June 9, 2011 by Jeff Hurt
“That was the best organized event I’ve ever attended. I’m registering now for next year because it was so well planned and orderly. Their logistic planning is impressive.”
Have you ever heard a conference attendee say that?
Of course not!
How many of your attendees register every year just because your logistics are well planned and managed? Or your food and beverage is tasty? Or the chairs were arranged nicely?
We hear from loyal repeat attendees if the meeting had good content. Or the experience was unique. Or if others were able to connect with likeminded individuals.
We also hear from loyal attendees if the content suffered and the experience was lacking. And we hear if the registration process was unorganized. Or there were not enough chairs. Or the food was bad.
So which is more important to the meeting planning process? The structure of the meeting or the content?
It’s the chicken and egg theory. Or is it?
• of great significance or having relevant and crucial value
• likely to have a profound effect on success, survival or well-being
• having high rank or status
So how significant and crucial is the content and attendee experience to your event? How likely is the content to have a profound effect on the success, survival or continued existence of your event?
Sure the logistics are important. You couldn’t have an event without them.
Yet, I’ve attended events that had stellar content and poor logistics. The content eclipsed the poor organization and I’d return in a heartbeat.
So if content is so critical, why don’t we spend more time discussing it during the planning process?
Often I hear, “Is the glass half full or half empty?” Usually someone is trying to identify my view on the world as an optimist or a pessimist.
Do you ever hear someone say, “Well, I don’t care what’s in the glass. I only care about the glass.”
Is the container important? Yes! But not nearly as important as what we put in the glass.
Sure, without the glass you couldn’t hold any liquids. But with only a glass, you lack substance.
So why do meeting professionals only focus on the container, the scaffolding, the logistics of their event? Why don’t they focus on the substance of their event?
Why do people attend your events?
Is it for the organized logistics? The food and beverage? The smooth onsite registration process? The way the chairs are arranged?
Of course not.
The top three reasons people attend conferences are:
2. Education (and receive the most current information)
3. To do business
If those are the three reasons why people attend events, shouldn’t we focus more on creating the experience and the content for that event?
Here are three types of events you can plan.
1. An event with well organized logistics and poor content … is a fail.
2. An event with poorly organized logistics and great content … is usually successful.
3. An event that’s well organized and has great content … is a grand slam out of the park home run.
Which event do you want? What will it take to get you focused on planning the experience and the content in addition to the logistics?
It’s time to stop focusing on the glass and start focusing on the substance!
Which is more important to you and why? Why do you think conference and event organizers focus so much on the logistics and not the substance?
Filed Under: Event Planning
Couldn’t agree more. To take what you are saying a step further, I ask the question why? If we go on the assumption that content over logistics wins every time, then why is that in reality logistics is where most planners spend their time? Is it in their sweet spot of knowledge? Perhaps. Or maybe it is a much bigger issue. Just maybe it is an industry-wide problem in which we put people resources into neat little boxes – planners plan (logistics) and educators educate (content). If this be the case, then let’s at least understand the critical importance of educators and utilize their services in harmony with the valuable services planners provide. Can’t have one without the other – not anymore.
I totally agree with you that’s it’s an industry-wide problem with labels. I am so frustrated with our industry organizations that have education in their mission statement and strategic plans but then put more dollars into marketing, losgistics and other resources. It’s also a sad thing that rarely do these industry associations put professional educators in positions of leadership within their staff. They promote the logistics people over the content. What a sad commentary!
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