Meetings Today: Are you incorporating more, or fewer, activities into your agenda? If so, what types of activities are being added or cut?
Angie Silberhorn: We’re incorporating more interactive activities into existing event elements, such as facilitated discussions and interactive F&B elements in networking breaks. -- Angie Silberhorn, CMP, Conference Director, Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC), Oak Brook, Ill.
Illene Page: No change. -- Ilene Page, Global Meeting & Event Planner, Front Page Events, Palo Alto, Calif.
Stacy Wald: More activities. We have added a daily spouse breakfast with a speaker and a CSR program. -- Stacy Wald, CMP, Director of Meeting Events, Data Trace Management Services, Towson, Md.
Gary Schirmacher: We are trying to find more ways to connect people with like personas to each other and use behavioral data to help improve the experience at an event for all attendees. Maritz People and Science along with the Maritz design Studio are finding ways to use behavioral research to drive positive change within events of all sizes. -- Gary Schirmacher, CMP, Senior Vice president, Industry Presence & Strategic Development, Experient, A Maritz Global events Company, Boulder, Colo.
Liz Whitney: We are incorporating more activities. We have added an evening networking event to all of the programs and often use icebreakers to get people engaged. We have added optional (extra fee required) dinners to some of the events as well as industry-related tours. These have been very well received and we will continue to expand on these. The education sessions include more opportunities for discussion by using round table format and interactive activities and problem solving. -- Liz Whitney, WLP, International Warehouse Logistics Association (IWLA), Des Plaines, Ill.
Wendy Sutowski: We are trying to create more-engaging agendas that bring more subject matter expertise to our attendees and involve them more. We are adding several CSR elements that do not cost our organization anything but allow our attendees to feel that they have done something of value or contributed to the betterment of a community. -- Wendy Sutowski, CMP, Director of Events, The American College, King of Prussia, Pa.
Gina E. Allega: This seems to be staying about the same. Our groups tend to keep the attendees busy every night with dinner and/or activities after the meetings. -- Gina E. Allega, CMP, Senior Program Manager, Meeting & Event Services North America, BCD Travel, Cleveland
Scott Shellman: We’ve seen a decrease in off-site activities (i.e., dine-arounds, off-site receptions, etc.) the past six months, and moving forward, as our clients are trying to trim transportation and site fees for off-site venues. They’re looking at providing a more robust menu on-site (if the venue has unique/outdoor on-site reception venues) and putting the money saved from site fees and transportation costs toward increased F&B spending. -- Scott Shellman, Principal, Framework Meetings and Destinations, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Geoffrey S. Duncan: Less; reduced travel budgets and attendees. For example to events we typically send seven or more employees to, we now send two and they report back and pass along training learned, for useful take-aways, etc., with the team after the fact with materials passed around. -- Geoffrey S. Duncan, Director of Sales & Marketing, Radius Display Products, Dallas
Jack Molisani: Both more and fewer activities. Our attendance has been growing on average 20 percent per year for the past eight years (with the exception of the 2016 election year, when attendance fell). When we passed 400 attendees it was harder for us to find reasonably priced accommodations for after-hour social events. Also, the sponsors who traditionally sponsored those events are exceeding their promotional budgets. So, instead of doing one big event somewhere we are doing multiple smaller events. And instead of the conference or sponsor paying the way, attendees pay their own way. (We still guarantee an F&B minimum, but it is easier to find flexible small venues that high-priced large ones.) Also, an attendee pointed out last year that many of our events are held in bars, which is not good for people in recovery. And events like karaoke nights are not always fun for introverts. In response, we make sure that one or more of the smaller events are held in venues that are not bars and have activities for non-extroverts (such as viewing art at the museum). -- Jack Molisani, Executive Director, The LavaCon Conference, Long Beach, Calif.
Carl Lambrecht: More technical seminars. -- Carl Lambrecht, General Manager, Laurel Industries, Highland Park, Ill.
Don Pietranczyk: More, more and more! -- Don Pietranczyk, Senior Manager, Experiences and Activations, New York City
Diana Bryant: We are adding a social event for first-time attendees for every conference. (Our conference planning committees are present at these as well, so newcomers can meet veterans to answer their questions.) We did this for our last few conferences of 2018 and it was highly successful. We are also setting aside time in our agenda to take people through our event app download if they haven’t already done it. The app has become an integral part of the event and we need as many attendees as possible using it. We haven’t cut any current activities. -- Diana Bryant, Director, Conferences & Meetings, TVPPA (Tennessee Valley Public Power Association), Chattanooga, Tenn.
Kay B. Clark: The same number of activities. Our meetings are business-oriented so we utilize our group dinners as a time for activities. We have games during cocktail hour as well as during the buffet and throughout the three-hour dinner event. We change them for each night. Our attendees are all men and they like competitive games like glow toss corn hole, laser skeet shoot, remote car racing and remote boats in pool. Basic and easy games that can be played quickly. -- Kay B. Clark, CMP, Director, Meetings & Events, Material Handling Industry, Charlotte, N.C.
Samantha Vogel: More! We are very into "festivalization" and try to create as many engagement activities as possible. We also look for ways to incorporate our vendors into our festivalization activities. Vendors find this type of attendee engagement more impactful than even their booth activity sometimes. This past year we created an arrival event in Indy that we called Groovin’ on Georgia. It was an outdoor street party with food trucks, DJs, and we had Xbox sponsor the event with lots of street games including giant jinga and branded cornhole. Attendees were able to win coins for winning the fun games and then redeem those coins in the Xbox vending machine to win amazing prizes like Xbox controller or even consoles! -- Samantha Vogel, CMP, Sr. Manager, Meetings & Travel, GameStop, Inc., Dallas
Tracy Orpin: We have cut and added so it is balanced; just changed a few things to keep it fresh. -- Tracy Orpin, CMP, IAAP, Kansas City, Mo.
Katie K Riggs: We are finally allowing more free time for attendees to organically connect and also explore the location. So far we have had great feedback on this! -- Katie K Riggs, CMP, CMM, CAE, HMCC, VP, Client & Conference Services, Raybourn Group Int., Indianapolis
KD O'Neal: Our clients are asking for more "down time," which is translating to less formal lecture/workshop style sessions and more conversation/peer-to-peer and problem solving. -- KD O'Neal, CMP MBA, Conference & Event Services Manager, University of Dallas, Irving, Texas
Jef Robinson: It depends upon the type and size of the event, but in general, we are looking to provide more attendee interaction (where applicable). -- Jef Robinson, Global Category Manager–Travel & Meetings, Anonymous, London
Leslie Zeck: We have stayed the same. All activities are optional for the delegates. -- Leslie Zeck, CMP, CMM, HMCC, Director of Meetings, International and American Associations for Dental Research, Alexandria, Va.
Megan Martin: Less. Being a government association we have to be sensitive to the amount of activities we offering during our meetings. -- Megan Martin, CMP, MPA, Senior Meeting Manager, National Conference of State Legislatures, Denver