When the sky’s the limit for your budget, creating “wow” moments at your meeting is more a matter of imagination and logistics than anything else. But for the vast majority of meeting professionals who find the pressure is always on to exceed expectations and deliver a truly memorable event while working with a tight budget, here are some new approaches to consider:
Deploy your leadership team to mix and mingle
Too often the top brass is hard to find at meetings except on stage to deliver an address. But when you put a CEO or executive director in the middle of the opening night banquet, or when he or she is found roaming around the tradeshow floor shaking hands and asking questions, watch what happens: a little ping of “wow” that goes a long way.
Build surprise into your program
Predictable is an event planner’s best friend but for attendees predictable these days only goes so far before robot mode takes over and people’s bodies are at the meeting but their minds are elsewhere. Surprise can take many forms. It could be an unannounced guest speaker, a small gift dropped in the registration tote bag, a “blank” session where attendees show up and discuss issues of their own choosing, a “spontaneous” photo op on the trade show floor with a local celebrity, or an unexpected personal invitation to attend a VIP reception.
Step out of the box when it comes to audio-visual, F&B, and entertainment
These three areas continue to be the most fertile ground for creating “wow” experiences for attendees, so here’s where you have to push your suppliers to tap the frontiers of novelty and excitement while keeping aligned with your budget and overall messaging.
Ask your service providers to bring their most creative ideas to you and your team and see what sticks to the wall
Dancing holograms at the opening general session? A shrimp boat filled with local catch at the closing reception? Cocktails under a parachute in an airfield? Creative brainstorming is the fun part, then there’s the reality check on what’s doable, appropriate, etc. Too many planners get this order reversed and end up with safe but “wowless” audio-visual, F&B, and entertainment programs.
Written by Regina McGee