Conferences can be the highlight of your colleagues' working year.
They’re an opportunity escape the office and network in the spirit of best practice. They often come with hefty price tags which managers aren't always happy to pay, meaning the bill can be footed by the individual. This means that the expectation of value at a conference is higher than ever. Conference attendees have insatiable appetites for knowledge and are constantly demanding an exceptional experience. Keep reading for our top tips for hosting a conference that will leave your guests raving and coming back for more, year after year.
1. Know Your Client
Clarify your target audience to best cater to their interests and needs each step of the way. Would they prefer to receive a personalised email or will they be responsive to LinkedIn advertising? Are they more likely to respond to a casual or serious tone? Understanding what your client looks to gain from attending your conference will enable you to tailor how you pitch your event.
2. Welcoming Package
From the initial email, to the ice breaker, you must create a welcome package that makes a lasting first impression. Make entry and registration as smooth as possible with extra staff on hand and refreshments aplenty. Open with an arresting keynote address and an engaging MC who can hype the audience. Jump straight into morning team with an opportunity to network while energy is at its highest.
3. Do Things Differently
Dynamic venues and demanding client palettes mean conference clientele want more out of their experience. Mix it up and challenge the status quo by adding something new and novel to your conference. A cooking class for lunch; a yoga morning session; a speed-networking opportunity. Create a curated event for attendees that goes beyond the standard conference structure by thinking outside of the box when it comes to venue, catering and entertainment.
4. Get Outdoors
Breath fresh air and stimulate fresh ideas. Alternating between indoor and outdoor sessions a keep your audience engaged and excited for the duration of the conference. Consider leading groups on walking meetings, or offer a longer lunch session in a catered beergarden so that your attendees are recharged.
5. Fond Farewell
Don't end on a fizzer. A capstone event or speaker will round your conference off in a spirit of cooperation and inspiration. Goodiebags are another opportunity to engage sponsors meaningfully by encouraging them to contribute fun, relevant merchandise. Beyond that, the conference isn't over once your participants leave, consider sharing a wrap-up video, or facilitating more networking online. Even better, plan ahead so your most excited participants can book themselves in for next year.