Designing an event is not easy– there are lots of tangible and intangible elements that need to fall into place for it to be successful and meaningful. And in the age of experience, it’s important to do it right.
Here are the top 4 foundations that make or break your educational event:
1 – Choose a Venue That Rocks
Your event starts here. Getting it right is important because the chosen venue will influence the perception of your brand, the organization, and the type of businesses and people you want to attract. Hotels and conference centers might be the safest choice. However, there are tons of venues like outdoor spaces and historical buildings, to name a few, that could be far more interesting than the usual conference venue.
Kultuurikatel, formerly a power plant, is an incredible event venue in Tallinn, Estonia, where we’ve designed a couple of food experiences for conferences. Also, the Brody Studios are a great alternative venue, which recently hosted the Terroir Talk, a wine and food forum for hospitality, in Budapest.
Whatever your choice, consider a couple of things:
- Does the venue have a contracted caterer?
- How much freedom do you have to intervene in the space?
Having this information in advance will help you make better decisions later on.
2 – For the Love of Food & Drinks
Have you ever been to an event at which you were served food that’s complicated to eat (hello, spaghetti!) without making a mess on your white shirt while juggling a glass of sparkling wine and having a conversation with a new prospect? Or where you’ve walked to the buffet to find the usual flavorless sandwiches and toasts? Yup? I thought so.
The average catering companies serve flavorless and unhealthy food, rich in sugar, but with zero nutrients. As a result, people are easily high on sugar and quickly low on energy. Instead, opt for fresh, delicious, healthy, local and seasonal food and drinks whenever possible. We love to work with like-minded food businesses that care as we do about bringing the best products to the table.
If the chosen venue has in-house catering included in a package (see section 1), collaborate to co-design the menu. If you have the freedom to choose, go for the caterer that suits the style and the purpose of your event. And why not consider how every meal could offer the opportunity to engage the participants in games or activities? (After all, we’re living in the experience economy).
I can’t stress enough that food is not only a chance to fuel up but a great opportunity for people to mingle with fellow participants. It sets the mood for the whole event.
3 – Master the Atmospheric Art
Recall the last conference you’ve been to: How did you feel as you walked in? And throughout the day? Could you describe your experience as cozy and energizing, or unfriendly?
Designing the atmosphere of an event is a complex task. However, it should be on the top list of priorities. Design the event with the journey of the participant in mind. If you put yourself again in the shoes of a participant, their experience starts before walking in on the first day, when browsing through your conference website for information or seeking advice from people who joined in the previous years.
When designing the vibe for your conference, map both the physical and digital spaces the participants will use when they interact with your service.
A useful method is to compare your event to a fiction story. Usually, in fiction, there’s a hero who faces some adventures and challenges. Most likely, their journey looks like the graph below, with peaks and lows. You should aim for a nice flow with repetitive and higher “wows.”
As their journey includes both tangible and intangible elements, it’s your job to influence and design them with a purpose in mind.
4 – Invest in People
Last but not least, there is the “human” aspect of your event: the people that will help you make the conference a reality. (And you could never thank them enough for their effort!)
When assessing your HR, ask yourself these questions:
- Is my staff identifiable by the audience? If not, how could they stand out?
- Have I hired enough people? Do they have enough experience or do they need support?
- Do they know what is expected of them? Are they aware of the atmosphere I want to create?
Train your team and staff of volunteers thoroughly about your event, so that they can make independent decisions anytime. Remember that your people are the best brand ambassadors, and with their enthusiasm or lack of it, they will either break or make the event. I see that more and more events take wisdom from the hospitality sector. So, why not create a “concierge” role and let your staff help your guests throughout the conference?
Live events are the best way to connect with your audience, build communities, and share your message. Make sure you do it in the best possible way.
Also published on Medium.
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At WE Factory, we are experts in crafting immersive and sensory experiences that bring change, and we love to support ideas and organizations that make people flourish. If you need help on your next event, take a look at our Conference Services. Alternatively, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.