As you’re probably already aware, attendees want to be wowed, dazzled and entertained most of the time they’re at an event. According to the IACC, 75 percent of planners polled stated the task of “experience creation” is part of their job compared with just five years ago, when it wasn’t even on their radar.

PA outdoor groups

But what exactly does the term “event experience” mean? Again, according to the IACC, meeting planners are looking at the following when evaluating a venue:

  • Meeting rooms that foster creativity
  • Themed food and beverages
  • Interactive icebreakers
  • Use of outdoor spaces
  • Team-building engagement
  • Going to sporting or destination-based activities

Here are a few tried and true ways to make your meeting or event extra-special and things to avoid along the way.

DO create an element of surprise.

Whether you’re holding a one-day or multiday event, it’s important that you not reveal the entire conference agenda to attendees. You can change up your conference by offering:

  • Local food and beverage choices
  • The CEO of your company as one of your speakers
  • Different types of entertainment; for example, a local comedian or high school jazz band
  • Out-of-the-box activities — a spa day, time in a waterpark or a bus trip to a national attraction

DON’T try to schedule every minute.

Be sure to leave downtime and natural social interaction as part of the program. Trying to overschedule your attendees, even with fun components, can feel a little like being back in school and leave them drained at the end of the conference.

DO develop a theme.

A themed event creates curiosity and fun about the function. For example, in May you can hold a:

  • Cinco de Mayo event with Mexican music, décor, food and attire
  • Baseball-themed event with ballpark food and a behind-the-scenes tour of a major-league park just before a game
  • In honor of the birthday of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (May 22), author of the Sherlock Holmes series, a “Who did it?” theme with a scavenger hunt or murder mystery component

DON’T have everything inside.

As the weather becomes warmer, try to take at least a few of your sessions and networking events outside. Consider offering the following:

  • Healthy activities such as walking, yoga or meditating
  • Evening reception
  • General session or breakout meetings
  • Meal — boxed lunch or buffet dinner

Outdoor space at a meeting venue was considered important by 63 percent of the IACC respondents.

DO try different meeting formats.

Consider very different presentation options, especially if your conference is typically slide- heavy. Here are some effective ones many planners are using:

  • Ban PowerPoint. Presenters need to speak from notes and/or demonstrate information via video, live demonstrations or hands-on sessions.
  • Use TED or PechaKucha presentation methods. While both methods still use presentation software, they have very limited time boundaries.
  • Allow for peer-driven presentations. Rather than have every time slot taken, put in place time slots in which attendees can join conversations and learn from each other.

DON’T lecture.

Try to make your meeting as interactive as possible. Hire facilitators instead of presenters. Storytellers instead of speakers. Lighten up and have some fun. Make sure your presenters are on the same page as you. The audience today will turn to their smartphone for entertainment value if they’re not getting it from your speakers.

DO try and “Starbucks” your space.

Look for meeting spaces that have the following:

  • Big windows that let in lots of light
  • Live green plants
  • Reliable Wi-Fi and technology
  • Great coffee
  • Charging stations
  • Access to whiteboards, markers, paper and Post-it notes

Kalahari Has the Meeting Space for You

The team at Kalahari Resorts and Conventions will be happy to work with you on your next event and brainstorm ways that will deliver a great attendee experience. With indoor and outside meeting space, team-building activities and world-class waterparks, Kalahari is a natural choice for business, group and leisure events. Give one of our experienced group sales professionals a call today at 855.411.4605 for more information!