Admittedly, I don’t pretend to have all the answers. However, as a veteran planner that has traveled the globe planning and managing corporate, association and incentive programs of all shapes and sizes, I’ve got a few of them. Answers, that is, along with ideas of what can really work within the given scope of your own meetings and events.
So here are a few of the smaller, more successful ideas I’ve stumbled upon that work. They really worked! And you know why? It’s because these ideas are frequently requested items from feedback questionnaires and/or they are from those daring to put out old-fashioned complaint boxes at their events. Yes, those do still exist, in fact, I’ve been involved with many meetings where attendees have even asked, “Where can I lodge a complaint or how can my request be heard?”
- Beverage breaks that last all day. This falls under the category of “give them what they want”, and I already know some of you are thinking “That’s too expensive for my budget.” But if you really, truly run the numbers of having at minimum one small coffee station out say from 10 AM — 3 PM, refreshed ONLY as needed (be specific with the hotel), you’ve covered the majority of the day and made a whole lotta people happy. Or consider a less costly offering of one gallon of iced tea, lemonade, or infused water but do have something. Attendees asked, you listened.
- Bring on the charging stations! I mean, aren’t you tired of people asking you where they are? This continues to be a constant challenge for attendees everywhere, so why fight it? If you can’t get a sponsor for one of those slick, fully labeled and marketed stations at least put a few hotel banquet tables in the back of the room and add some power drops to your AV order and see how quickly people line up to plug in. It’s a necessary addition that makes attendees appreciate that you thought of their basic needs.
- Provide a quiet room or some small area where people can go to chill a bit and recharge. We all need to step away at times and especially since some of your attendees are still coming out of their self-imposed, pandemic-induced confinement. It doesn’t need to be fancy, but comfortable seating, a table or two, water and hot tea, and silence should do the trick. Add a few charging stations and call it “The Re-charge Center.” Better yet if you can add some greens or florals but don’t use the “I’ve got no budget” excuse to not provide something.
- Schedule some downtown into your agenda. Pretty please? One of the biggest complaints we constantly hear with meetings is that attendees are asked to go from one session to the next with barely a bathroom break let alone time to answer a call or text message. We know you need to provide plenty of education, but people are more on edge these days and don’t function well when agendas are jam-packed.
- Skip a scheduled lunch OR provide a takeaway box lunch so people can get away from, um people. Refer to numbers three and four above for the need to allow space. Another option is to provide a voucher for a set amount that can be redeemed at multiple hotel outlets and that gets charged back to your master. This almost always works out to be less expensive than a planned lunch and gives people options. Just remember if you don’t offer anything you’ve also got to work with your hotel to make sure there are FB outlets open as options for people to get their own lunch.
- Bring in the puppies! You can’t deny the effect having a small “puppy den” or “kitten cuddle room” can have on just about the crankiest of attendees. And yes, this does take some pre-arranging with the local animal shelters (many do it for donations) as well as hotel approval, but gosh, this is effective. Especially later in the day when everyone gets wound up about something.
- Two words – Massage chairs. Even better if you can hire licensed pros to do mini chair massages at break times.
I encourage you to see what ideas you can add to the list when planning your events!