Nowadays, attendees are much harder to impress. They’ve seen it all, and to design a truly gratifying experience for them, you’ve got to be innovative. This might come as a hassle, especially when you have to juggle so many other planning and event marketing tasks.
To make things easier, forget about coming up with new interaction dynamics or knowledge session formats, and set aside any thoughts about eccentric catering. Not all attendees love to be surprised when it comes to food. You don’t even have to engage everyone through a serious game activity.
Things are much simpler than that. If you want to impress your attendees and give them a refreshing experience, think about setting up nontraditional meeting spaces. After all, the venue you choose may greatly influence how your guests feel and perform.
For example, as this study shows, the demand for nontraditional meeting facilities is expected to increase by 3.8% in 2018. People are bored of the old conventional event formats. Who wants to spend a few days in a row in stuffy, formal venue spaces?
Attendees seek to spend their time not only interacting and assimilating knowledge, but also enjoying meeting settings that are out of the norm. Considering this, here are a few ideas for nontraditional event spaces for your guests:
Tip 1. Take your attendees for a hike
We’re not kidding! Forget about the typical theatre or even fishbowl formats. During his speech at recent IBTM event held in Barcelona, Bo Krüger, a famous Danish meeting designer, highlighted that one of the event trends for 2018 is the 'walk and talk' meeting.
As Krüger indicated, a Stanford study showed that whenever people walk and talk, they think of 60% more ideas than they do just sitting at desks or tables in a meeting room.
So if you plan to run an information-rich event, why not separate your attendees into groups and plan knowledge sessions in nature? This type of dynamic will not only reinforce the exchange of ideas, but also strengthen the bonds between your attendees. Obviously, you don’t have to turn all of your event sessions into outdoor activities, but it could benefit your event if you plan one activity that also incorporates exercise and the great outdoors.
Tip 2. Plan a networking dynamic in the airport business lounge
It might sound a bit odd, but think about it for a minute. You don’t have to gather all of the attendees at the airport business lounge, as that would be impossible considering the flight schedule differences (especially if it’s an international event). However, you could gather the speakers or the industry influencers and plan a VIP networking dynamic just for them. If you manage to schedule the flights so that all the key guests would arrive near the airport at the same time, you could go for it and schedule, apart from a great welcome party, a first interaction activity.
Tip 3. Design outdoor coffee break sessions
Take your attendees out in the sun. Don’t make them stay inside while drinking their coffees and interacting with others. Plan all the coffee breaks outdoors (weather permitting, of course!). Moreover, spice up the dynamic with a series of coordinated networking exercises that would involve such techniques as storytelling or ice-breaking games. This change of environment will refresh your attendees and lift up their spirits, plus they’ll get a healthy dose of vitamin D.
Or what about a meeting around a campfire?
Tip 4. Run a relaxed conference in a vineyard
You don’t have to plan an event about wine to run one in a vineyard. You can easily hold a conference about any topic while allowing your attendees to enjoy the amazing views and unique vibe. By doing so, you’ll guarantee truly memorable experiences, not to mention an awesome wine-tasting session (it would just be downright cruel not to have that in the social program!).
Tip 5. Choose a nice rooftop for the cocktail dinner
Whether it’s a corporate event or a science conference, you can always add a breathtaking experience to any event. You could accommodate an urban rooftop for a thematic cocktail dinner for your attendees to enjoy. Imagine, apart from the open space and the amazing view, you could add attractive decorations, with wooden tables and bistro lights. Who wouldn’t be happy to interact and network in such an inspiring environment?
Nobody says that the old event formats don’t work. But people are seeking new experiences and are willing to exchange the standard venues for more enticing ones. The more creative you get, the greater your chances are to enchant and surprise your guests.
That’s why you shouldn’t limit yourself to just the ideas in this article. Do your research, assess your goals and your resources, and then choose a nontraditional meeting setting (or activity) and transform it into an exciting experience for your event attendees. Good luck!