During the last few years, the whole concept around event planning has changed (okay – almost everything else has changed during the past few years, but for the purposes of this blog, let’s focus on our industry).
When I started as a corporate planner, an executive would decide that our company needed to have a meeting to educate or motivate employees, and everyone would be told where and when to be present.
And if someone was lucky enough to qualify for a corporate incentive, they knew that their future career growth might depend on how well they demonstrated their corporate suitability while on a trip with senior executives.
Today, organizers need to plan carefully the focus of any event, to ensure that participants get the most benefit from their investment of time and energy.
Content must be engaging and be of real business value to the participants – workplace demographics have changed and many invitees are likely to ask how they will benefit by participating in an event and then decide if they will attend or not.
And while incentive programmes are still being held, most include business sessions designed to benefit top achievers or offer more networking time where participants can share ideas and strategies.
I believe that attendees today often expect to be asked to contribute input as to what will be addressed at an event; plan to actively participate throughout the on-site activities, both in open discussions and by using social media; and are disappointed if organizers do not invite them to continue the work begun at the event, by inviting all participants to prolong the dialogue online.
Event strategies are now almost all about content and event structure.
And I certainly don’t mean that logistical mastery is dead.
Great venues, exciting menus and opportunities to experience new things are more important to participants today than they ever were.
The challenge for today’s planners is to weave excellent content effectively into each event, and design the logistics so that the experience is so memorable that each attendee will feel that he or she participated in an event that was both professionally and personally rewarding.
Content is definitely king, but everyone involved in our industry should be looking for ways to add real value to the event experience.