Faith. When you read that word does your mind jump to religion? Mine does.
Our American experience tells us that “faith-based” refers to an organization that promotes a specific religious belief.
Yet, there is another type of faith we need for conference success.
Faith In Your Conference
Your success as a conference organizer is entirely dependent upon your attendees’ faith in your conference.
Faith is defined as complete trust or confidence in someone or something. It is often a strong belief in something without empirical evidence.
Our attendees pay $1,000-$2,500 in registration fees, airfare, lodging and expenses all with the belief that our conference can radically change their lives, habits and assumptions. They have a strong conviction that they will receive what they need at our conference in exchange for their money, time and resources.
But what happens to our attendees’ faith in our conference when they don’t get their needs met? What happens when the conference experience does not provide proof that it changed attitudes, behavior and skills?
Attendees stop coming and attendance plateaus or declines.
Searching For Great Takeaways
Attendees are looking for that next great idea from your conference that they can apply immediately.
Great ideas are magnetic. We are willing to exchange our hopes of receiving one or two great ideas at a conference for our time and money. And we are completely satisfied with just receiving one or two great ideas.
While great ideas are alluring, great businesses that produce great conferences are self-sustaining. Great conference organizers charge real attendees real money for an unparalleled real conference experience with real value that provides real practical takeaways.
While the action of exchanging money for conference attendance is transactional, we are looking for transformational takeaways.
Changing The Calcified Conference Experience
So many of our conferences provide nothing more than fossilized, mummified, conference experiences steeped in outdated tradition.
How do conference organizers make meaningful changes to this conference experience that should result in attendee transformation?
Sometimes you have to make small inroads changing 10%-25% of the experience. Sometimes you crowdsource ideas from attendees. Sometimes you start with the end in mind and recreate the entire conference experience with a focus on the attendees’ goals, behaviors and attitudes that you want to create.
One sure way to start the change process is to seek ideas from outside of the conference and meetings industry. Too often we turn to our own echo chamber for new ideas and solutions. Sometimes it’s best to source cutting-edge ideas from those outside of the hospitality industry.
Dream And Dream Big
One thing you need for future conference success is a new dream. Without dreams, we’ll never find our way to what is truly possible. Create a new dream for a new conference experience and then create a path out of the calcified outdated experience.
As editor Robert Saflan says, “Dreaming Big isn’t folly; It’s required!”
Hat tips to Fast Company’s March 2014 Twelve Innovation Lessons for 2014.
What is required to create a conference attendee transformative experience? What can conference organizers do to guarantee that they create experiences with relevant takeaways?