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We have come a long way from the white-collared, coffee-and-tea break conferences of the 1990s. These days, conferences are so much more than one person addressing attendees in hotel banqueting rooms.
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Corporates have been raising the bar, especially over the last three years, providing attendees with experiences that encourage engagement and the overall well-being of everyone present. We spoke to Buyi Thusi, Conference Manager at BON Hotel Empangeni, who coordinates countless corporate and government conferences every year. They share the top trends to look for in the conferencing world in 2020.
“One of the fastest growing trends we’ve noticed over the last year is the importance of more connection among attendees, “ says Buyi. Corporates are now mindful that larger events may leave little room for people to want to connect with one another, where smaller, more intimate events allow for better engagement. They also note that conferences have become increasingly shorter. People just don’t have the time to sit in three- or four-day long conferences anymore. Events have now become more structured, focusing on the important messages that need to be relayed to attendees. With less time, speakers communicate only the important information, and time is valued more by attendees which more often than not, results in increased networking in the space.
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Increased event technology
Consistently upgrading your tech offering will show that you give consideration to the conference attendees you host. Buyi confirms that most organisers now expect attendees to have quality internet connection throughout their events. A big part of attendee engagement may rely on them having access to information stored online, thus it’s important that your wi-fi accessibility is always kept in check. Internet aside, simple considerations include making sufficient charging ports for laptops, phones and tablets easily accessible to attendees. Most of us no longer rely on pen and paper for notes – it might be much easier to whip open our Notes apps, which more often than not are already saved and synced to our clouds, so we never lose what we have recorded.
The most interesting of all, notes Buyi, is the insistence of wellness activities for conference attendees. Corporates and event organisers are realising that for their events to be successful, they need to ensure that their attendees are focused and tuned in throughout. The best way to do this is to incorporate brief, but meaningful, breaks throughout. Along with breaks, changing the environment helps to keep everyone interested.
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Many events now include stretching sessions outside for fresh air, muffins and sandwiches being replaced by smoothie bars and frequent venue switch ups. All of these keep people alert and interested in the messages shared with them. Sitting still for hours on end becomes rather mundane, and changing up your venues or presentation styles makes all the difference.
Hello Joburg was first published in April 1980 as a monthly restaurant and entertainment magazine. Over the years we have developed a network of patriotic Joburgers that love nothing more than sharing their experiences in this beautiful city!