Conference Organizers: Learn From Your Local Mall
If you are trying to arrange a large conference for your business or industry, it can be a daunting task. It’s your responsibility to attract as many people as possible, and once they are there, they need to be suitably entertained. There are safety and security concerns to think about, too, not to mention trying to manage – potentially – thousands of people in one place.
There is plenty of standard advice on organizing a fantastic conference or corporate event, of course, and I’ve covered some great ideas on this blog before. And there is plenty of inspiration out there if you look hard enough – including in some surprising places.
Take your local mall, for example. They are huge areas which exist for the sole purpose of attracting enormous amounts of people – and there is a lot that business event coordinators can learn from them. Let’s take a closer look at some examples of the ways that conference organizers can be inspired by mall management.
It’s not just about the main event.
Malls always have a few headline stores and big names to pull in the vast majority of customers. But that’s not all there is to them – there are places to eat, independent stores, and a lot more going on than just shopping. As a conference organizer, you should be thinking a little deeper about the experience you are providing to your audience. Yes, the big names and themes are essential for drawing people in, but they will expect more once they arrive.
They put the customer at the heart of everything.
When you go to a mall, everything is built to serve the audience. Security guards protect them, shops serve them, and kiosk information systems and customer service desks show them where they need to go. So, as an organizer, don’t make the show about you or the business, you work for. Make it clear it’s about giving something to the audience, and entice them by explaining how they will benefit from attending. Without customers, malls will die – and the same principle applies to your conference.
Safety is of utmost importance.
It’s easy to forget about the safety and security of your guests when you are organizing a conference. After all, what could possibly go wrong? The simple truth is you have to plan for anything to happen and ensure that everyone in the conference team knows what to do in the event of an emergency. If an accident occurs in a mall, their complete security and safety procedures will be under a lot of security, as will yours be at your conference. And if you are at fault, it can be incredibly damaging to your brand name.
Quality of venue and presentation is critical.
Finally, malls are designed as an environment to give people a great experience. And I have to say, many business and industry conferences I attend these days appear to have forgotten about this vital point. Nothing is enticing about holding an event in an old, dilapidated classroom, or a bland, soulless room. If you want to encourage attendees to be more engaged, you have to pick the right venue and decorate it, so they remember.
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