’s time to take a step back and consider a fresh approach.
Here are nine ideas planners can implement now — before your numbers dwindle. A fresh approach takes some risk, but the more you get others involved in the process, the more successful the outcome will be.
Part of the process of creating change is to evaluate what worked and what did not in your last meeting. From those insights and other channels in which you receive feedback such as social media, emails and personal conversations, you and your team should be able to set clear and measurable goals for the conference. This set of goals should be your road map for new ideas.
Give Attendees a Choice
Ask attendees through a crowdsourcing method to recommend destinations, venues, presenters and topics. Once you have gathered all their recommendations, put the options up for a vote. There are many great crowdsourcing apps, but we highly recommend All Our Ideas. The best part is … it’s free!
Ditch the standard PowerPoint presentations and secure dynamic, entertaining presenters who can deliver a great message encapsulated in a story.
Save Your Best Speakers for Last
Turn your agenda on its end and schedule the best presenters right after lunch and/or at the end of the day.
Mix Up the Format
Create different presentation formats from stage speakers to panelists to facilitators and anything in between. The key is to change up the seating, lighting and presentation delivery. General sessions do not always have to be theater-style with lecture formats. Make your conference style unique to your group.
Create a Theme and Carry It Through
Many event organizers think themes are cheesy or childish, but we’re the first to disagree. If carried out correctly, a good theme can help bring energy into your event and make it very memorable to the attendee. The key is to carry the theme throughout the event — from the moment attendees arrive until the moment they depart the premises.
When people arrive at your meeting, chances are they don’t know each other very well, or in some cases not at all. Icebreakers are great ways to encourage networking and can be very easy to execute. Here are three simple, yet fun, options:
- As people check in to the conference, give them a slip of paper and ask them to answer one question. An example might be, “Write down the most interesting job you have ever had.” They can then deposit their response into a fishbowl. Once all slips are gathered, take one out at various times during the conference and ask attendees to guess who it is.
- Once attendees are seated at their conference tables, put enough pennies at the table so each person can have one. Ask them to randomly select from that penny pile and tell the other table members something interesting that happened to them on the year marked on the penny.
- Mix all the nametags in a fishbowl. Ask each attendee to pick one (not his or her own). Ask them to find the person on the nametag and exchange business cards.
Give Attendees a Voice
Open up your social channels; monitor and respond to questions, challenges and concerns. Create an event hashtag and encourage attendees to use it. Put staff and volunteers on the social media monitoring gig and train them how to respond in a timely and professional manner.
Provide Unique Networking Opportunities
Whether it be a 15-minute yoga/meditation session during one of your breaks or holding part of your conference outside, shaking it up with different activities allows attendees to network in a new way.
Kalahari Resorts and Conventions Is a Fresh, Unique Destination
At Kalahari, we are ready and willing to work with you on all the items listed above and brainstorm with you about even more ways to make your event special! Give us a call at 855.411.4605 to speak to one of our experienced sales professionals!