Events provide critical revenue, brand, and educational opportunities for associations, professional societies, and the communities they create and empower. For your attendees, your conferences serve as an opportunity to expand knowledge and receive continuing education on a variety of topics, network with peers to build new connections and relationships, and stay up to date on the latest trends in an industry or profession. However, some events extend over a number of days, and you can prepare your attendees in advance to ensure they return to work following a positive experience with your organization, event, and brand. DeAnna Dyhr, a programming coordinator and project manager at Smithbucklin, shares her attendee tips for conferences based on her experience serving a variety of events for Smithbucklin clients.
Register early and pick up your badge in advance
As soon as conference registration opens online, DeAnna recommends that you encourage your attendees to take advantage of the opportunity to register and secure their spots. One of the many benefits to registering early is that your attendees will likely get the best pricing. Additionally, as there is limited space for seating at conferences and limited availability at hotels, early registration gives attendees more time to prepare and plan ahead. Once registered, tell your attendees to pick up their conference badges as soon as they become available, often one or two days before the official start of the event. This will help them avoid long lines on the first day of the event and will save them time so that they can attend more sessions.
Dress for comfort and style
As staff members, you know how much walking and standing is required at conferences. Therefore, it is important to have your attendees prioritize comfort when selecting their attire. Suggest that they avoid uncomfortable shoes and opt for a comfortable, reliable option. Remind them that, while some conferences may have a formal dress code, many are more laid back, allowing them to wear comfortable yet professional attire. Be sure to have your attendees review any conference guidelines prior to the event to ensure that they’re dressing appropriately for the occasion.
In DeAnna’s experience, conference centers are known to keep the air conditioning cranked high, which can leave you feeling dry and dehydrated. Advise your attendees to carry essentials, such as lip balm and hand lotion, to help combat the dryness. Additionally, staying hydrated is key to maintaining your energy at an event. Emphasize to attendees that they should carry a reusable water bottle and refill it regularly to ensure they remain hydrated and focused throughout the event.
Similar to staying hydrated, it is crucial to sustain yourself during a long conference, whether you are an organizer, presenter, or attendee. Urge your attendees to come prepared to the conference with snacks that are easy to transport but will also keep you full in between meals. Suggest that they opt for granola or protein bars, mini bags of popcorn, or nuts for an easy, on-the-go snack as they attend various sessions.
Embrace flexibility and utilize virtual resources
There are a great number of sessions and activities to choose to attend in a short period of time, which can make conferences feel overwhelming. Help your attendees understand that they won’t be able to attend everything, and that they should be open to the possibility of last-minute changes in their schedule. Additionally, with virtual platforms making a presence in many conferences post-pandemic, advise attendees to check their conference’s website to see what sessions or webinars are offered virtually. That way, if they can’t find time to attend the session in person, they will still have access to the valuable information after the conference.
Conferences are a fantastic opportunity for personal and professional growth. By following these tips, you can help your attendees to prepare effectively, stay comfortable, and make the most of their conference experience.
DeAnna Dyhr is in Event Services at Smithbucklin.
Gina Brennan is in Corporate Marketing at Smithbucklin.