Thinking differently about planning events after planning a wedding.
I must have been absent the day the universe handed out event-planning skills. I find putting together even a garden-variety birthday party challenging. So over the past year and a half, I’ve played a largely supporting role to my daughter in planning her wedding for this fall. The project has given me a completely different vantage point on what it takes to create a great customer experience—whether the customer is a wedding guest or a conference attendee.
The right venue, great food and beverage, convenient transportation options, clear communication, and small tokens of appreciation for those who attend—these are elements that make an event both work well and feel right. And while the C-plus event planner in me would have been willing to forgo certain details, our A-plus bride would have none of it. She was right to insist on decisions that will create an easy, fun, memorable experience for the family and friends who come to celebrate with us.
I admire that mindset in the A-plus event planners in associations, who have so much more complexity to contend with as they plan meetings for hundreds or thousands of attendees with ever-higher expectations for convenience, experience, learning—and, ultimately, value.
In this year’s Meetings Issue, we look at the ways that conference planning has both changed and stayed the same. Site selection is, of course, fundamental, but attendees’ venue demands are constantly evolving. Attendees come to learn, but new communication channels and technology platforms provide opportunities to extend the learning beyond the conference dates. And new security threats in the world today mean that ensuring safety requires much more than reminding attendees to remove their name badges when they leave the conference center.
So here’s a toast to the uncompromising event planners in the association world: May you succeed in providing an A-plus experience, every time.