In today’s successful forward-thinking conferences and events, the experience has become more sophisticated and seamless.
It flows back and forth between participants, experts, speakers and event organizers. No longer is the conference host or speaker seen as the primary source of content and information. It’s a fluid and dynamic experience, rich in relationship building and sharing.
Three Styles Your Conference Should Wear
Here’s a look at three styles in conference experiences, their implications and changes to observe.
Web 2.0 has taught us that it’s better to play together than alone. Yes there are times when we need to put our nose to the grindstone and focus on getting work done. Yet in most cases, the collaborative process benefits everyone.
In progressive dynamic conferences, conference hosts have moved the hallway learning into the education session. Presenters are asked to facilitate more than just lecture. Participants and experts are learning from each other in a variety of ways.
Sharing information and learning from our peers has proven to be a powerful learning tool whether face to face or digitally. Learning together is being woven into the fabric of the conference experience. Asking participants to share what has or hasn’t worked with them is taking front stage.
Collaboration in conference experiences is simple. It allows participants to find common ground, balance skills, communicate clearly and create learning and accountability networks.
Watch for hospitality organizations to create best practices and guidelines for collaboration before, during and after a conference. Look for organizers to focus on securing facilitators more than speakers.
The mobile device is pervasive at conferences and events. We’ve become a society that wants to track and document our personal experiences as well as share them with others. Our social networks are our digital portfolios like the scrapbooks of the past.
Savvy conference organizers implement text to screen, interactive polling, geo-caching (conference scavenger hunts), Wiki spaces (for collaborative session note taking), Skype speakers and geo-location conference check-ins. They encourage social sharing of the content and experience.
Some meeting professionals entice participants and speakers to create media for marketing and sharing. Podcasts and videos add a digital transmedia storytelling layer to the experience.
Look for savvy conference organizers to create a digital portfolio, the equivalent of a media-rich resume, to showcase their conference experience.
Most meeting professionals view the conference experience as a standalone event. It has a definite start and end time. Once it ends, it’s filed and forgotten.
Savvy, dynamic conference organizers view the conference as integrated into a full spectrum of customer touchpoints. The annual meeting is one experience assimilated into an ecosystem of community experiences. Each experience, whether digital or face to face is threaded and connected with others.
These conference organizers view the conference from a holistic point of view. They create opportunities for participants to connect with each other, speakers, experts, exhibitors and sponsors before they arrive. They design learning experiences before and after the conference. They initiate conversations weeks in advance of the onsite experience.
Look for more conference organizers to work with programming to thread the event within the year’s education programming.
How can social media augment integrated conference experiences and collaboration? What technology tools have you used successfully at an event?