So last week was the start of conference season for me — I had a great time at the South Texas HR Symposium #STXHRS and made some GREAT connections and heard some amazing sessions!
I average 3-4 conferences a year and try to to go to a number of webinars or local meetings as well (gotta keep up with my continuing ed right!?!!?). This was the first year that I’ve been on a chair for a conference and I learned SO much! … but it also got me thinking — what are some things that I wish were different about conferences.
1. Loyalty Program for Regular Attendees
Okay — I know about early bird registrations and corporate rates for companies that send a certain number of people — but what about a true loyalty program for those people who come back to your conference again and again. Take a page out of the retail book and find a way to reward the INDIVIDUALS who support your conference time and time again. Sure these are probably the same folks who sign up for the early bird even before all the details are released — so they are getting a good deal — but how cool would it be to have some kind of recognition or reward program for those who come back again and again (and maybe even bring their colleagues with them). Don’t want to knock off any more money — maybe give them a special name badge or VIP area — or special lunch. Just a little something to say “thank you for your continuous support.” Maybe its a silly idea — but then again, I’m the gal with a wallet and key ring full of reward cards — I LOVE ‘EM!
2. Ditch the Conference Briefcase Bag
… and give me a cool reusable bag. Let’s face it, I don’t need another briefcase (I probably already have mine with me — and no matter how great the logo is on yours, I’m not going to swap mine for the one I got). What I could use another one of — a great eco friendly tote. I am an Austin hippie and tree hugger so I don’t go anywhere without my bags — and I have closets and drawers full of them. The conference bags are great for the conference for holding papers and other goodies — but then what do you do with it? I’m likely going to donate it to a charity or school (what do you do with yours?), but not sure that its really sturdy enough for school books. Now a days there are SO many options for bags that can be used for the conference AND beyond. Hey, you probably have a sponsor who is paying for their logo to the on the bag, might as well put it on something that people want to use after the conference. I’ve gotten some cool small bags that work well for lunches and even a duffel that was perfect for the gym — and a ton of others in between. If I get a few of these at a conference and bring the swag back to the office, these are always some of the first things to get snatched up (right behind t-shirts).
3. Internet Please
So this is a gimmie in this day and age (I mean, McDonald’s has free internet)– and I know that it can be expensive to provide at some event centers, but let’s face it — people want to be connected — and they want to connect with you (or whoever)! I want to tweet, blog, take/send photos, check my email, connect with you on LinkedIn — kinda hard to do without a great wireless signal. Many folks have 3G or 4G or can make their own hotspot — but many people don’t. It’d be a great addition to have an awesome, reliable, strong, wireless signal. If you don’t have the resources to get wireless everywhere, consider having a publicized wireless spots/areas. And on a related note, publish or post your event hashtag and encourage your speakers to publish or post their hashtags or twitter handles or other soc media contact information. Yes I get that not everyone is into it — but those who are (and want to help spread the message to others) would really appreciate it. I promise you, I’m not ignoring you, but multi-tasking 🙂 — taking notes and sharing ideas/streams of consciousnesses with others.
Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE going to conferences — I love the information and energy — but just a few ideas that I had — and you know me, this girl always has an idea and an opinion to share.
What do you think — what are some of the things that you wished that conferences did that many of them don’t do?
Let me know your thoughts! Making the HR Connection, yours, the girl in HR