Tahira Endean of Cantrav Services overheard two people on a plane who were discussing the same event. It was the kind of talk that follows many meetings. But it would have been so different if the meeting had actually achieved its goals. She shares her experience here.
We recognize people attend conferences for two main reasons. Call it what you like – knowledge and relationships; learning and networking; sharing information and meeting others with a similar interest (work or life).
Meeting professionals and their committees spend lots of time on choosing the destination, developing a program, marketing, managing sponsor relationships, possibly working with a trade show component, sorting all the logistics from transportation to food, signage to audio visual, decor and entertainment, and ensuring the host / board expectations are met.
What remains the missed element? The guest experience.
I remain optimistic that the industry will continue to shift, as we understand more about how people like to engage, that they attend meetings for face-to-face time, that there are many ways to deliver knowledge and have participants feeling richer for the experience.
We have just spent three days on a site inspection nailing down the details of a meeting where it is critical to the client that people leave with that feeling, and that we take advantage of the location, and that time for talking is part of the experience. Leaving this destination, and on my first shorter leg of my flights home, I found myself seated between two gentlemen that had just attended the same meeting. Here follows a sampling of what was shared of their experience.
What they said: “Dinner last night was really good. Did you even want any breakfast today?”
My first thought: Yep, if we stuff them at the gala they will remember that!
What they said: “There were some very thought provoking presentations. I don’t know what I learned, but I do have some things to think about.”
What I heard: The presenters talked AT their audiences and did not give time for discussion or assimilation.
(said) “I know, and it was so busy running between places I never had time to really think about it, but I know there will some things I want to take back to my team.”
(I thought) They wanted to make sure the program was really full of good things so it was easier to market / had so much to fit in we had to cut into the break time
(said) “You know it is too bad we didn’t have more time to talk at the conference, this was really interesting. Even though you were sitting across the table from me at dinner last night, it was too far for a discussion.
(thought) Yes, we did it again, closed with a gala dinner where you can talk to exactly the two people beside you!
Posted with the permission of Tahira Endean. To read the rest of this article, please click http://tahiralovesevents.blogspot.com/2012/05/conference-misses-mark-again.html
(Photo by scragz)