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Five Things to Consider Before Cancelling Your Conference

Posted By Ewald Consulting, Friday, March 20, 2020
As a result of COVID-19, we are seeing retail stores and restaurants close, artists postpone concerts, and large events such as festivals cancelling. What should you do about a conference you may have scheduled for next month, or even three months from now? Vicki Thein, Director of Events at Ewald Consulting, has a few thoughts on what to consider before cancelling your conference:

 

1.     What does the venue contract say?
Carefully review the terms of your contract with the venue. Check to see if force majeure applies and what it covers. If it does not apply, determine the costs of cancelling and if those funds could be applied toward a future event. Additionally, closely monitor the conditions of the venue location and try to get a sense of how many attendees may cancel in order to help you state your case to the venue if needed.

2.     What do your vendor contracts say?
Like venue contracts, review contracts with your vendors. See if force majeure applies, the costs if it does not and if they could give you credit in the event of a cancellation. The flexibility on cancellations with vendors will vary, so be sure to look at each contract closely.

3.     Is there cancellation insurance?
If you have cancellation insurance, get in contact with your insurance agent as soon as you can as they are very likely becoming overloaded with similar requests.

4.     Are you able to distribute the content virtually?
Are there opportunities for your conference material to be put into a virtual conference, podcasts, or other forms of content? Brainstorm what this might look like and if you think it could be successful.

5.     Financial considerations
Can your organization afford to go without a conference this year? This will be a major factor in your decision. Considering alternative conference options like the ones mentioned above could provide potential sources of revenue.

Additional Resources:

·      Event Industry Council - https://www.eventscouncil.org/
·      Meeting Professionals International - https://www.mpi.org/
·      AMC Institute - https://amci.memberclicks.net/

 

Tags:  association management  conferences  COVID-19  event management 

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Top 3 Reasons Your Conference Needs Mobile

Posted By Ewald Consulting, Thursday, October 24, 2019

What was once a deluxe conference amenity has become a necessary tool of engagement for successful events. Make your conference mobile and watch as speakers, exhibitors and attendees connect and communicate online. Excite your potential audiences before the event starts, engage with the attendees onsite and evolve throughout the process in response to change. All it takes is an app.

EXCITE YOUR AUDIENCE

In the weeks leading up to your event, a mobile app campaign drives excitement for a future experience. Downloading a conference mobile app provides a tangible teaser for a still far-off event. It gets the conference on the minds and in the hands (literally) of your audience before a meeting convenes. 

Through yet another channel, your brand, your content and your vision can reach your anticipatory audience.

Pro tip: offer an incentive to download the app. Nothing spurs attendees into action faster than the possibility of free stuff.

ENGAGE YOUR ATTENDEES

At any event, you’ve just gathered many of the best minds in your field in one space for a few hours or a few days. Now that they’re here, you need them to engage: with speakers, with exhibitors and with each other!

  • Engage with Speakers: Speakers come prepared as subject-matter experts. Polling and survey features offered through a mobile app can turn a presentation from a one-sided lecture into an interactive event. A mobile app’s ability to collect real-time data from the audience allows speakers to connect with attendees, answer questions and shape their presentations to suit the crowd.
  • Engage with Exhibitors: Companies joining you from far and wide come with expectations to make connections. As their unique swag often demonstrate, sponsors and exhibitors want to get their name in your hands. With a mobile app, it already is. Exhibitor websites and contact information, and digital handouts become instantly available to all attendees. It’s a simple perk for the companies that might just keep them coming back for more.
  • Engage with each other: The universal advantage of in-person events is the networking opportunities inherent. However, as attendees meet new faces in the field, especially at large events, it can be difficult to keep track of these new contacts. Mobile apps provide a fully filled-in contact book and messaging system without the hassle of keeping track of business cards or asking for phone numbers. Encouraging attendees to include their picture with their profile? Even better for those of us not blessed with the gift of face/name memory!

You’ll want an app a mobile app to drive your speakers and attendees to not only to listen but to engage. Empower your audiences to connect through a technology we all know well.

EVOLVE WITH CHANGE

Despite your meeting planner’s best efforts, plans change. As rooms fill up faster than anticipated and speakers call in sick—your mobile app can alleviate the headache of last-minute change.

Rather than disparaging your beautifully branded signage and collateral with handwritten speaker updates and blacked-out sessions, leverage the power of digital technology to make quick updates looks seamless. 

Mobile app push notifications provide a sort of virtual intercom. Communication is immediate and allows your event to evolve as quickly as the outside world.

Conferences are a great opportunity for your organization to showcase the caliber of members and body of knowledge. Mobile applications will only help you improve your conference attendee’s experience and increase the ROI of your event.

