Beyond the “Hello, My Name Is…”

We recently blogged about effectively designing name badges.  When done right, name badges can be a great tool for your event.  When done incorrectly, they can be a distraction and something attendees purposefully “forget” to wear.  Name badges are often considered a necessary evil, but they don’t have to be!

Here are a few ways you can utilize name badges for more than their intended purpose.

  1. Meal Tickets.  If the event is being held in a location requiring meal tickets for entry into the dining facility, consider using name badges to serve that purpose.  Talk with the event host to see if this is a possibility.  This is best utilized if the entire group is on the same meal schedule; however, there are ways to differentiate between guests with varying meal plans.  Consider a different color lanyard or name badge background for each meal plan.
  2. VIPs.  Do you have particular guests that might need “special attention?”  Perhaps these people can charge items on the conference tab, such as at the location’s coffee shop or office center.  Certain guests might need easy access to backstage areas or the green room.  Attach a badge ribbon or sticker to the name badge of these people in order to differentiate them from other attendees.
  3. Small Groups.  Will guests break out into pre-arranged small groups during the event?  Note the group an attendee will be in on the corner of the name badge.  This will take a little extra preparation time, but it is an easy way to quickly divide into groups.  (How many times have you tried to number off a group only to find half of the people forget their number by the end of the line?  This is a helpful way to solve that dilemma!)

Name badges serve a primary purpose:  they tell us your name.  With a little creativity, however, you can make use of these conference staples for additional purposes.  Keep these two things in mind if you want to go “beyond the name badge.”  First, too much information can distract from the name.  Choose one or two extras to add, if needed.  Second, and most importantly, the key in successful extra uses of a name badge is communication between your leadership and your event host location.  For example, don’t assume you can use name badges as meal tickets without talking with the host location.  (And, if you are the host location, make sure you communicate with the dining facility if the typical meal ticket required is done differently.)

Have you used name badges for something extra in an event?  If so, share those ideas with us in the comments section.

“Sound Good?” Be Ready To Work With Your Sound Engineer

So much goes into planning an event.  Organizers check in with the caterer, speaker, musicians and a host of others, planning carefully so that everything is choreographed perfectly to accomplish the event goals.

But there is one crucial person often neglected in pre-event planning —  the venue sound engineer.  This person will be configuring the room, running wires, setting up microphones and planning media integration for your event and he (or she) needs to know exactly what you have in mind before you arrive on-site. Lead time gives your sound engineer room to find or reserve special equipment or personnel you might need, the ability to think through possible conflicts or problems, and the opportunity to make suggestions for improvements. Without the appropriate planning and set-up, the group portions of your event could suffer.  Communicating early and clearly with your sound engineer and his team are key to insuring that your ideas will run smoothly on stage. At least a month before your event:

  1. Contact the sound engineer of the venue where you will be holding your event.  Introduce yourself and set up a time to discuss your needs.  If he can’t commit to a phone meeting (often difficult due to the nature of their job) agree to communicate over email.
  2. Think through what you want to see happen on stage during each group session.  Will there be a speaker, a band, a video, a panel of experts?  Consider each of the elements for each session and jot them down.  Talk through these elements with your sound engineer, and ask for questions or input.
  3. If sticking to a strict schedule is important to you, consult your sound engineer on how much time you should add in for moving microphones, changing sets and moving people on and off stage.  An event can easily stretch ten or fifteen minutes longer than you anticipated if you don’t build in time for these necessities.
  4. Be patient and flexible.  You may have been planning this event for a year, but your sound engineer has just a few weeks to learn, design, set-up and run your group sessions.  Given enough forewarning, there’s a good chance he can structure things to your guidelines. But, if you hit a snag during planning ask him for suggestions on a solution.  You are the expert on your event, but he is expert on what will work in the venue. He doesn’t want to see you fail, so enlist his opinion.

Including the venue sound engineer in your pre-event planning ensures less surprises, last minute panic attacks, and reduces the use of the phrase “I don’t think that’s going to work”.  You’ve worked hard to plan a first-class function, and now you’ve taken one more step to ensure your message will be communicated clearly.

Don’t “Take It to the Limit”, Maintain Margin!

Like the margins in a book provide space between the words and the page limits, maintaining margin as you plan and execute an event will provide a buffer to absorb challenges and issues prior to reaching the limits of your event and you!  Consider the following areas in which having margin can make a tremendous difference in the success of your event:

  • Time (Attendees’): Before finalizing the schedule for your event (onsite registration, large sessions, breakout meetings, meal-times, breaks, etc.), review it to ensure your schedule includes some margin.  What if a speaker runs over his allotted time?  What if a catered meal takes longer than expected?  What if there are audiovisual difficulties?  You want to offer your attendees the best experience possible, but keep in mind this includes providing opportunities to network with other attendees, take breaks to refresh their minds and reflect on what they’ve experienced, and not feel rushed throughout the event.
  • Time (Yours): What about your schedule during the event?  Even when things run smoothly it’s likely you’ll be quite busy during the event as you meet with attendees, communicate with the host staff, take care of your speakers, and handle the myriad of scenarios which come along with serving as an event planner.  Consider holding blocks of time on your schedule when you schedule nothing.  Doing so will provide sufficient time to take care of unexpected issues that arise as well as allowing you valuable moments to re-charge your batteries so you can lead your event more effectively.
  • Emotional: Prior to traveling to Africa to pick up the two children we adopted in 2010, my wife and I spent almost two months in a hospital several states away from our home as one of our other children dealt with some health issues.  Suffice to say, by the time we left for Africa we were spent, both emotionally and physically.  While not always possible, taking time to get away and recharge before an event occurs can help an event planner tremendously.
  • Physical: Rest well and eat well, both before and during the event.  Any event planner knows this isn’t always easy, but doing so will provide you with the physical margin you need to be at your best.
  • Financial: Margin is one financial measure of an event’s success.  In simple terms, it’s found by dividing an event’s profit by its revenue.   For example, an event with $10,000 in revenue and $3,500 in profit has a margin of 35%.  Careful budget planning can help ensure you’ll have the funds needed to cover planned expenses as well as those that pop up unexpectedly.  Planning your cash flow will help ensure you have the funds when you need them.
  • Spiritual: As in so many other ways, Jesus Himself served as a model for us in the area of margin by living in such a way that He always had time for what mattered most, the divine appointments with people that came His way each day.  Unfortunately, these unexpected meetings can often seem more like annoyances to a meeting planner low on margin.

If the idea of having margin appeals to you, consider the following resources which have been a great benefit to me in this area:

  • Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives by Richard A. Swenson, M.D.: This book is one of the most helpful I’ve ever read (on any topic).
  • Take It to the Limit by Andy Stanley: This six-part sermon series can be found online by searching for North Point Community Church.

Both of these resources will challenge you to live with margin and provide practical ways to help you do so.  Both you and those attending your event will benefit!

Christian Meeting Planning Resources – August Update

Here is what we’ve added in August by category

Marketing/Promotion

Don’t ever blend in…especially when marketing and selling! http://www.ready2spark.com/2012/02/brand-differentiation.html

How to really, really build your brand http://www.ready2spark.com/2012/02/how-to-build-a-manifesto.html

Don’t make these social media mistakes! http://www.eventmanagerblog.com/tips/event-mistakes

5 more tips on how to plan and market your event (or party) http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/5-tips-for-small-business-event-planning.htm

Who doesn’t want their event to go viral? http://www.eventmanagerblog.com/concepts/10-elements-events-viral

Site Selection

A dozen fun retreat (and camping) ideas for the whole family http://bradzockoll.tripod.com/youthworker/id7.html

Retreats/Meetings

Awesome season based event ideas for any retreat, meeting, event, or the like! http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/5-fun-seasonal-event-ideas.htm

What are 4 different types of retreats? http://www.sugarhollowretreat.com/4-examples-spiritual-retreats

Budget/Cost Savings

How to save some retreat planning money in 8 simple steps http://www.articlesbase.com/christianity-articles/christian-retreat-planning-on-a-budget-1982758.html

Read these 49 tips to save money before planning your next meeting or conference http://meetingsnet.com/costsaving_budget/save-money-planning-meetings-0621/

How to hire and train conference and retreat volunteers. http://www.samhsa.gov/fbci/Volunteer_handbook.pdf

Meeting Planners

What planners can learn from the 2012 olympics http://www.busyevent.com/blog/?p=656

In depth and extremely helpful look on how to plan a retreat. http://bible.org/article/retreats-first-things-first

15 exceptionally useful websites to help plan an event. http://www.eventeducation.com/top-event-planning-tools.php

 

I hope you find these helpful and remember we have many more than might interest you  in the Meeting Planner Resources section of the blog.

 

Resources – July Update

Here is what we’ve added in July by category

Marketing/Promotion

Twitter Hashtag Pages – The most crucial social media tool on-site at conferences is the Twitter hashtag…

Site Selection

The Green Meetings Evolution – The meeting and convention industry has made some eco-friendly strides in recent…

Visual Worship – What we see in the world around us deepens our knowledge and understanding of a Holy God and causes us to…

Retreats/Meetings

Choosing The Best Speaker – Hiring speakers is tricky business. Will they engage audience members or have them struggling to keep…

Creative Menu Planning on a Budget– Knowing peoples’ eating habits can help you save a bunch at your next event…

Meeting Planners

Meetings Industry Is Moving Forward Slowly – The average U.S. meeting attendee, over the course of a three-day event, uses more than 2,000…

5 New Networking Opportunities at RCMA – Religious Conference Manager Association’s 2013 Annual Meeting offers…

I hope you find these helpful and remember we have many more than might interest you  in the Meeting Planner Resources section of the blog.

