If you want to make your mark in the conference industry, it’s essential you design meetings that wow your guests and streamline their experience. Gone are the days when you could simply put on a good buffet and set up a stage with a fancy PowerPoint.
Attendees now expect unique meeting locations, cutting-edge technology and creative activities that inspire. Millennials thrive on experience and they’re willing to go the extra mile to attend an event that’s memorable.
To stand out from the crowd, you need to deliver innovative meeting formats that engage your guests from start to finish. We’ve put together some key tools and ideas to take your meetings from ordinary to extraordinary.
Meeting Planning Tools
Image from poll-everywhere.com
Mobile Meeting Apps
With their ability to significantly increase audience engagement, mobile meeting apps such as Pathable and EventMobi are highly effective tools. Planners can create a bespoke app for their meeting or event which is designed to engage attendees throughout the entire customer journey.
You can use these mobile meeting apps for:
Live polling – ask attendees questions to improve their experience.
Networking – guests can get to know each other before the meeting.
Matchmaking - pairing attendees with like-minded individuals.
Gamification – delegates can participate in challenges and point scoring games.
Augmented reality – interactive experiences such as “turn-by-turn” venue directions.
Custom “thank you” pages with content tailored according to guest feedback.
Whet people’s appetites by showcasing glimpses of the unique aspects of your event. Show guests what culinary delights they can expect or how creatively designed your breakout sessions are – get them excited about attending the meeting.
Another great function of these apps is that you can tailor the content to the user. Make your guests feel special by showing them content just for them from the moment they register.
Meeting and event-specific chatbot systems such as Scienso’s Concierge EventBot are now all the rage. You can instantly answer your guest’s questions in a two-way SMS based dialogue box. Not only does this make your guests feel valued, it allows you to make changes and streamline your events as you go.
Discovering what your audience wants ahead of the meeting can save you time and money. Dealing with issues and requests as they arise can prevent post-event headaches and dis-gruntled delegates.
Corbin Ball, renowned planning and event technology speaker, recommends that meeting planners also consider:
Audience polling and social Q&A apps such as conferences.io, pollevery-where.com and slido.com. These useful tools aid engagement by enabling the agen-da topics to flex according to guests’ preferences.
Screen sharing technologies like Glisser.com. The audience can view slides and polls without these having to be relayed on the main screen.
Wearable beacon technologies such as Loopd.com. The Loopd smart “Badge” records a custom event journey for every attendee, including logging people’s contact details and the sessions they’ve attended.
Throwable Mics like Catchmic are designed for audience participation and are great for getting people involved in a debate.
Image courtesy of Play with a purpose.
Innovative Meeting Formats That Wow
Exceed your guests’ expectations with an innovative meeting format that tops any other event they’ve ever been to.
Go Beyond TED Talks
World-class conversations, music, heightened interactivity, culinary experiences, scintillating talks and outstanding performances are a few examples of what attendees might come to expect in meetings of the future.
Bibi Rydbacken, Marketing Director at Svenska Möten suggests taking note of Electrograph’s “Lost Lectures” as a great example of innovation in practice. She says, “Presentations of the future are not PowerPoint. They are works of art.”
What’s on the menu?
The quality of the food and beverages on offer is increasingly under the spotlight and its presentation is often carefully considered.
Planners are going to great lengths to unveil unique and inventive dining concepts, whilst ensuring that all guests’ special dietary needs are catered for.
Here are some inventive ideas from Convene:
Bring the back of house to the “front of house”
Have chefs conjure up a feast in front of guests either during lunchtime or as a novel way to close the day. Food can be plated or self-serve, but either way, it's sure to be a talking point. Ensure food is imaginative think locally sourced and inspired dishes created using healthy and brain-boosting ingredients.
Unexpected food pairings are very on-trend right now. Think tacos and Japanese sake. Cake and whiskey. Ice cream and olive oil. Chocolate and quack beer. Chicken marsala with pinot noir. These unusual couplings push people outside of their comfort zones without making them too uncomfortable.
Shake the seating up
Don’t just stop at the food – why not try a similar approach for networking? For internal meetings, think oldest and newest employees sitting together or marketing and finance cozying up. For external events, try segmenting people by demographics or interests.
Have the environment on the agenda
With the devastating effects of climate change increasingly dominating the headlines, planners and venues are increasingly considering the wider environmental implications of their events.
Svenska Moten’s Bibi Rydbacken finds that planners are increasingly choosing venues that can demonstrate their commitment to sustainability – even ecolodges, located deep in forests.
“Discussing the company's environmental strategy around an open fire stirs creativity much more so than by sitting in an air-conditioned room, looking at PowerPoint presentations.”
Interactive Meeting Activities
Engaging your guests through interactive activities is a must. Being stuck in a conference room all day can stifle creativity so shake things up with a fun activity.
Here’s a few interactive meeting activities to consider:
Dare to be different
Denmark’s beachside Marienlyst Standhotel offers many innovative team building activities designed to help guests “see a new side of each other.” Popular activities include clay pigeon shooting, alfresco cooking sessions and visits to Kronborg Castle, a World Heritage Site. Daring underwater hunting is even on offer.
Image courtesy of Marienlyst Standhotel
Fishbowls (via a facilitator) prompt effective and focused conversation amongst a large number of attendees. Usually, 5 or 6 people sit in the inside of a circle and converse (aka the fish). The other delegates (50 max) watch the fishbowl and can join the conversation if the session is “open.” If it’s “closed,” they mustn't interrupt.
Seated auditorium-style with a semi-circle, the presenters can hear and see the audience clearly, and vice-versa. It's comfortable and intimate enough to help maximise audience engagement.
“The 'fireside chat' allows for the presenter and panellists to really interact with the audience." - Convene, The Meetings Expert.
The health benefits associated with fresh air and an outdoor lifestyle are plentiful. Denmark’s Marienlyst Standhotel uses their unique seafront location to maximum effect. Moderators offer “walk and talks” on the beach and guests can quite literally “throw their stress into the sea” during relaxed stone throwing competitions.
Image courtesy of Marienlyst Standhotel
“Engagement and fun are extremely powerful tools – when done with purpose. Planners must design with purpose to help achieve the meeting’s objectives. ALL guests like to play! Just in different styles. Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries a little bit.” - Sharon Fisher CEO of Play with a Purpose.
Make your next meeting memorable by raising the bar even higher this year.
Want to learn how to deliver an innovative meeting format?
Join us at Americas Connect 2019 – The event that’s changing the face of the conference industry.