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5 Steps to Planning an Engaging Multiday Event

Your must-do list for planning an engaging and memorable multiday event.

Whether you are thinking about expanding a one-day event or looking to revamp your existing multiday conference,  consider these techniques to make it stand out.

Step 1: Clarify the Goal

Start by asking yourself why it needs to be multiple days. We’ve all been to “that conference” where the first day or two had great content and then it trickled off into coffee breaks and wandering the exhibit floor on day three while wondering, “Why didn’t I leave last night?” The last thing you want is them remembering how much time was wasted away from work, family and other obligations. There is nothing worse for your event than losing engagement.

Step 2: Create Exemplary Content

If you decide multiday is the way to go, the next step is creating top-of-the-line content that will keep attendees engaged energized and attentive to your message. Be sure to source notable keynote speakers and host breakout sessions to get people talking. It’s a good idea to create multiple ancillary experiential programs with personal development benefits like leadership training, negotiation practice, networking advice and advancement for attendees of all levels and tracks.

Step 3: Start at Registration

Instead of your standard registration setup, set the tone with attendees by hosting a combination of both registration and reception. Set up F&B amenities near the registration area so attendees can get all their questions answered, pins, convention T-shirts and greet old and new friends all in the same space with a more energized atmosphere. This combined area can also be sponsored, providing an additional revenue stream for you and exposure opportunity for a partner. 

Step 4: Foster Sponsor-Attendee Conversations

No one wants to be sold to all day long, but we also all know that sponsors are a necessary part of any multiday event. To get the conversation going in a new way, try utilizing a color-coding system that cuts through the noise where attendees are organized via a preconvention survey depending on your organization’s criteria and their needs. For example, an attendee selects that their chapter needs help with membership organization tools, recruitment/retention and communication. Their badge is then color-coded a specific color, say, green. Vendors that provide membership services or products are also color coded green, and the parties then understand that there is an inherent match. 

Step 5: Eliminate the Exhibit Hall

Yes, I said it. Do away with the exhibit hall that has people manning tables and booths and opt for experiential ways of getting sponsors and attendees engaging.

One way to do this is by setting up sponsored innovation labs where attendees can bring their most pressing workplace challenge to an expert panel of exhibitors, industry leaders, sponsors and peers who will offer potential solutions.

The reverse trade show is another option that’s picking up in popularity. In this situation, each attendee is seated at their own table and traditional exhibitors or sponsors come to meet with them for short periods according to personalized schedules. By allowing them to set their schedules in advance, both parties are more engaged in the conversation and have control over their time.

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