It is an exciting but challenging time for meeting planners as the profile of our attendee's changes. Now Gen Xers and Millennials are the predominant attendees at our meetings. The good news is these attendees do 'want to meet'. They are looking for mentors and peer connections to help grow their careers and education that will help them live better lives. It's a tall order for planners to produce a conference that really connects and is meaningful for their attendees while continuously reinventing and keeping it fresh each year. I've hosted top corporate and association conferences here at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess for the past decade and here is what I've learned: Today's meeting attendees want and appreciate disruption of the traditional conference.
Conference Attendees want more:
- Time in nature
- Opportunities for social-based sharing
- Use of technology
- Lots of food…but really delicious, varied and fun (feed me something I can only get there!)
- Help navigating the meeting
- Unique experiences and places
- Opportunities to do good and make a difference
Scottsdale meeting attendees do want the time they spend here to be meaningful and memorable. Psychologists share it's the memory of the experience that makes it so meaningful and our memories are filled with pictures, smells and feelings. Fill your conference with incredible visual inspiration, scents that energize, relax or comfort and create experiences that help your attendees feel stronger, better and smarter...and you will be guaranteed happy attendees.
Insider Tips from Scottsdale Conference Planners:
It's my hope you'll find something of inspiration from my list of Do's and Don'ts created from tips I've learned hosting some of the world's best conference planners.
- Choose photo-worthy locations and venues
- Create opportunities to take and share photos
- Enable socialization through technology, social sharing, realtime surveys and chat options
- Gamify your exhibits and conference sessions
- Invest in a custom interactive conference mobile app
- Connect via technology with attendees from registration through post-conference message reinforcement
- Use video to set mood and emotionally connect with attendees
- Plan a ‘bite size' meeting—think Ted Talk and break it up with opportunities to interact…they will be able to absorb content in the method they most prefer
- Plant ‘disrupters' in your meeting with tough questions that inspire meaningful conversation (come on, you know what company or industry issues are on everyone's mind!)
- Place cool mist scent machines in meeting rooms, changing aromatherapy scents to influence mood accordingly
- Find ways to add natural scents to the experience (steak firing on a BBQ, dinner in a rose garden, breakfast on the patio with a desert breeze, etc.)
- Make it fun by thinking outside-of-the-box. Why can't a continental be a Breakfast Club cereal bar?
- Provide authentic destination experiences with food, customs, local storytellers and entertainment
- Layer technology throughout your event, including recreation
- Schedule offsite adventure time , preferably in nature. They want to leave having experienced the destination (they are experience collectors!)
- Incorporate natural light wherever possible
- Give them directions on how to maximize your conference. They want to ‘meet well', but need guidance
- Create an opportunity for attendees to work as a group to do something that is socially responsible—give them the gift of feeling they made a difference in someone's life
- Give them something new to talk about
- Print and mail registration collateral
- Print paper programs
- Choose a cookie-cutter hotel (take the opportunity to find a unique or iconic host hotel/resort. You can find them in all budget!)
- Choose an uninspiring destination
- Host all meals and meetings in an indoor conference room
- Maintain the same conference agenda year after year
- Choose menus that guests could experience anywhere
- Schedule long speaker sessions without interactive breaks
- Use overhead projectors and clunky PowerPoint presentations in a general session
- Make it all about the ‘company' or ‘organization' (instead, focus on the people who populate it.)
Here are some tips for checking off your Do list at the Princess:
- Let our in-house vendor PSAV provide your customized meeting app and assist with your conference communication from start to finish (complimentary with exclusive use of PSAV for qualifying groups)
- Utilize our resort video to help promote our destination and conference digitally
- Take advantage of our 14 unique outdoor event venues, six pools, spa atrium and fitness rooms and top-ranked restaurants to host your meeting in non-traditional settings
- Allow our unique in-house destination management department , Adventure & Experiences, to create events that are unforgettable. Nobody knows how to showcase your event in our resort and local venues better than our in-house Adventure & Experiences team!
- Consult our team of "Foodie Gurus" to create the most memorable menus, perfectly customized for every unique on-property venue
- Incorporate interactive food experiences and stations into your events. Nothing anything allows attendees to be further engaged in their own personalized experience (branding their steaks, painting their dessert plates with sauces, etc.) while creating some amazing Instagram-worthy photography to go along with your conference's event hashtags!
- Add some of the many resort "taste makers" to enhance your reception experiences. Who doesn't want to have a personalized tequila tasting led by a Tequila Goddess during their Southwest conference experience? Or how about a rum-paired dinner, exposing your attendees to a new spirit to pair with food when they return home from the conference to show off to their family and friends! P.S.—The La Bomba exploding dessert course at Toro will keeping them talking for months to come.
- Buy-out a great restaurant for dinner to excite your attendees about their evening banquet experience! As the No. 1 dining resort in Arizona, your guests will love dining were the locals hangout in Scottsdale, without ever having to leave the resort!
- Host a dine-around! Allow your guests to experience the numerous restaurants on property while finishing off the evening with your group back together for a dessert reception and continued networking!
- Kick-off your conference at registration with a welcome cocktail and small bites introducing a taste of the destination (one of our most popular is passing margaritas with demonstrations and tastings of salsa and guacamole and a Nuevo flamenco Guitarist upon arrival)
- Close your conference with a bang! Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is one of the few resorts in the area with the ability to present firework displays on-site. Let our team assist you with arrangements and if you book summer, we'll throw in fireworks free for groups of 100 rooms or more staying two nights
- Let A&E and PSAV join together to create a high-tech interactive, visually stimulating and conference experience for your attendees
- Let our event artists help design your next conference
The most important trend impacting today's meetings is the need to be original, not redundant. It's big challenge for meeting planners to fulfill the need to top last year's conference! That's why we have recruited an incredibly passionate and creative team
, who are willing to put in the extra effort to make sure they achieve your goals in a new and unique manner year after year. That's what partners do, right?