There’s no question that when people take time out of their busy schedules – and money out of the budget – to attend a conference or event, they want to see a return on their investment. But that shouldn’t come at the expense of their experience. Cramming in too many education sessions, speakers or even casual mixers for networking can frazzle even the most gung-ho attendee. The result? A compromised experience.
Instead of cramming business into every nook and cranny, remind your busy attendees to take time for themselves. Infuse some wellness into the meeting. A calm, well-rested guest is energized, receptive and ready to experience your conference to the fullest. Here are a few ideas.
Food for Thought
Healthy eating can be difficult when you’re traveling for work. Making it easier for attendees will score you some points, as will turning them onto new ways to snack.
Tahini: It’s the peanut butter of the Middle East! Rich and healthful (tahini is made of sesame; it’s loaded with heart-healthy phytosterols!), it’s a crucial ingredient in hummus, but you can also mix things up by serving it for dessert in the form of fudgy-crumbly halva, a delightful sesame sweet. You can also look into power bar-like offerings such as the Absolutely TahiniBAR or do a double super-food hit with tahini kale chips.
Pumpkin isn’t just for August (when Halloween stuff starts hitting the shelves)! Pumpkin is super-high in potassium and Vitamin A. The latter is a vision-booster, which all of us – especially those reading this on their phone right now – could use. It also has fiber, Vitamins B6, C and E and a good dose of iron. LARABAR makes a pumpkin pie flavor that’s vegan, 200 calories and has just 9 ingredients, including other superfoods like dates, almonds, cinnamon and ginger.
Happiness … we can sure use more of it. And really, is there anything less akin to staring at a screen or a phone than F2F (or, if you feel like bringing back the Bump – hip to hip!) fun on the dance floor?
Sure, you could try finding an instructor for a class in Kizomba, Bachata or some other dance or dance-fitness genre to get the toes tapping and the blood pumping early, pre-session, but you might want to try getting everyone out of their seat at your signature event instead.
Set the stage for success with the right room, mood lighting and atmosphere. Try something clubby, with targeted lights, plush VIP-like seating around the floor.
You also might bring in a few ringers to get the room moving. This could mean hip-hop and break dancers to take people back to their high-school days (or, for Millennials – hook them in with something retro and ‘80s, an “in” decade at the moment!). Flamenco, too, is contagious, as are various other Latin dances. Bring out the pros to encourage your attendees to get stomping, get energized, and get happy!
A No-Phone Zone
Ask about bringing phones into meetings and you’ll get a range of answers, but while you may not be able to keep folks from glancing at their emails during sessions, you can schedule an early event – yoga or meditation perhaps, or even a program that focuses on relaxing one’s eyes – that bring our tech use front-of-mind and encourages people to put down the devices, pay attention and live more in the moment. It’s a useful tactic in the meeting room – and at home, in the living room.
Facts for Fundraising
It’s a topic on everyone’s mind. All the time. But is your association optimized for fundraising?
Going Mobile. Next year, the forecast says the number of cell phone users will reach 4.68 billion. With a B! It will pass 5, say prognosticators, before 2019 is out. The moral of the story? If your online fundraising site isn’t mobile-friendly, it should be your first order of business.
The “In” Crowd. Have you tried crowdfunding yet? You’ve certainly seen it in action, raising money for all kinds of causes – large and small – via platforms like GoFundMe and Kickstarter. Why not join the fray? Crowdfunding does its best work getting small donations from large numbers of people. Give your members incentives (the chance to win a free online course, event discounts, even association-related merchandise) and watch the money roll in.
Puttin’ on the Blitz. A catchy name, a relevant date, some fun artwork and perhaps a few prizes for various plateaus hit can be the ingredients in a planned one-day email campaign to boost the coffers. Send several pre-game day emails and post often on social media (a creative hashtag will help; and give the plan a recognizable identity next year!). Be sure to keep up the social on the day-of with updates on how you’re doing and any surprise prizes for incentive.
Lone Star Stays
Southwestern hospitality abounds in Texas – and it’s ever expanding, too! Read on for some regional news – hotels, restaurants and more – from the southern part of the state.
You may already know that the U.S.S. Lexington and it’s Museum on the Bay was an historic attraction in Corpus Christi, but did you know it’s available for events? The Hangar Deck has more than 40,000 square feet of space for groups of 10 to 2,600 can meet, eat, celebrate and network (whether they watch fireworks from here is up to you).
The St. Anthony Hotel, a luxury stay in downtown San Antonio, has a brand-new venue for morning and midday dining. Set inside the atrium space overlooking Travis Park, Gallery on the Park’s breakfast and lunch menu is comprised of locally sourced ingredients. “Gallery” is an operative word, as the eatery will treat diners to an eclectic collection of art – tapestries, paintings, sculpture, much of it local, as well – throughout the space. Goodies here include house-smoked salmon, brisket hash and the very, very Texas Dr. Pepper-braised pork belly.
New out on the water this year, the LongBoard Bar & Grill in South Padre Island is doing its best to recapture the magic of live, outdoor music in a local and beloved old space that was shuttered for the past seven years, but was home to some old favorite haunts of SPI’s past. And there’s more than its already revitalized space to come. In the works: two more restaurants, a sports bar, roof deck bar and lounge and event space!
Author Amy Drew Thompson is a travel and hospitality writer.
Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Yuri_Arcurs