:

 

Resources – June Update

Here at Ministry Serving Ministry, we are constantly on the lookout for content we believe may be helpful to our readers.  Here is what we’ve added in June by category to our resources.

Marketing/Promotion

Understanding Generational Differences – The Key to Attracting, Motivating and Retaining Your Workforce…

Planning a Women’s Retreat and Can’t Think of a Theme? –  There are dozens and dozens to choose from right here…

Site Selection

Safety First – Safety and security planning has long been a hot topic in the meetings and convention industry…

Retreats/Meetings

The Great Shift – Meetings, no matter at what level, have a major influence on government, business and organizations…

Teambuilding:  Its Important Role in Stressful Times – When I mention I’m passionate about teambuilding the eyes roll, or look away…

Meeting Planners

Principles of Professionalism – meetings management and meeting professionals under a microscope…

I hope you find these helpful and remember we have many more than might interest you  in the Meeting Planner Resources section of the blog.

The 4 Rs of Meetings

In the meeting planning industry there are four Rs that apply to every aspect of your events from the pre-planning to the final outcomes.

  1. Relationships – Act on the relationships that are a part of your network.
  2. Relevancy –  Reassess the resources, energy and attention spent on the experience to measure their relevancy.
  3. Reflection – Take the time to engage in personal and organizational reflection.
  4. Readjustment – Ask yourself these questions to increase effectiveness:   1.  What have I learned about myself that I would be wise to carry forward?  2.  What have we learned about our work together that we would be wise to carry forward?

I believe these four principles are vital in our meeting planning efforts.

 

7 Post Event Tips

I read a great article by Ashely Muntan, in the Rejuvenate Magazine this week titled “The Post-Event Syndrome”, you can read the full article here.  I have just finished several events at Ridgecrest Conference Center so I found the following items particularly helpful in getting back to the office and getting back to business as usual.  I hope you will find these helpful as you are getting back from your events too.

1. Anticipate re-entry. A roller coaster feeling is inevitable in the event industry and post-program blues can be avoided with proactive disciplines. Mentally prepare yourself for your return, prioritize your to-do list and do not force yourself to tackle all of it in one day. Pace yourself back into a normal routine.

2. Look to your friends and family to facilitate the transition back to daily life. Often family and friends are neglected when planner schedules get busy, and it is important to devote some time to them upon a large event’s completion.

3. Don’t forget: It’s OK to feel excited and pleased with an event’s success. Take the time to reward yourself for a job well done. You have worked long hours pre-event and on-site, and it’s important to give yourself some attention to stay healthy.  Indulge in a relaxing activity, whether that’s an afternoon at the spa or movie theater or going on a long bike ride.

4. Manage the re-entry. Pre-blocking your schedule prior to your departure and managing your time post-event will allow you to find balance and tackle the to-do list at a normal pace.

5. Look forward to going through re-entry again. Managing re-entry and accepting that it’s not easy to get back into a more normal, slower routine can be difficult, but with the right self-discipline, it can be done. Think of re-entry as a reward, not a burden, for your hard work and great event success.

6.  Clean out your email inbox.  Chances are you let emails pile up in the weeks leading up to the event, only responding to the most crucial and time-sensitive messages.

7.  Send thank-you notes.  Since we don’t do it alone, hand-written notes to everyone on your team are necessary and greatly appreciated.

What other tips do you have for getting back into the swing of things?

What's New In Hotel Trends?

As with most industries today, the hotel industry is undergoing constant change. These changes are driven primarily by two factors, an ever increasing need to lower costs/increase effeciency and evolving guest preferences. As a result of these factors, here are 5 new hotel trends I see emerging over the next couple of years:

  • Bathroom – More and more hotels are doing away with tubs and instead creating walk-in showers. An aging population, combined with the fact fewer and fewer people actually use the tub to take a bath, are driving this trend.
  • Workspace – The key here is creating more flexibility. As tablets and smartphones are becoming more the norm, hotels are utilizing smaller desks. Some, such as Hampton Inn, are even placing trays in the room. This allows the guest to choose where and how they want to work in their room.
  • Bedding – Let’s face it, the primary reason people rent a hotel room is to have a place to sleep. It only makes sense for hotels to try and make a great impression with the bedding in their rooms. Now that all the major chains have raised the bar with the quality of their beds and pillows, their next focus is on the bedding itself. The new trend is to go with all white as a symbol of clean. They’re also looking for new fabrics that are more hygenic and stain-repellant.
  • Lighting – Again, with an aging population, there is a trend emerging of more and better lighting access. This makes it easier for older guests to read. I recently stayed in a Marriott where there was a small reading light installed on the headboard, opposite the traditional lights between the beds. Very convenient!
  • Electrical outlets – Gone are the days when you had to move the bed or nightstand in order to charge your cell phone. Hotels are recognizing the typical guest may have 2 or more devices that need to be charged overnight. This has created a need for easier access to more electrical outlets.

Have you noticed any of these trends in your recent travels? What other new hotel trends you’re seeing?