Tags:  conferences  engagement  event management  marketing communications  social media  technology 

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Trends in Conference Management

Posted By Ewald Consulting, Thursday, October 17, 2019

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Millennials are now the largest generation in the U.S. workforce. As of 2017, there were 56 million Millennials (ages 22-37) working or looking for work — over one-third of the workforce.

Chart displaying growth of millennials as a segment of the workforce

With a growing need for our workforce to be trained and upskilled, conferences can play an important role in employee development.

To get Millennials to attend conferences and join our organizations, we must create more engaging and technologically focused offerings to meet this market segment who are interested in experiences, involvement and engagement.

7 Conference Best Practices

  1. Define and communicate the purpose and mission of the event to prove ROI. Create downloadable “Convince Your Boss” letters.
  2. Personalizing strategies – who are the sessions designed for? Are they interactive to engage attendees? Is there time for connection and conversation? How can attendees connect with other attendee segments and interests onsite?
  3. Purposeful experience – well-being activities, social impact days to give back to the community.
  4. Performances and offsite events at museums or local attractions.
  5. Enhanced conference technology including chatbots, 5G internet, wearable technology, real-time data, creative room design with technology access and charging stations, mobile apps.
  6. Nutrition, mindfulness and wellness: planning for dietary requirements; creating time for “brain breaks” – doodling, coloring, outside walks, Legos.
  7. Engage attendees using gamification – there are many gamers in this segment of the workforce.

Here are some additional resource articles on meeting trends to generate more ideas for your conference.

As our attendees and stakeholders continue to shift, associations must change up our conferences to not only maintain registration numbers but to take them to a whole new level: driving community, engagement and membership. Over one-third of the workforce and those who need education, community and engagement the most are counting on us to drive innovation and offer engaging and memorable experiences using trends and technology.

Tags:  association management  conferences  engagement  member value  trends 

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Creating Memorable Conference Experiences

Posted By Ewald Consulting, Friday, October 11, 2019

It takes a team effort to make conference experiences memorable for attendees, presenters and exhibitors/sponsors. All parties play an important role in the success and value of attending in person events.

Our Event Management and Marketing & Communications departments formed a Conference Success Team to help our clients improve the conference experience for speakers, sponsors/exhibitors and attendees by creating a resource landing page with all the resources to ensure a positive conference experience before, during and after an event.

The number-one priority is creating relevant content for each audience. So, it’s important to research trends in the profession, conduct a professional development assessment, review membership surveys and past conference surveys to use feedback to improve and enhance the conference experience. Doing it “the way we’ve always done it” won’t cut it.

When you understand what your audience wants, you can then create the framework and tracks that will be the basis for your call for presenters. In addition to contact information, make sure you collect the following session information:

  • Presentation/Session Title (15-word limit)
  • Presentation/Session Description or Presentation (150-word limit)
  • Learning Objectives (require at least three)
  • Select Audience (for example: experience level, society type, organization size)
  • What keywords relate to your presentation topic? This is for search engine optimization as we promote the conference.
  • Provide a two-sentence promotion of your presentation for social media postings.

Getting this information at the beginning will provide the structure for the conference marketing plan.
Exhibitors and sponsors help keep the cost of conferences down for attendees and they also offer a way to make connections on business resources available to attendees. Creating value and ROI for exhibitors and sponsors creates value for the attendees.

The Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association (HEDNA) offers unique sponsorship opportunities that enhance the value for both the sponsor and the attendee. They also utilize cool technology at their conference such as a full LED wall with movable graphics, a Gobo light with logo sponsors and video. They also have a dedicated HEDNA TV Channel on YouTube that features conference sessions and helps promote future conferences, giving attendees access to the quality content that is delivered at the event.

HEDNA doesn’t have exhibitors but rather offers different types sponsorship opportunities to show unique value to the sponsors while enhancing the conference attendee experience. They have Nooks/Event pods branded with sponsor logos, offering the attendees a soundproof space with white boards, television monitors, videos and allowing for attendee conversations.


Example of nook/event pod with gobo lights (left) and coffee logo (right) at HEDNA LA 2019

Gobo lights make it possible to project sponsor logos on the walls. It’s a simple and effective way to enhance the conference experience at a reasonable price. In addition, they set up a HEDNA café with existing furniture in the hotel and a barista, featuring specialty coffees with the sponsor logo on top of the coffee froth.


Event app gamification example from Eventmobi

The Product Development and Management Association (PDMA) offers a variety of hotel signage and walls/door clings and gobos for conference sponsors as well. This year, PDMA will use gamification in their mobile app to engage attendees.
For the Qualitative Research Consultants Association and Recognition Professionals International, we launched a “Reporter on the Scene” program; members volunteered to fill out an online form for each session and these were developed into blog posts and other content.

