Meetings are ever evolving, growing and changing with new demands from attendees. How do you, as the planner, decide in which direction to go? How do you determine what is an absolute need versus a want? What will attract more attendees? What will deter them from attending? And, most importantly, how will all of this fit into your budget?
Here are just a handful of features that attendees are seeking from a meeting:
1. Location, Location, Location: According to research by the Experience Institute, 71 percent of attendees consider location as a determining factor with regard to whether or not they will attend a conference. Out of that percentage, 20 to 30 percent say that it is THE deciding factor.
2. Event Safety and Security: This should be at the top of everyone’s concerns when looking at a destination or venue. Attendees want to know that you have taken into consideration how safe the location is, factor in the time of year for potential natural disasters, consider impending events, rallies or other functions that could impact their livelihood, and that you are on top of it even after the contracts are signed and registration is open. Communication is key for attendees.
3. Control: Attendees now want more control over the agenda according to Social Tables. They want additional options with regard to how they will spend their time - 96 percent believe events should be more personalized with opportunities to suit everyone.
4. Wellness Influences: Stress and work/life balance have become more prevalent than ever. Attendees want healthy options for food as the number of vegetarians and vegans continue to grow daily. They also are looking for mindfulness techniques and yoga offerings. This thinking goes well beyond whether the host venue has a well-equipped gym or not.
5. Sustainability: Beyond recycle bins and reusing the towels in their sleeping rooms, attendees are looking for a holistic approach to reducing the event’s overall carbon footprint. This includes food waste, asking attendees to bring their own reusable cups (or offering them to attendees as “swag”), and eliminating printed paper.
6. Event Technology: Who doesn’t have a smartphone these days? With attendees asking for less printed paper, they are expecting the opportunity to have an all-encompassing event app. The options are endless to fit what attendees are looking for and to fit the event budget, as well. Of course, when offering an app to attendees, Wi-Fi will need to be included at the meeting site at no additional cost to them.
Gone are the days of the basic RFP that focused on meeting space and sleeping room rates. As the need to know attendees intensifies significantly with each event, the need to customize the RFP to meet their requirements grows along with it. Keeping up with what attendees want and need from an event in order to succeed in their profession should be first and foremost on the mind of the planner while an event is still in its “concept” stage.
Fernley & Fernley, Inc., leaders in association management and meeting planning since 1886, and dedicated to providing quality and effective services nationwide for their clients