The Then and Now of Conferencing

“I sit back in my plastic chair, and sigh.  This is going to be a long day, and I can just feel the paperwork piling up as yet another head-honcho steps up to rattle off about the sales figures, and how we need to keep them on the rise.

While I appreciate the free lunch and the little box of chocolates I received, I would rather have received a bonus cheque, and that I be left to get my work done.

I may sound like an ungrateful employee, but to sit through hours and hours of speeches, followed by uncomfortable lunches, and worrying over work that I need to complete tomorrow … well … take a breath … no thanks!”

Is this how you want your employees to be talking about your next conference? How can you spruce up a company event? It is meant to be all about the employees, right?  To thank them, and to ensure they are happy?  Well, then why aren’t they happy after one of these shindigs?

There is a world of wonder that awaits companies when it comes to staff conferences. You can add something quite special and have your gathering be geared around being fun, memorable and beneficial.

Let us take a little journey over the last 10 years, as taken from a recent article published by Eventbrite, an online ticketing company in the UK.

Tech Savvy

From excel spreadsheets and back and forthing of emails, to management applications that just work more efficiently, tech has just taken over, in a good way.  When it comes to the social media side, there are many avenues that have changed over the past 10 years.  Think about Facebook campaigns, event invitations, SEO plans, Pay Per Click, and analytics, that tell you exactly where you need to target; the scope of getting your message out there couldn’t be easier.

“EnOv8 uses online RSVP systems and ticketing portals to reduce the paperwork that comes with event registrations and makes it easier to convert readers into ticket holders” said Nicole Rollings, Managing Director of EnOv8.

The Crazy of Creativity

The sky is really the limit here.  Think about what party or event, nowadays, happens without a theme being used somehow?  Themes needn’t just be a fun, light-hearted approach, but themes can send a message too.

Think about an investment company with a theme around “Back to the Future”.  From the table settings to the team building (oh, yes, we are coming to that!), the aim could be to show the staff that they are all about looking to the future, and about drawing knowledge from the past.

Nicole added that “Themes can be expanded into a campaign that could include desk drops before the event, activations at the conference and a momento after the event to keep the message alive. This kind of campaign gets employees excited about the event before it happens, keeps them engaged for the duration of the event, and ensures you have a great return on investment if the thinking can be kept alive in the workplace after the event has taken place.”

Customised Solutions

Nicole believes that “Events are about much more than checklists and schedules. To be a successful event, everyone on the planning committee and organisation team needs to be aware of the business challenges and the event objectives.

The reason for the gathering of the teams together for an event is usually to communicate something important and/or to address challenges in the business.

Working with every client’s specific business objectives and moulding this into an experience that is unique and original, is a work of art, and takes a creative approach, with a business focus. Events that have this at the core of their concept and roll out will be successful.”

People Power

What many companies forget is that their staff are the foundation of the business.  They need to be the focal point behind the conference.  Sure, there is a message to be communicated, but at the end of the day, making the event memorable and rewarding is what will stand the test of time, and stay forever in their memories.

Engaging with the staff on a level that is both comfortable and beneficial is the key. Team building games.  Fun future-thinking tasks.  And, creating an atmosphere of “we are thankful for you” is what the conference should be all about.

Innovation

No boring, cold plastic chairs for us.  No more tasteless meals that make you wish you had bought that Big Mac on the way over.  There is no need to break the bank either when it comes to innovative ways of making your company event a raving success.

Lets bring out the fun and games.  Interactions with Martha from Finance will never be the same again.  Chats with Nerdy Nigel in the coffee room will remind you of that silly sports day when he actually beat you.  Monday morning’s early meeting may just turn into a basket hoop shooting competition.  Who knows.

But, one thing I do know is, that happy and engaged staff equal happy and engaged customers.  You don’t need to worry whether they will get the underlying message of your conference.  They will get the message.  They will also appreciate the effort you have put in in order to get the message across.

Leave 2007 behind. Bring on 2017 and all its exciting innovativeness.