Plan a Gath­er­ing to Re­mem­ber

Premier Magazine (South AFrica) - - Contents - Text: Olive John­son Images © istockphoto.com, Fair­mont Zim­bali Re­sort

Con­fer­ences. Many may pic­ture a dull, old meet­ing room with bad light­ing, dated car­pets and drapes, not enough elec­tri­cal out­puts, in­stant cof­fee, bor­ing food, warped sound, and te­dious speak­ers. It is a mas­sive chal­lenge to man­age a large group of peo­ple for a num­ber of hours, or even days, whilst nav­i­gat­ing a jam-packed sched­ule and still al­low­ing for them to have a lit­tle (or a lot) of fun.

Due to the many fac­tors that can make a con­fer­ence go wrong, a lot of peo­ple steer away from spend­ing the money to at­tend, de­spite the count­less pos­i­tives that can be gained from them. Con­fer­ences can not only in­spire new ideas and ap­proaches, mak­ing one more ef­fec­tive and ef­fi­cient at work, they are also an ex­cel­lent way of build­ing new re­la­tion­ships and strength­en­ing old ones. Be­ing in a space with like-minded peo­ple who are will­ing to take time out to learn and en­gage, share ideas, and bet­ter them­selves can be ex­cit­ing and in­spir­ing. A well-run con­fer­ence in a well-con­sid­ered des­ti­na­tion can be your se­cret to en­sur­ing at­ten­dees take the most from the ex­pe­ri­ence. And, most im­por­tantly, keep com­ing back.

Lo­ca­tion, Lo­ca­tion, Lo­ca­tion

Choos­ing the right lo­ca­tion is key. While a re­mote des­ti­na­tion may seem ap­peal­ing to some, not ev­ery­one is go­ing to take the trou­ble of con­nect­ing flights or long travel time, es­pe­cially if they are al­ready tak­ing time out of the of­fice, or their week­end, to be there. A lo­ca­tion that is easy to ac­cess, but also has an el­e­ment of ex­trav­a­gance or ex­oti­cism, can en­hance the goals of your pro­gramme and the en­ergy of the group tremen­dously.

Fa­cil­i­ties

Once you have found a cou­ple of op­tions for the lo­ca­tion of your des­ti­na­tion con­fer­ence, it is im­per­a­tive that the fa­cil­i­ties are up to stan­dard. There is noth­ing worse than fid­dling with faulty In­ter­net con­nec­tions, bad wiring, in­audi­ble sound, and light­ing that makes del­e­gates brains hurt. Space is key, so en­sure there is lots of it. Any suc­cess­ful con­fer­ence spends the time and money en­sur­ing state-ofthe-art fa­cil­i­ties are avail­able and in good work­ing or­der. Think tem­per­a­ture con­trol, fast and re­li­able Wifi, high-qual­ity sound, SMART boards, and all the es­sen­tials to en­sure your del­e­gates can learn and share in a pro­fes­sional en­vi­ron­ment.

Food, Glo­ri­ous Food

These days, at­ten­dees have rather high ex­pec­ta­tions when it comes to what they eat. Ex­pand­ing di­etary re­quire­ments and in­cor­po­rat­ing farm-to-ta­ble, fresh food mean that con­fer­ence plan­ners need to put a lot of thought into what they are of­fer­ing. A des­ti­na­tion con­fer­ence gives you a great op­por­tu­nity to show­case the des­ti­na­tion’s cul­ture by of­fer­ing fresh, sea­sonal meals themed around the local cui­sine. Be­ing well-fed and hav­ing di­etary needs catered to in a well-con­sid­ered man­ner can add to a con­fer­ence’s suc­cess. En­sure plen­ti­ful, fresh wa­ter, fruit, and snacks are on hand at all times be­tween meals. And, of course, cof­fee. Plenty of it. And none of that in­stant stuff. Time to Un­wind

Con­fer­ences can be both ex­hil­a­rat­ing and ex­haust­ing, so find­ing time in be­tween a jam-packed sched­ule to un­wind and re­lax is an­other im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion. Plan­ners should be mind­ful of the des­ti­na­tion and find unique ac­tiv­i­ties to in­crease ca­ma­raderie amongst the at­ten­dees, as well as build in down­time for ex­er­cise and exploring. Com­fort­able rooms, an op­por­tu­nity to hit some balls on the golf course, a re­lax­ing spa, and be­ing in close prox­im­ity to other op­tions al­ways makes at­ten­dees happy. And fun – never for­get about the fun. A cock­tail party or two and per­haps even a team bar­beque to end the oc­ca­sion where del­e­gates can be merry and per­haps even have a dance can make all the dif­fer­ence in the world.

Plan Ahead

Or­gan­is­ing a con­fer­ence is a de­mand­ing and timely task, so when you add in a new and po­ten­tially far­away des­ti­na­tion, things can get more in­tri­cate. Due to the ad­di­tional as­so­ci­ated costs, ex­tra travel time, and higher ex­pec­ta­tions from your at­ten­dees, is it cru­cial to take the time to care­fully plan ahead in or­der to make your event suc­cess­ful. Con­sider hir­ing an ex­pert to as­sist you with your pro­gramme. And do not hes­i­tate to use in­dus­try part­ners as a ref­er­ence to find a venue that would be the best for you.

All things con­sid­ered, a des­ti­na­tion con­fer­ence can be a thing of beauty. It is an op­por­tu­nity to get out of the of­fice, do a lit­tle trav­el­ling, and have fun, all while gain­ing great in­sight and get­ting in­spired to be the best you can be.

Fair­mont Zim­bali Re­sort Con­fer­ence Cen­tre

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