The personal touch

Creating the perfect event involves many stakeholders coming together to deliver what they set out to achieve, such as the venue, catering, entertainment and a tailored programme. However, some organisers go well above the call of duty and think about the personal experience a delegate has.

“Giving the personal touch, for us, means getting into the mind of the delegate and experiencing it from their perspective,” says Top Banana’s MD, Nick Terry. “By doing this in the past we have provided bespoke extras for delegates including personalised shirts with the delegates name; individual flip flops for a beach party; and silk tai-chi outfits for the following morning’s activities.”

Top Banana often use pre-gathered delegate information to provide its tailor-made touches. “We have produced inspiring quote books based on delegate quotes, each individually bound in personalised order,” says Terry. “But it’s not just the content of the event where we focus on the personal touch. We recognise it’s about the whole experience.

“We have created a prayer room within a factory environment to ensure delegates of multi-faiths were still able to follow their lifestyle choice. We have also produced multilingual menu cards for delegates while overseas to give to the local restaurants with a summary of their dietary requirements.”

Michelle Fanus, MD of Dynamyk Events, includes elements like providing flowers, fruit and other surprise gifts in their hotel room. “We leave local maps and tourist information in their room so they are instantly familiar with the location; and create personalised itineraries and event packs for intimate groups,” says Fanus. “We have organised informal meet and greet social events pre-conference and personalised welcome letters for each delegate upon check-in.”

IS Event Consulting’s Lexa Iantuono-Sullivan says sometimes it’s the little things that make an event memorable like arranging for to-go cups for coffee in addition to ceramic cups so those who are hurried at an event can grab it and go or arranging courtesy umbrellas when an unexpected storm hits if guests need to travel to a meeting outside the venue. She has also rearranged furniture in the lobby to encourage guests to sit and discuss business. “This works well if you have sales people wanting to talk to attendees,” she says.

“Placing a row of chairs in the back of a room for late-comers so disruption is minimal or even providing a vase of flowers for a meeting or lecture to cheer up a dark looking space, but setting them back a bit so no one sneezes, works well,” she adds.

Contendam’s Business Development Director, Caroline Mackenzie (pictured), says the agency recognises it is sometimes what appear to be the most simple extras that can have the greatest impact and none more so than the ‘human factor’.

“More often than not in our modern world the objective is to drive people to websites to book everything from travel to theatre tickets including conferences. It adds a high degree of convenience for many, but if you actually want to speak to someone you often have to search around in the small print to find a contact number,” she says.

“We believe delegates value human interaction and we ensure it is easy to reach a real, rather than automated, voice at the end of the phone. We provide a dedicated team to handle enquiries and the same staff will be at the registration desk when delegates arrive and through the duration of the event,” Mackenzie says. “Real camaraderie is developed, which is a great enhancement to the delegate experience.”

Something Accomplished Events did recently was to organise a photographer and videographer for a client’s teambuilding event which the client did not expect as this was not included in their budget, but was a thank you from them. “The event was a talent-style teambuilding event where each team learnt a new skill such as tribal drumming and ukele playing in a two-hour session,” says its Director, Jenny Pink. “These skills were performed back to the group in a TV talent show style format. Not only did our photos and videos wow the client but we also arranged for the bell ringers from Britain’s Got Talent to teach their skills to a group.”

Sarah Byrne, Director of Mosaic Events, says they try to add memorability by adding locally made food samples to delegate packs. “In Yorkshire we might go for some delicacies from Betty’s tearooms or some Yorkshire jam or chutney, or in the North West maybe Eccles cakes,” she says. “We have an event coming up in Düsseldorf in Germany and are thinking of perhaps some local mustard.”

Thinking about the delegate experience will ensure that not only does the client have a smile on their face but their delegates will too.

This was first published in the December issue of CN. Any comments? Email conferencenews@mashmedia.net

Paul Colston

Author

Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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