Goodbye 2021, hello 2022! 2021 was full of virtual meetings, zoom calls and social distancing! What a different time to be a corporate meeting planner! There were no talks about menus and outings but rather internet connection and visual aid ideas. While we are not out of the woods, we are close and I for one cannot wait to plan some stellar in person meetings again!
Some of my favorite things about planning a multi-day meeting is aligning speakers that excite attendees, planning after meeting activities and wowing attendees with new tools to take back to their teams. But as I say about all events, the most important thing in planning any event is how the attendees felt while they were there. I have attended many trainings where they talk about how your senses play into memories. So many memories are created by what you smelt, touched, tasted, heard and saw! I mean think about it, some of my very best memories in life were Christmas time at my grandmother’s house. The way her tree always had the perfect amount of lights and matching colors. The way the Christmas music played softly throughout the house every day we were there and her front door rang of reindeer bells every time it opened. The way her perfume covered you when she opened the door to give you the biggest hug you have ever had. To this day anytime I smell Eternity for women, it takes me right back to Christmas Eve night and pulling up to Grandmama’s house!
Have you ever notice that a lot of hotels now have a custom created scent? They spend big money coming up with the perfect scent that speaks to their brand and the experience they want you to have. Every Westin has the same smell and that is on purpose. It is to trigger a memory, which will spark a want to have more of them. Brilliant, I think!
So how does that play into creating a great meeting for your attendees? Make it memorable! Be mindful of meals and making them different daily. By making them different, I don’t mean change up beef from chicken. I mean create a new experience everyday. An experience that offers a new view, a new taste, an engaging environment. A meeting doesn’t have to be stale sandwiches and chips for lunch and plated chicken dinner. It can be themed dinner stations from around the world and paninis and salad for lunch. Offer a coffee cart all day, not a coffee station! A coffee truck or fun cart! Cater in In and Out Burger one day! Or offer a food truck night! Create an experience that they leave thinking, that was a fun meeting!
That doesn’t mean it has to be all fun and no work! But create a comfortable space to learn in. Make the room cool but not cold. The idea of freezing our your attendees is in the past! I guarantee your attendees dread coming into the meeting room every morning when you do this. Set up a screen/tv on a patio or in the foyer. If your attendees need fresh air or to walk around they can still hear the conference. Let them interact with each other. I realize a lot of companies have a lot of information to get through, but if they don’t retain it, it wasn’t worth it! Make sure your guest speakers can create a feeling for you attendees. Have you ever heard the saying “we drank the Kool-Aid”? That is when you know they have been to a great meeting! In this day and age unfortunately we have to think outside the box. If you are going to invest in a meeting, make it memorable.
If you are a client that is looking to gain attendees, this blog is especially for you! If a company sends one attendee and they come back and can’t stop talking about all the amazing details from their meeting and all they have learned, they will send another associate and then another. But don’t get comfortable, think of new ideas every quarter or two. Stay on top of trends and remember meetings are an experience. The better the experience the better the outcome for you!