[Procurement departments] are not necessarily evaluating the importance of the delegate experience or the content. They are really just going for value for their dollar.”
- Antonio Hermosilla, CEO of GP Destination Management
MPI Meetings Outlook Summer 2014
Creating the best attendee experience should be the starting and ending point of all planning. Everything, including budget, should be passed through this filter, and in turn the attendee experience should match up with the goals and objectives of the meeting.
The components of meetings are like the departments on a film. Everything is better when everyone on a film, from the cast to the wardrobe department, direction, lights, sound, writers etc. everyone is focused on creating the best audience experience. The same is true for meetings.
Hopefully, all departments are also focused on having the best time so that they benefit from the Power of Play, because you want as much magic in your movies and meetings as possible. Play is one of the best ways to reliably generate magic. In movies, so that you can better affect the audience, and in meetings, so that you can better affect or engage your attendees.
A meeting, however, has even more opportunities to create engagement, and satisfaction than a movie because it is live, interactive, and specifically targeted. Meaning, we are able to actively customize for, and respond to, unique attendees - the exact audience the meeting was created for.
So how do we best affect the attendees?
First, let's play a game. What do you think the #1 goal of attendees at conferences is? Education? Networking? Inspiration? A chance to get away? Finding out the newest trends? An opportunity to go shopping?
The #1 goal is networking. Education is #3. But that’s the average and until you talk to your unique client, you won’t know. (I bet you are all wondering what #2 is! - It isn't shopping. I'll tell you in Part 2 :)
Creating the best attendee experience is determined after finding out the goals, objectives, brand, and culture of the unique client and attendees.
Rule #1: Ask First.
Rule #2: Customize Everything.
You have this incredible opportunity to make your meeting both content and format specific (customized) so that it can best engage your unique attendees - and because it's live, you can adapt on the fly as the meeting unfolds.
That's something that movies can't do. :)
And it isn't that hard - it just takes a change of focus mostly. (And, done properly, it can be much more fun.)
Stay tuned for Part 2:
- active learning,
- network heavy,
model that keeps the focus directly on the attendees and their experience. (And makes them part of their own learning! - That's sort of a bonus. On top of a bonus, really.)
Can't wait to see you in Part 2.