Plan a Gathering to Remember
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.
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.
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