Taking the Long Walk at Your Event – 5 Things That Matter to Attendees
A recent article in Associations Now magazine challenged meeting organizers to “Walk a Mile in Your Attendees’ Shoes.” Author Thomas Bohn, executive director of International Accounts Payable Professionals and International Accounts Receivable Professionals, offered tips from an exercise he tried with his staff.
“We actually walked the entire site ourselves, and as a result we added places to rest, more directional info, and more break stations. You may not be able to shrink the facility, but you can certainly improve the experience,” he wrote.
What an excellent suggestion.
I attend about 10 events a year, both live and online, and I see plenty people are doing right and lots of places to improve. I think when meeting organizers take a few minutes to put themselves into attendees’ shoes to see the meetings from their perspectives, the result is easier processes, more education and better learning outcomes.
Improving the Attendee Experience
Here are five areas where I can see the difference between organizers who think about attendees’ experiences and those who don’t:
- Education Assistance with Tangible Conference Handouts – As I’ve said before, events that drop all paper handouts in the interest of saving money or going green are not necessarily keeping attendees in mind. Again and again, we see that attendees want to be able to follow along on hard copy, take notes, and hold onto these references.
- Portable Note Taking with Conference Program Notebooks – A hot trend in live events is to turn a bulky proceedings book or conference binder into a portable, easy-to-carry Conference Program Notebook (or sometimes called a Conference Learning Journal), which usually contain a map, a schedule-at-a-glance, critical information plus blank pages for my notes. When I receive one of these at a conference, I know the organizers understand how tough it can be to drag large binders from session to session and through the exhibit hall.
- Enduring Education with Conference Recordings – I love events that offer recorded sessions as a part of my registration or even for purchase after the event. Often I hear great material, and though I try to take notes to share with my colleagues, I end up losing information or not keeping up with the session. When an event offers conference recordings, they are encouraging attendees to share and value their resources long after the event ends.
- Valuable Keepsakes with the Handouts on Flash Drives – Organizers who think about the attendee experience after the event will often put education meeting materials on a flash drive that I can keep and use all year.
- A Handy Shipping Area for Conference Materials – At the expo and book store, I sometimes purchase books, or pick up brochures, samples and more – and getting them home can be a pain. I love meetings that have an organized shipping center conveniently located near the bookstore so I can send my materials home without having to lug them in my already over packed bags.