The Six Essential Re’s Of Successful Conferences


Your conference is not as unique as you think it is!

Most of them are carbon-copy, cookie-cutter replicates of each other.

You may have dressed up your conference with some cosmetics to make it look different than others but it tastes, smells and feels all too familiar. It actually reminds people of a stale, untouched, dusty room where smokers used to live.

Most conferences start with a general session followed by breakouts followed by luncheon followed by the exhibit hall. It’s predictable, average and all too familiar. It’s stale.

Conferences need to retool, redefine, revitalize and rethink.

That only comes when we offer two additional Re’s: respect and relationships.

The Way We’ve Always Done It

Does your current schedule really benefit the conference participant? Or does it benefit you in the planning process because it’s easier to replicate year after year?

Do you really need as much space as you think you do? Or do you need that much space because we’ve always done it that way?

It’s time for conference organizers to start from scratch. It’s time to throw out last year’s schedule and do it differently. It’s time to step up to the plate and have the courage to take some risks.
Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time

It’s Time

It’s time to:

1. Retool

It’s time to retool your event with a new design, new set of programs and new intentions to create a new experience. It’s time to adapt and alter your past conference experience to make it more useful and suitable for your participants.

2. Redefine

It’s time to redefine your conference experience. It’s time to reevaluate and reexamine what you’ve always done. It’s time to reformulate and transform your conference into something fresh and exciting. It’s too familiar, too comfortable, too predictable, too average.

3. Revitalize

It’s time to imbue your conference with new life and vitality. If you current conference planning team is stuck and can’t do that, it’s time to revitalize the team with fresh blood. You need new perspectives, new vigor, new ideas.

4. Rethink

It’s time to reconsider everything about your current conference experience. It’s time to involve your conference team to reassess the what, when, how, why and where about your conference. You’ve brainwashed yourself into a corner that the current way you are doing things is the only way it will work. You need to think differently about what you are doing or you will continue to get the same results.

5. Respect

It’s time to have a new respect for those on your team that challenge the status quo. It’s time to give some admiration for those that have the courage to take risks. It’s time to place a premium value on innovation, difference of opinion and thought. It’s time to give dignity to retooling, redefining, revitalizing and rethinking about your conference.

6. Relationships

It’s time to give high respect for the relationships that people form at your conference. It’s time to think about the way your conference experience is connecting content, concepts, problems solving and people. Many conference experiences actually diminish relationship building by cramming schedules with too much to do. It’s time to use restraint and focus on connections.

Why are so many conference hosts unwilling to reexamine their conference planning process through the lens of their conference participant’s experience? Why are so many stuck in the same-old same old way of doing things?

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  1. Has anyone surveyed planners and posed your final question? I’d really love to know the obstacles they identify so the community can help tear them down.

  2. I suspect that part of the problem may be organizational or resource issues that put the power to change outside of a meeting manager’s reach. like Jeffrey, I think it would be interesting to find out.

  3. […] The Six Essential Re’s Of Successful Conferences […]

  4. This is why I love teaching meeting planning – there’s nothing to “Re.” It’s all fresh and new for them. And are they ever imaginative! The key is making sure they know there are options and that it is going to be up to them to break through the barriers when they start in the industry.

    1. Jeff Hurt says:

      No, I doubt anyone has survey planners and asked why they continue to do something the way they’ve always done it. I suspect that they have not been taught to do it differently is one reason. Or they’ve not taken Tyra Hillard’s classes! 🙂

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Sad but true…many organizations put the power of change outside of the meeting professional’s reach. Thanks for adding that point!

      Thank you, thank you, thank you for teaching new meeting professionals that they have options and can do things differently! That’s definitely a way to impact change and make a difference!

  5. Sue Walton says:

    From a Planner’s Perspective–Do I want to re? YES, but things get in my way like MONEY & COMMON SENSE. If I could do what my a majority participants want, my events would cost them nothing and they would be in Comfortable locations in the Northeast. They forget that my staff and I have to get paid & that hotel’s want X amount of F&B and sleeping rooms. My clients want ‘home hospitality’ instead of hotel rooms because it’s free.

    1. Jeff Hurt says:


      I think the challenge planners face is how to offer some of the Res and still make a profit. I think it can be done. And it needs to be done. I would frame the discussion this way, “What will it take to make this happen?” What would it take for us to invest our time and resources into doing something differently.

      I do agree that often clients don’t understand the business side of meetings and conferences. That’s a planner’s challenge for sure.

  6. Sue Walton says:

    There’s also the politics of meeting planning, if one is a third party indie, like me. I can’t rock the boat or I run the strong risk of loosing the client. My clients are also non-profits, so their objective is to break even. They often do have money in the bank to take risks/losses or use as seed capital.

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