By Gareth McTiffin
The word ‘conference’ can have its connotations, and unfortunately, it sometimes sparks an image of drab grey chairs, clipboards and predictable lunches… Egg and cress, anyone?
The days of lifeless conferences are truly behind us, as event planners and businesses have been working hard at getting it right when it comes to creative conferencing.
While conference-goers have become all too used to Powerpoint presentations and finger sandwiches, you can exceed their expectations, captivate their attention and give them a conference that’s as fun as it is insightful. The key to a good (and memorable) conference is attention to detail and most importantly, the element of surprise.
It can be easy to assume a conference is all about business with no room for fun, but with a little thought and a little creativity, it can be pretty simple to liven it up.
Finding the ultimate backdrop
The first step is to find your perfect venue, and the best venue spaces are often unique and unexpected. The right venue can get your guests talking about your event before they even walk through the door, adding to the anticipation and even igniting conversation across your social media platforms. Don’t forget to check those mentions.
Already ticked that off your list? Here’s how to make the most of your big conference in a unique venue…
Breakout of your comfort zone and into interesting breakout spaces
Lectures and presentations are a vital element to all conferences, but guests need interesting spaces to explore and relax in between the business of talks, seminars and panel discussions.
You’ll also want to minimise the chances of guests leaving the building to see what is on offer elsewhere, e.g. if they need to run to the nearest Starbucks for a sugary jolt of caffeine, chances are that’s something they’ll have loved to have seen on site.
If your venue has plenty of room, you can create cosy corners with lounge seating and coffee stations, or maybe hold ice breaker activities in a separate area where guests can get to know each other without added pressure.
With a lab, boardroom and on-site planetarium, we’ve got plenty of ways to keep things interesting.
Clever catering goes a long way
We all have one shared interest, and that’s food. It’s almost a guarantee that catering can make or break an event, and one way or another, it will get people talking.
While a conference may seem like another opportunity for a trusty finger food buffet or predictable hot lunch, it’s the perfect chance to get creative. Teaming up with the right caterer can help you with this, and we work closely with our friends at Epic Caterers to cook up inventive, smart and delicious food options, all with your guests in mind.
Why not add some street food to your event, or theme your catering around your conference topic? If you’re keen to sweeten things up, you could always arrange pick and mix stations as an extra treat.
The bonus of booking a unique venue is the chance to enjoy everything the venue usually has to offer on a normal day. We’ve got two-floors of hands-on, interactive science exhibits and even a VR experience that will bring out the child in everyone. You could even plan a scavenger hunt around our building, which is perfect for relationship building and giving people something to talk about.
Do it for the ‘gram
It goes without saying that your guests will want to document their experience on their social media channels, so why not embrace it?
We love thinking outside of the box when it comes to a guest’s experience and this often includes creating visual talking points, all with social media in mind.
This could mean something as simple as giant photo frames, cut out boards, or maybe an instant photo station where guests can take away a tangible memory.
Eager to get feedback? Why not set up a colourful graffiti wall where guests can leave messages, business cards and feedback for the hosts.
If you enjoyed our tips on taking your conference from drab to fab and want to see what we can offer for your next event, get in touch with our events team.