As meeting planners, we have numerous responsibilities throughout the conference process, looking not only to meet but exceed the expectations of our delegates, it is important to consider three separate areas of development. Studies throughout the industry have looked at what drives meeting planners’ satisfaction at conferences. Discussed below are three common ways to break down the process and analyze the procedures and protocol for each stage.
Post-conference surveys of meeting planners have shown that up to 50% of a delegate’s satisfaction is in the pre-conference communication stage of the planning process. Your interaction in communicating with delegates throughout this period has the biggest effect on their outlook for the Conference. Emails, brochures, mailings, videos and conference updates all set the anticipation, excitement, tone and expectations of your potential delegates. Attracting the attention of your members and potential attendees is an important step in planning a successful experience. Keeping these individuals informed throughout the process of things like the conference schedule and travel arrangements — including transportation options to the destination, airport transfers and host hotel information— are important points that need to be delivered numerous times before the event.
Delegates arriving at the host city of the conference are looking to feel welcomed to their destination. Welcome areas at the airport and hotels staffed by a member of your team and the local convention and visitors bureau is a nice touch that will reduce the anxiety level for many attendees. Signage is another important area that can’t be overlooked and is important in proving a smooth transition when moving people at the event.
We strive to create an inviting atmosphere in all areas of the conference. Added touches (budget permitting) go a long way towards making the conference exhibit hall, breakout and meal function rooms, pre-function areas and ballrooms appealing to the delegates. The proper decorations and lighting are essential to the overall feel that is being conveyed and prompts positive thoughts, experiences and emotions.
Following up with the delegates after the conference is important. A survey scheduled to email automatically at the conclusion of the last event is a great way to do so. Emails, Save the Date information, social media posts and any conference videos are important reminders to your delegates of their conference experience. Attendees are moving on to their next task once they return back to the office and, without your diligent efforts, your event quickly becomes an afterthought at best.
Consistent and frequent communication with your stakeholders is the foundation of satisfied delegates at your meetings, conferences and conventions. Keep that in mind as you plan your next event.