With most business meetings occurring over the phone and web, it can be refreshing to finally attend an in-person live group event or conference. It’s an opportunity to connect with like-minded people in person. Even with the great software that’s out today for online conferences, it’s important to keep people interested in attending live events. These events should be seen as worthwhile, so that people won’t be reluctant to show up. Once they leave the event, they should feel satisfied and have a lasting impression from the guest speakers. To prevent these invents from becoming stale, you have to keep the excitement, so that attendees will leave feeling great and will recommend the event to people they know, or come back to another one in the future. In order to make your events have a lasting impression, here are five tips.
1) Ensure Your Event is Easy to Get to
You don’t want your guests getting stuck in traffic or lost in route, so make sure that the location of your event is somewhere that is can be easily accessed from the guests’ hotels and/or airport. If you can’t avoid the event being in an area with heavy traffic, then consider pushing the event to a later time after the traffic has cleared, such as in the late morning or early afternoon. This will ensure that your guests can leave before rush hour hits as well. If the destination is tricky to find, make sure to email clear directions to everyone, so that they can find the location with no problem.
2) Hire Strong Guest Speakers
When people attend an event, they don’t want it to feel like a boring presentation, where they have to listen to someone read a PowerPoint presentation. The guest speakers that you book for your event should be well-known figures within your particular industry. These speakers should also be able to captivate your attendees and be excellent at what they do. They should engage the audience and make a memorable impact on them. The level of energy the speaker brings to the event should be high, while delivering relevant content that is educational to those in your audience. The topics presented should get folks talking.
3) Setup Your Event for Networking
Attending live group events can be a great opportunity to network with people in the same industry. You can harness the networking opportunities that will be at your event by setting up connection lounges, where people can have one-on-one sessions with subject matter experts and management teams. You can also use this time to take advantage of everyone being together in one place, where they can recognize the organization’s outstanding achievements, its members, as well as the different communities that it supports. When people leave your event, they should feel like they had a great chance to advance themselves and their careers, thanks to the networking capabilities that you provided.
4) Provide Convenience and Give the “Wow” Factor
Understanding that your guests’ time is valuable, you should make efforts to conserve it for them. One way you can do this is by allowing them to make reservations online and providing registration tables at the hotels where they’ll be staying. That type of convenience will make a great impression on attendees. To give the wow factor, you can hire live musicians to play at the event, such as a well-known band. You can also have a flash mob or other activity that can give your event positive energy and generate buzz.
5) Make Sure Event Has Delicious Food
This doesn’t seem like much, but having food and drinks that are excellent can make a difference for an event. Just as with any party, people will get hungry and will want to indulge in snacks and meals that are tasty. If your event requires people to travel to it, then make sure to include local specialties that they may want to try out. Events that have great food and drinks can keep people engaged and satisfied. Overestimate how much food you need, because it’s better to have more than rather than not enough. Even if you want to cut costs by reducing food and drinks, the outcome may not be worth it.
Keep in mind that although online meetings and conferences can be convenient and productive, there’s nothing like having a live event. Just make sure that you don’t hold a live group event just for the sake of holding one. Ensure that it is worth people’s time and money. When you have an event that is thoughtful and well-managed, the benefits will outweigh the costs in the long-term. What additional advice can you share with others looking to plan a business event of their own?
Originally published Feb 13, 2015, updated Aug 11, 2020