Sometimes the very thing we need to pay attention to is right under our nose. We just can’t see it. Every conference planner works hard to secure the best venue, deliver the best program and provide amazing food. In dealing with these important elements, it is easy to overlook the smaller details in your event that contribute a lot to delegate experience. And delegate experience matters!
Make me feel special!
The one thing that every conference delegate wants – heck, we all want! – is to feel special. So, savvy conference planners must make choices for their event that they believe will make every delegate feel special.
Five Quick Easy Wins Many Conferences Miss
For this article we’ll focus on five quick and easy wins many conferences miss.
As they say, the devil is in the details. Big items, like venue, decor, food and entertainment are on most planners’ minds. Here are some easy wins that often get missed and make such a difference.
These simple touch points have the potential to make every delegate at your conference feel special at no additional expense to your conference.
1) Great Personal Interactions
There is no better way to show delegate experience matters than providing excellence in personal interactions with delegates. Every encounter with delegates should be professional, respectful, knowledgeable, helpful, friendly and it at all possible, fun.
This is not a tall order. It is basic table stakes if delegate experience matters to you. When conference staff provide great personal interactions with delegates, every interaction leaves your delegate feeling special.
Get the best staff
Thinking about your conference, there are three types of people your delegates will have contact with:
- Venue staff
- Service providers hired by your conference
- Your own conference staff
The first two om this list are hired by your conference. Since you don’t directly hire or manage the people working for the venue or suppliers, it is essential to verify that their staff meet your standards for delegate interactions. Thorough vetting is key when choosing venues and suppliers.
Once you have a short list, ask to observe their managers and staff at a different event which is similar to your conference. Observing venue and supplier staff in action provides an important opportunity for you to verify their people really deliver the way you need them to.
Ensure your own conference staff provide exceptional service
Merely good, doesn’t cut it. With your own staff and workers, take the time to educate and train them. Don’t take for granted that they know best practices for interacting with delegates.
Ensure every person on your conference team is a fabulous ambassador for your event and that every interaction leaves delegates feeling special. Do your staff know the names and faces of VIPs? Do they all learn how to greet these VIPs or how to direct them and give VIPs that extra level of support?
Once they know how to treat VIP’s, it’s easy to get your staff to treat every delegate as a VIP!
For most delegates, registration is the first contact with your conference.
In addition to processing delegate registration, your registration system is like a business card for your event. It conveys your brand, conference themes and values, and lets delegates know what they can expect from your event.
Your registration system is like a business card for your event.
Every delegate registers with your event, so it is very important that the registration experience is great.
The registration form should be easy to complete by the vast majority of your delegates. It should be well thought-out, taking no more of the delegates time than absolutely necessary. In other words, keep your registration forms as short as possible with a minimum of reading!
The controls and directions on the form should be clear and easy to follow. Review and test your forms before going live to eliminate all typos and any correct any parts that are not clear. Read more “3 Must-Do Tips For Creating A Great Registration Experience”
Lastly, delegates often have questions, despite your best efforts to create a great registration experience. Ensure there are two types of help available to them. The first is a way to ask questions about registration or your event. The second is technical support in the event they encounter technical difficulties with their registration.
Time invested tuning up your registration process will reflect well on your event and send a message that delegate experience matters.
This one is easy to overlook, but also an easy one to get right. Ask delegates and they’ll all have a bad check-in story to tell.
Don’t squander this opportunity!
Check-in is an easy win for every conference to make every delegate feel welcome and special. The first interaction at the event itself should be a great feel-good interaction. Responsibility for a great check-in experience falls squarely on the shoulders of the conference planner.
Making Check-in Great Again
So, in addition to the guidance from the first easy win in this this article, make sure your check-in staff:
- Know how to use your check-in system
- Are very knowledgeable about your conference
- Understand their primary role is to welcome your delegates!
Check-in staff should be patient, thoughtful and understanding in every interaction. Prepare your Check-in staff with the question “What will you do if something goes wrong, and what is the priority?”. They should know how to get problems fixed and throughout any unexpected issue, the delegate experience matters!
Take extra time ahead of your event to make sure that check-in leaves every delegate feeling special and every aspect of the check-in says delegate experience matters! To get check-in right, you need to do your homework and be prepared. Once check-in is live, it’s too late. Make sure your staff are competent knowledgeable and can handle typical questions and issues that occur during check-in.
Once Check-in is live, it’s too late!
This one is so simple it amazes me that conferences overlook it!
Delegates need to know where to go to get to the various parts of your conference. They’ll also want to know schedule and general event info.
Seems simple, yet I have seen examples of deserted conference reception areas with delegates looking for information unable to get the answers they need. With no one to answer their questions, there were also no signs or fliers with event information, no event app, and hotel staff could not answer questions about the conference.
The good news is this type of situation is very avoidable. Ensure information easily available to your delegates and let them know how to reach a member of your organizing team if they need to, but can’t find one.
A Conference App Helps
Conference planners serve their delegates well by making information available in more than one way to delegates. A conference app is an effective readily-available source of conference information and makes a great addition to every conference.
Effective Conference Signage
Conference signage is commonly supplied by conference organizers in addition to the signs installed and/or provided by the venue.
To be effective, conference signs need to be:
- Readable by delegates with vision challenges
- Have clear messaging
- Placed in locations where delegates will likely be looking for conference information.
Conference signs should be placed so they are visible even when the space is crowded. Before ordering your signs, check and double check that the messaging is clear and the copy is easy to read.
This one is so simple, it should never be a problem for any conference. Comfortable seats!
No conference planner deliberately chooses uncomfortable seats for their attendees. And yet, we’ve all been to conferences where the seats were uncomfortable!
We’ve all been to conferences where the seats were uncomfortable!
When scoping out your venue, take time to sit for a while in the proposed seating.
Your delegates will be sitting for hours at a time. Far better for you to reject uncomfortable seats in the planning stages! The venue may not even be aware that their seats are uncomfortable as none of their staff sit in them for hours at at time.
Give your guests comfortable, supportive seats so they can sit comfortably and enjoy the bigger things you have worked so hard to share with them at your conference.
There’s nothing like comfortable seating to let your attendees know delegate experience matters!
Let them know Delegate Experience Matters
Your delegates are the reason your conference exists. Let them know they are special, in every interaction. Every decision you make as a conference planner affects how your delegates feel before, during and after your conference.
Always look in the details for simple ways to make your delegates feel special, such as:
- Knowledgeable accessible hosts and staff. Make sure help is always close by.
- A professional, hassle-free registration process.
- A warm welcoming check-in.
- Easy to use, informative event app and signage that’s easy to read, clear and easy to find.
- Comfortable seats!
The five easy wins in this article are really just the start of what you can do. Each one directly impacts most if not all your delegates. You’re already working hard on the big aspects of your conference, don’t overlook the smaller things because they matter too!
Interested In Other Topics?
As a conference planner, knowledge is key. Let us know the topics you’d like to hear about to help increase your event planning success, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, Happy Planning!