Is This Meeting Worth the Wait?

With so many professional development opportunities out there for members, associations must deliver a seamless meeting experience from beginning to end.

Last Friday night I headed over to Nationals Park here in DC for the Bruce Springsteen show. With “The Boss” set to take the stage a little after 8 p.m., I figured I would have plenty of time when I arrived at the ballpark a little before 7. Boy, was I wrong!

There isn’t an association meeting planner out there who doesn’t want genuine attendee enthusiasm right from the start.

More than an hour later, as Springsteen was about to start his second song, there I was, still standing in line, amongst a sea of fans, who started to chant, “Let us in! Let us in!” Security seemed overwhelmed. Line control didn’t exist. And then once we got in, we had to wait in another line for a wristband, only to stand in another line to make our way down to the field since we could only enter through one section. (Scroll through the Twitter hashtag #brucedc, and you’ll get a better sense of the fans’ frustration.)

Sure, in the grand scheme of things, missing 20 minutes of a three-hour, 45-minute concert isn’t the end of the world. And although the logistical nightmare I witnessed onsite may make me question attending another non-baseball game there, it also got me thinking about how my show-going experience relates to the meeting attendee experience.

For comparison, look at what Jeffrey Golembiewski tweeted after he checked in earlier this week at the Dreamforce ‘12 conference. (Shout out to Tuesday’s Social Media Roundup that first featured this.)

And his praise continued the next day:

While Dreamforce isn’t an association conference, there isn’t an association meeting planner out there who doesn’t want that same genuine attendee enthusiasm right from the start. We all know that’s easier said than done, but associations are tossing out lots of new ideas to keep attendees engaged and interacting over the course of a meeting: anything from considering digital event engagement managers to testing new education formats. And in a world where your members have tons of options for where to spend their money on professional development, associations must offer a first-class meeting experience from check-in to check-out that compares to any other conference out there, association-related or not.

What are some new ideas you’re testing out to keep attendees engaged and interacting at meetings? Or what’s the best meeting experience you’ve had as an attendee?

This is a caption for the image that will show if set

Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!