Meetings

Do You Need a Conference Concierge?

By / Apr 20, 2018 (zhudifeng/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Looking to offer your attendees a more personalized experience at an upcoming event? A conference concierge may help you achieve that and more.

When I was traveling in Macau two years ago and knew I wanted to treat myself to a delicious dinner, I decided to take advantage of a certain hotel service for the first time: the concierge.

With very limited input from me—“I want something authentic and delicious that won’t completely blow my budget”—five minutes later, I was in a cab and on my way to A Lorcha. Long story short: It was amazing, and if you ever find yourself in Macau, do yourself a favor and go.

If it wasn’t for that concierge, I’m certain I would have never had the pleasure of dining there. And, when I got back later that evening, I was sure to thank him for that recommendation and acknowledged that he really listened to me and suggested something that fit exactly what I was looking for.

Besides hotels, do you know where else a concierge could be helpful? At association conferences.

A conference concierge could play any or all of the following roles: suggest education sessions for attendees, book meetings with exhibitors, offer dining recommendations, and help attendees build their conference schedule.

In fact, several conferences—both association-related and not—already have such a service in place.

Take C2 Montréal’s Concierges Extraordinaire. Every participant at C2—there’s usually around 5,000 of them—is assigned a concierge, because as the event’s website says, “everyone’s a VIP in our house.”

C2’s concierges are volunteers who are carefully selected and undergo specialized customer service training. Their top priorities are to ensure every participant gets the most out of their C2 experience and to serve as go-to resources onsite for info about the event, location, and city at large.

And, at the HOW Design Live conference in Boston later this month, attendees who bought the Big Ticket Plus package—the priciest on the list—have access to a preconference concierge service that will answer any questions they have.

On the association side of things, the Association for Continuing Legal Education has an onsite concierge service that allows attendees to ask questions of speakers, as well as receive advice on selecting suitable sessions to attend and get technical assistance. Then, there’s the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Explorations’ VIP Access Conference Pass, which gives that group of attendees a dedicated staff concierge during the conference.

While it may not be realistic for associations to assign a concierge to every attendee like C2 does, I think the role of a conference concierge can be scaled up or down depending on what an organization is looking to achieve.

For example, if you’re trying to give your participants a personalized and more exclusive experience, pairing each of them up with a concierge who can help them plan their time onsite can help you achieve that.

But, if that’s not possible, having a dedicated concierge area in the exhibit hall could be an easier way to offer the service on a smaller scale. You may also consider using some of your organization’s member volunteers to serve as concierges. It’s a good way for them to give back to the industry and get to know new people.

What other benefits do you think a conference concierge could bring to both attendees and the association hosting? Please share in the comments.

Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editorial director of Associations Now. More »

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