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Linking Your Meetings to Your Members

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If you’ve been around long enough, you probably remember when trade shows, conventions and meetings had the ho-hum appeal of a college lecture. You pick your session, find the correct location, then sit, listen and learn.

But several years ago, a shift began. Make no mistake, conventions have never been void of showmanship, but as technology became cheaper and more accessible, the ability to provide “wow” factors increased dramatically.

Suddenly, meetings were hell-bent on putting the “show” in trade show, led by technology conferences that were quick to use and promote the bleeding edge of social and visual technologies.
Cool? Yes. Engaging? Definitely. But resulting in a better transfer of information and knowledge? Debatable.

Jeff Hurt takes up the issue in a recent blog post in which he explores the idea that our conferences have become more concerned with engaging than transforming. He doesn’t argue against an engaging customer experience, mind you, but puts forth a notion that our infatuation with eye candy has created a thirst for satisfying a part of the brain – the limbic system – that supports emotion, as opposed to events that leave an impression on the pre-frontal cortex, which manages reason, logic, problem solving and planning.

“These unique novel conference moments of wow are creating customers that are addicted to these fleeting moments of dopamine-induced-pleasure,” Hurt states.

Again, the argument here isn’t to revert to sleep-inducing lectures in front of a chalkboard, but merely that maybe we’re suffering a bit from shiny object syndrome when it comes to technology at our events.
Are we too concerned with making sure we appeal to millennials that we focus on the package and not the product inside? Are we putting too many resources into setting up virtual reality stations or putting together a savvy app for attendees to interact with?

“It tends to be a tricky balancing act to perform,” Natalia Singh, senior manager of Live Learning Center operations at MultiView, said. “Understanding the challenges associations face usually revolves around attempting to please all generational needs simultaneously. They are constantly struggling between assisting those that are ‘immigrants to technology’ vs. the millennials who expect all data electronically and instantaneously. So it gets quite difficult to adjust their infrastructure/processes and keep everyone aware and happy.”

Technology can be of extreme importance to an event, in that it can make it accessible and efficient. But let’s not allow ourselves to move away from the original and core concept of these events – to solve problems and move industries forward through new and innovative thinking; to transfer knowledge that is lasting and inspiring.

Or, as Hurt further puts it, “Seek to integrate conference novelty that actually hooks to an overarching issue’s solutions” and “use restraint incorporating temporary fluff moments.”

“One-touch solutions to address all generational needs, although ideal, simply will never exist when we always have an aging population and varying needs that are rapidly changing,” Singh added. “Instead, we should be more mindful of all generational needs to find practical solutions for all majorities, if associations wish to increase sustainable membership numbers and revenue long term.”

Looking for ways to improve the impact of your meetings and conferences, while also adding non-dues revenue? Greatly enhance the reach and effectiveness of your educational sessions with the ultimate suite of content capture solutions from MultiView.

“Once your content is presented, it’s gone for good, unless you’re capturing that content,” said Gunter Gudlat, partnerships at MultiView. “Our content capture options give members access to the content you’re providing at your meetings to basically advertise the type of education that takes place at the events, so they get their butts into your seats for your next event.”




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