Better Engage Staff Teams Who Attend Your Conference

While associations strive to give each conference attendee a personalized experience, what can you do to support staff groups who come to your events? A few ideas to get you started.

I ran into a former colleague at the 2019 ASAE Annual Meeting & Exposition last week, who told me that she was attending the conference with five of her coworkers.

They had done plenty of advance work. She said the six of them had gotten together about a week ahead of the meeting to plot out their schedules. They each selected different sessions to attend and exhibitors to visit so they would avoid overlap, unless it was critical for multiple people to be at the same place at the same time. Every person’s schedule was put into a group calendar, and a shareable doc was created where everyone could add their notes and takeaways.

On top of all that, they scheduled an all-staff meeting for a week after they got back so they could share their learnings and a-ha moments with those who couldn’t make it to Columbus.

I told her I was impressed with their level of commitment—not only to making the most of their opportunities onsite but also to bringing what they learned back to everyone at their association.

This group clearly did a phenomenal job plotting out their team’s time at #ASAE19, and they got me thinking about whether associations should have a strategy to support staff teams who may be attending their conference. Here are three things that could be good starting points:

Group scheduling. Almost every event app has a function that allows attendees to create a personalized schedule. Associations could be smart to add a team scheduling function that allows an organization to create a master schedule within the app. Or if that’s too complicated, perhaps there’s way to allow attendees to share their schedules with one another within the app.

Concierge service. Since these groups are spending a lot to attend your event, it may make sense to provide them with a dedicated staffer—a concierge, if you will—who can answer their questions, help with registration and housing, and even create a schedule for the team. The schedule could come as result of a phone call with the group before the conference where they lay out their goals and describe the problems they’re looking to solve.

Space onsite. There’s a good chance these teams may want to debrief or touch base while they’re at your conference, so consider offering them a place to do so. Keep in mind that the space doesn’t need to be fancy: It could be as simple as a small room in the venue that includes tables and chairs.

Of course, I’m not the only one to consider this idea. A few months back, Dave Lutz, managing director of Velvet Chainsaw Consulting, offered his own how-tos on the topic for MeetingsNet.

Now I’m curious to hear from you: Tell me how your association has helped support teams who attend your conferences and events.

(jacoblund/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

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

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