At the conferences, we encourage attendees to use hashtags and provide social media tip sheets to get conversations going and keep them going year-round after the conference experience is over. A strong conference and in-person connections foster loyalty and year-round connections.

For attendees, we offer ways to connect with other attendees at the conference in meet-ups, connecting in the mobile app and offering interactive sessions. It’s also important to create time between sessions to allow for conversations, sharing and networking so that learning sticks and new connections are created.

Half of the population are introverts — so it’s important to offer a variety of ways to connect in the manner attendees want. We will share tips on how to get the most out of conferences in a future post.

Mindfulness and wellness activities — both in the workplace and at conferences — are also becoming more popular. Organized walks and runs, yoga or other exercises, healthy snacks and meditation tips are a great way to add new value for attendees that they can take home.

Create memorable conference experiences for your members before, during and after each event!

Tags:  conferences  engagement  event management  member value 

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MUST-HAVE Event Formulas

Posted By Ewald Consulting, Thursday, October 3, 2019

Planning an event? Here are some MUST-HAVE event formulas from functional room set-ups to food and beverage formulas that will help you plan the perfect event!

I. FUNCTION ROOM SET-UPS

Reception

  • 9-10 sq. ft. per person (standard bar/hors d'oeuvres)
  • Rule of Thumb:  10 feet

Theatre

  • Less than 60 people = 12-13 sq. ft. per person
  • 60-300 people = 11-12 sq. ft. per person
  • 300+ people = 10-11 sq. ft. per person
  • Rule of Thumb:  10 feet

Theatre Notes:

  • Allow at least 24 inches of space between rows
  • If room is rectangular, set presenter to the long side
  • First row no closer than 2x screen height (2x8 rule)
  • Center section of seating no more than 14 chairs
  • 2 side aisles should be at least 4 feet wide

Schoolroom

  • General = 17-22 sq. ft. per person (18" tables - add 1 sq. ft. per person for 30")
  • Less than 60 people = 22-23 sq. ft. per person
  • 60-300 people = 20-21 sq. ft. per person
  • 300+ people = 17-18 sq. ft. per person
  • Allow 3.5' between rows
  • Rule of Thumb:  20 feet

Conference

  • 2-3 feet of table length per person

Banquet

  • 60 inch = 8-9 people (12.5-13.5 sq. ft. per person)
  • 66 inch = 9-10 people (12.5-13.5 sq. ft. per person)
  • 72 inch = 10-11 people (12.5-13.5 sq. ft. per person)
  • Rule of Thumb:  13 feet

Platforms (a.k.a. Risers)

  • Can be 6, 12, 16, 24 or 32 inches high
  • Usually 4x8 or 6x8 dimensions

General Function Room Set-Up Notes

  • All schoolroom and banquet tables are 30" high
  • Rectangular tables that are 6 or 8 feet long by 30" wide are used for U-Shape, Conference, etc.
  • Rectangular tables that are 6 or 8 feet long by 18" wide are used for schoolroom set-ups

II. CONTRACTS AND REGISTRATION

  • Standard Comp. Room formula = 1 per 50
  • One (1) registration personnel per 100 attendees

III. EXHIBITS

Square Footage

  • Apply 2x rule to determine total sq. ft. needed (two times total square feet of exhibit space)
  • 10x10 = 100 sq. ft. per booth
  • 8x10 = 80 sq. ft. per booth
  • Net square feet (needed for booths) x 2 (for aisles) = total sq. ft. needed for booth and aisles + square footage for ancillary services = total square footage needed

Standard (In-Line) Booth

  • 10' deep by 10' long or 8' deep by 10' long
  • Faces one aisle
  • 8' 3" maximum back wall height

Perimeter (Wall) Booth

  • 10' deep by 10' long or 8' deep by 10' long
  • Faces one aisle
  • 12' maximum back wall height

Peninsula Booth

  • Minimum of two standard booths, usually 4 or more
  • Faces three aisles
  • Usually 16' maximum wall height but depends on show rules

Island Booth

  • Bordered on all four sides by aisles
  • Faces four aisles
  • Usually 16' maximum wall height but depends on show rules
  • Rule of Thumb:  20'x20' (40 sq. ft.)

