If you’re like most organizations, your conference is your biggest event of the year. So how can you make it REALLY stand out?

We’ve got 12 tips:

  • Have a welcome team – First impressions go a long way. Make sure you have a group of staff members/volunteers ready to greet attendees as they walk in the door.
  • Provide attendees with a map – Conference centers are often huge. Help your attendees out by providing them with a map of the area. (Note: You may want to provide them with two maps – one of the conference center and one of the city in which your conference is being held.)
  • Supply “swag bags” upon check-in – Who doesn’t love some good swag?! Consider giving out t-shirts, stickers, water bottles, etc. If you’re working with a low budget, this is where your vendors can really come into play. They might have some swag they’d like to contribute as part of a sponsorship opportunity.
  • Acknowledge first-timers – You want your first-timers to turn into second-timers, third-timers, fourth-timers, and so on, so it’s important that you give them a warm welcome. Consider giving your first-time attendees a sticker or badge that identifies them as such. That way, not only will you be able to recognize them, but they’ll be able to recognize each other.
  • Utilize directional signs – Like we said, conference centers are huge. In addition to the maps you give out, make sure you have directional signs placed throughout the venue to guide people along.
  • Make the WiFi seamless – Conferences are all about connecting, and WiFi is a critical component of that. To make logging in a breeze, make sure your WiFi credentials are clearly stated – on pamphlets in your swag bags, on PowerPoint presentations, etc.
  • Determine an official hashtag – Speaking of WiFi and connections, you’ll want to have a designated hashtag for people to use during your conference. This just makes engagement easier. And like your WiFi credentials, you’ll want to have your hashtag clearly stated as well – on pamphlets, on PowerPoints, etc.
  • Offer charging stations – People will be using all sorts of devices during your conference – phones, laptops, tablets, etc. That said, consider offering charging stations to give your attendees some “juice.” (Note: If you’re selling sponsorships at your event, charging stations make for GREAT advertising real estate.)
  • Have a “quiet space” – The concept of quiet space (or whitespace, as some people call it) is becoming more and more popular. It’s basically just a quiet space where attendees can relax and gather their thoughts. Conferences can be hectic, so if you want yours to be enjoyable, consider offering a little quiet space.
  • Make sure your staff members stand out – Even with maps and directional signs, people will still have questions. Make it easy for them to identify staff members/volunteers to approach. This may mean wearing the same color or having unique lanyards of some sort. Either way, just make sure your team is easily recognizable.
  • Organize a contest – Contests can be the cherry on top of a truly great event. They get people excited, and often, engaged. If you have vendors at your event, you may even want to incorporate them. For example, consider putting together a scavenger hunt involving your vendors’ booths. This is a quick and easy way to get your attendees and vendors talking.
  • Thank your attendees – Last but not least, ALWAYS thank your attendees. It’s a nice gesture, and one that shouldn’t go overlooked.

Want more tips for planning your next conference or event? Check out our free Event Planning Guide below!