Okay Conferences For Fun And Profit

Windows Phone 7 during Lunchtime Demo at TechDays Toronto 2010

If you’re the type of event planner always looking for the biggest, newest, most advanced and shiniest new product, service or brag-worthy information, you’re not going to last unless you’ve managed to tap into an unending revenue stream.

Most of us know exactly what kind of conference this kind of event planner would run: big, expensive TVs everywhere, lasers and mood lighting, high-priced entertainment and swag worthy of a Hollywood party. While none of these things are inherently bad, they usually exist to cover up a poor conference experience.

Here’s a secret: it’s okay to be mediocre. Okay, well, it’s not okay to be mediocre at everything, but it’s okay for your conference NOT to have the latest technology, NOT to have expensive lighting, and NOT to have last week’s American Idol winner at the after party.

What should NOT be mediocre is the conference experience. Like Jeff Hurt says, “It’s about your attendees’ experience with the content. With each other. With exhibitors and sponsors. With the conference host organization. With the venue. With the local city.”

By focusing on what attendees can and should expect from the time they’re giving you, event planners can put their resources into making a few often overlooked things a whole lot better.

Wireless connectivity isn’t just for nerds anymore. With so many smartphones and tethered data plans (corporate road warriors for that last one) available, some event planners may think WiFi doesn’t much matter. They are sorely wrong, as 3G connectivity has been poor in most big venues we’ve seen. Spend the extra money for greater bandwidth and better WiFi in your venue.

Electronic devices need power, and there never seems to be enough outlets. Thankfully, the power requirements for laptops, smartphones and tablets are low enough for outlet extenders or surge protectors. Buy a few and leave them on public tables, giving people a chance to talk and charge simultaneously.

Buy Better Food
Bagels, donuts and other starches are easy to buy and serve, but putting your attendees into a carb coma at 10am is likely not going to help the energy level. Coffee is great, but try fruit, oatmeal and other non-processed items.

Now we’re hungry. See you next time.