Exhibit Lighting

  • 70-110 foot candles to light an exhibit hall

Floor Load

  • 300 pounds per sq. ft. on ground floors
  • 50 pounds per sq. ft. on upper floors

IV. BUDGETING

BEU = Break Even Units = Number of Attendees
BEP = Break Even Price = Cost Per Attendee
VC = Variable Costs
TFC = Total Fixed Costs
CF = Contribution Margin (Registration Fee-VC)

ROI = (Gross Revenue − Gross Expenses) ÷ Gross Expenses × 100

BEU = TFC ÷ CF

BEP = (TFC ÷ # of people) + VC Per Person

TFC = # Attendees × $ Per Attendee

** To make a dollar profit, add the desired profit dollar amount to the TFC in the above equation.
*** To make a percentage profit, add $ per attendee to VC and multiply by desired percentage profit

V.  AUDIO VISUAL

Formula One - First row of seats and last row of seats (2x8 rule)

  • No one should be seated closer than 2x screen height
  • No one should be seated farther than 8x screen height

Formula Two - Minimum Ceiling Height

  • Screen height + 4 or 5 feet (minimum distance floor to screen bottom)
  • Rule of Thumb:  5 feet

Formula Three - Screen Width

  • Overhead = 1:1 (8x8, 10x10)
  • Multi Image = 1:3 (6x18, 8x24, 10x30)
  • Slide = 2:3 (6x9, 8x12, 10x15)
  • Video = 3:4 (6x8, 9x12, 10.5x14)

VI.  Americans with Disabilities (ADA) Compliance

General

  • Hallways and Corridors = 36" clearance and occasional spaces for turning/passes

Hotel Rooms

  • At least 2% barrier free; at least 1% of these having roll-in showers
  • Doors and hallways inside rooms have 32" clear openings
  • 32" clearance on at least one side of the bed
  • Sink mounted at least 29" above floor with toe clearance under drainpipe
  • Toilets no higher than 29"

Meeting Rooms

  • Doors have at least 32" clearance

Entrances, Corridors, Stairs

  • Approaches to building entrances at least 5' wide
  • Single door entrances minimum of 32" wide.
  • Double door entrances minimum of 48" wide

Elevators

  • Doors have 32" wide clearance
  • Space no greater than 1.25" between the floor and platform

Restaurants and Lounges

  • Self-service counters no more than 34" high
  • Aisle for buffets 36" wide

Public Restrooms

  • Flush controls no more than 44" from floor

Parking

  • Designated parking space within 200' of building
  • One designated space per 25 total spaces

Ramps, Curbs and Walks

  • Slope of all ramps is 1" of rise to every 12" of run
  • Ramps have 5' wide level landing at top and bottom

ADA Budget

  • 5-7 percent of overall accommodations budget

VII.  FOOD AND BEVERAGE

Continental Breakfast

  • One attendant and separate buffet table per 100 attendees
  • Breakpoint for second buffet = 120 attendees
  • Usually run 30 minutes to one hour

Full Breakfast Buffet

  • Usually runs about one hour

Refreshment Breaks

  • 30 minutes = minimum amount of time
  • One attendant per 100 attendees
  • Morning = 65% Hot/35% Cold
  • Afternoon = 35% Hot/65% Cold
  • 50-75% regular soft drinks
  • 25% diet soft drinks
  • Coffee = 20 cups per gallon
  • Coffee = 60% regular/40% decaf

Luncheons

  • Typical time = 1 hour 15 minutes to serve
  • Schedule 90 minutes

Banquets

  • Two hours per dinner service
  • Three bottles of wine per table of 8 (2 white and 1 red)
  • 1/2 bottle per person + 10% buffer
  • Every 10 bottles white=two red (opposite for red meat)
  • Wine Stewards = 1 for every 5 tables
  • Servers = 1 per 20 people (optimal), 1 per 32 (standard), 1 per 16 for upscale or with wine service
  • Rule of Thumb:  1 per 20

Receptions

  • One attendant per 50 guests
  • One bartender per 100 people if arriving in intervals
  • One bartender per 50 people if arriving as a group
  • Immediately following meeting - food consumption is less
  • Less food/more drinks if reception is prior to dinner

Type of Reception

Type of Eaters

# Hors d'Oeuvres
per person

2 hours or less (dinner following)

Light

3-4 pieces

Moderate

5-7 pieces

Heavy

8+ pieces

2 hours or less (no dinner)

Light

6-8 pieces

Moderate

10-12 pieces

Heavy

12+ pieces

2-3 hours
(no dinner)

Light

8-10 pieces

Moderate

10-12 pieces

Heavy

16+ pieces

Beverages

  • 21-25 drinks per bottle of liquor
  • 32 ounces to a quart
  • 50/50 soft/hard liquor consumption
  • Wine consumption = 3 glasses during a 2 hour reception
  • Women consume more wine than liquor
  • Cash bar will consume less than host bar
  • Cash Bar - before lunch - 30% will have 1 drink
  • Cash Bar - after meeting - 50% will stay and have 1.5 drinks (1 hour reception)
  • Hosted Bar - Cocktail Hour - 80% will stay and have 2-2.5 drinks in 1 hour
  • Hosted Bar - Cocktail Hour - 80% will stay and have 3-3.5 drinks in 1 1/2 hours

Source: Pam Soules, CMP Director of Events, Mid-States Distributing

Tags:  association management  conferences  event management 

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