As meeting planners we are afforded the opportunity to attend conferences both as planners that handle the conference logistics, and as attendees. I have had the good fortune to work with our client’s attendees, exhibitors and sponsors. This has allowed me to gain a better perspective of what they are seeking to achieve at a conference. One thing they all have in common is that they want great networking opportunities to build on their business. Whether they are an attendee, an exhibitor or a sponsor, they have a common goal of making new connections and building on existing relationships to help propel their business interests forward. I often attend events myself that are touted as “Networking Events”, not always the case. I just attended an event this week for business matchmaking and there was absolutely no opportunity to network with other attendees, other than to be present at your scheduled meetings. This is a huge lost opportunity. YIKES!
There are so many goals and so little time to accomplish everything you want at your annual conference. You have two to three days to squeeze everything in. You have General Sessions, Plenaries, Work Shops and Break-outs. You have sponsors and exhibitors that are looking to you to help them market their product or service. You have a responsibility to your attendees as well. So how do you make sure that all of these folks get a bang for their buck? How do you make sure that you ultimately have a well received conference that will result in successful events for years to come?