You know these clichés:
Variety is the spice of life
You only have one chance to make a great first impression
They are clichés for a reason – at one time they were a shortcut to express a general truism. Although they still ring true, they typically lose their effectiveness because of overuse.
That said, the idea that everyone wants to give their attendees something to talk about during and after an event, and to heighten their anticipation for the next event, remains true. The right buzz can strengthen your brand, bolster loyalty, transform your company’s culture, and boost your future attendance. You don’t have to blow the lid off your event attendees’ expectations, but, as they say, every little bit helps.
Consider these ten ideas for making your corporate meeting or conference stand out from a sea of bland, workshop style meetings.
Brand, brand, brand. Logos aren’t just for t-shirts. Include your company logo on all electronic media and print materials, on tables and other furniture, registration booths, digital signage, kiosks, even projection screen backdrops. Some items can be direct print, others could be electronically projected or created with specialty lighting. You could even arrange the furniture in your meeting room or lounge in the shape of your logo.
Think outside the box. A unique environment or facility can shake up your event, and exotic locales aren’t just for incentive meetings any more. Imagine holding a corporate meeting seaside in Hawaii, or at a mountain resort in the winter with snow capped peaks all around. Or what about an unusual place like an airplane hanger, industrial warehouse, sports venue, private villa, or high-rise rooftop?
Pump up the décor. Think beyond traditional venue tables and chairs. Use comfortable couches and cushion chairs arranged into small clusters, instead, with end tables for smart devices and drinks. Add toss pillows with printed branding or in your company’s colors for a finishing touch. Your attendees will know immediately that this meeting is going to be different.
Light it up. Company colored lighting transforms a lackluster meeting room into an atmospheric lounge area for breaks and post event networking. Centerpieces lit by candle (artificial or real) or by overhead pin-spot lights add elegance to a dinner function. If you have an elaborate stage with scenic elements, dim the house lighting to create a theater-like atmosphere with all eyes focused front and center.
Charge (it)! Recharging kiosks and lounge areas sporting end tables with built-in charging ports add electricity; literally. Caveat - be sure you have enough so your guests won’t have to wait too long.
Project it. Display stimulating information during breaks and track/break-out changes. Place several large video monitors in the hallways or foyers to show your company’s social media feeds such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram, or a live leaderboard for your event gamification tournament, and include a stock market ticker feed across the bottom.
That’s a good sign. Digital signs placed throughout the venue are great for displaying agendas, directions, event changes or the latest news. For a captivating touch, reserve an area on each display for something relevant and interesting. A live web feed from an area attraction like a zoo or aquarium, especially if it’s also an off-site activity option, is a good example
#Selfies, please. Hiring celebrity impersonators to mingle with your guests during registration, breaks and networking events entertains and energizes attendees. Include a digital photo booth to create memorabilia and boost social media activity. Their interactions provide good conversation material, a plus for new attendees, and using hashtags will boost your social media presence.
Spice up your breaks. Anyone can order coffee, tea and water service. Don’t be like everyone. Think multiple beverage kiosks - an espresso bar, Cuban coffee, chai tea and juice smoothies - along with snack stations offering pastries, hot pretzels and gourmet popcorn. Appropriate background music adds a nice touch, too. Just be prepared to corral the attendees when the break is over.
Rethink food. In addition to the interesting break items mentioned above, offer a specialty or unusual lunch, dinner or cocktail party. It could be culturally themed, locally sourced, or a fine dining experience. Consider lobster rolls if your event is in New England, deep dish pizzas in Chicago, or authentic Mexican food in Phoenix. You could have the chef give a cooking demo or offer live culinary tips. There are many new and innovative ways to incorporate extraordinary food experiences. And investigating local options is a good way to honor the location of your event and make positive impressions.
You know what they say, actions speak louder than words. Why not include some of these ideas in your next event and break the clichés.