6 ways to Enhance an Annual Conference
Planning annual conferences can get redundant very quickly, so it is essential every year to incorporate new experiences for your attendees. This year I coordinated my third National Sales Meeting for Maersk Line in Nashville, Tennessee and we did a few things differently that really impacted the entire event! Check out 6 things I did to switch it up this year.
1. DITCH THE TABLE CLOTHS
Get rid of the standard black table cloths and consider creating your own table top graphic. We teamed up with DTR Events to have them print a vinyl custom design for our conference tables and it turned out amazing! The best part was that you could actually draw on the graphic, so we encouraged participants to get creative. We also had other items on the table as well such as play-dough, pipe cleaners, and markers. Don't be afraid to give your participants stuff to doodle and play with! Studies show participants are more engaged when they have something in their hands.
2. MAKE THEM GET ACTIVE
We teamed up with SWEAT+SOUL Fitness to provide participants daily boot camp sessions to get them energized before the conference. The SWEAT+SOUL team also popped up during the conference to get everyone on their feet and moving while they were in general session, which was a different approach!
3. GET THEM OUT THE BUILDING
No matter how much you try, staying in the same venue for 3 days can get very redundant. This year we planned activities outside of the venue to get them to experience the city of Nashville. The first night we planned a party at The Wildhourse Saloon where we had line dancing and a live band. The second night we gave participants a gift card and let them go on their own to eat wherever they wanted!
4. SPICE UP THE BREAKS
Give the breaks a little flavor! We had a live band come and perform during lunch and the breaks and it was very well received. It was a real energy booster and kept the moral up throughout the day.
5. INTERACITVE LIVE PAINTING
In the beginning of the conference, we polled the audience on what kept them motivated at work. We then teamed up with GL Creations and used those words to create a mural that was painted during the conference. Participants got to watch their words come to life! Later we used the painting as the backdrop during the Awards Ceremony.
6. IN THE SAME ROOM? CHANGE THE AMBIANCE.
As great as your setup can be, after the second or third day it can loose its flare. Creating a different experience in the same room is not an easy task, but with a little lighting and decor it can be done! Check out how we switched up the room for the Awards Ceremony and Dinner.
7. Get Digital
Let's face it, in this day and age it is impossible to get your participants to put their phone down. Rather than fight it, embrace it! We worked with Maritz to create an event app to where we could house the agenda, activities, travel information, and much more. The best feature was the activity feed which participants could not wait to use! We also added a gamification aspect to where you could win points for doing things like positing in the activity feed and taking surveys. We later awarded the participants who scored the most points during the awards ceremony!
The best part about all of this is that I was able to accomplish all of these things while staying under my event budget. Hope this gives you a few new ideas! Check out more pictures from the event below!