Conferences and annual meetings can be fun, but also somewhat of an ordeal. Your members are excited to see one another and network with people outside your association and in other chapters, but little glitches can go from inconveniences to bad moods to big problems.
Here are some things to think about when planning your 2014 conferences and annual meetings!
Sure, your hotels probably have panty hose and razors for those last minute “forgot to pack” emergencies, but there are a lot more conveniences to consider. Pharmacies near by are always appreciated, as well as a few eateries just in case room service is outside the price range.
Location is key for a big meeting or conference. You need a space large enough for everyone that is accommodating, but still has spaces to go outside and get out of the air conditioning if necessary (conference halls are always cold for some reason) and possibly has something within walking distance. If attendees have to take cabs everywhere the whole time they’re attending, it could get costly and annoying.
If you use your AMS registration and payments should be easy, but don’t forget that you may have some on-site registration as well. Make it clear where they need to go both online and in person, and make the forms clear. Adding space for dietary restrictions and special accommodations could save you trouble in the future, as well, so keep that in mind when setting up your online registration. And don’t forget those confirmation E-mails! Send one with a list of succinct details: when badge pickup and check in is, which sessions they registered for, and when the big show actually starts.
4) Guides, maps, and info
Mobile apps are great and will save a lot of money in paper alone, but phones and tablets run out of juice pretty quickly at conferences. Having a map of the center and surrounding areas and a program with the learning sessions and schedules broken down goes a long way in making sure everyone is in the right place at the right time and happily learning and networking.
Finally, a trip away from home and the office, even while working, is still a trip away. Attendees may feel the impulse to socialize and enjoy themselves in a way they can’t necessarily do at home so polite, kind, and cheerful staff members and volunteers go a long way in making the experience a positive one! Especially because you know that there will be people lost and confused, running late for sessions!
Remember that even though it’s a lot of work and even though your members have high expectations, the event should be fun for everyone involved. Even you!