If your event is a full day event or longer, you will want to consider providing meals. If your event participants are forced offsite to fend for themselves, many will be late getting back and you lose an important opportunity to have them network with one another under your brand. Sharing a meal is a symbol of tribal community that reaches all the way back to the days when a fire was news and caves were homey.
Recommendation: Offer a buffet that allows participants to design their own meal. Keep in mind diabetic and vegetarian concerns when selecting your menu. The alternative to the buffet is to offer individual meals, but you will want to capture meal preferences during the registration process to ensure your attendees’ dietary needs are considered. Go the extra mile and make your menu friendly to gluten and dairy sensitivities.
Make snacks, tea, coffee, and water available in the afternoon to help keep participants alert after that wonderful lunch you just fed them.
Networking and Focus Groups
If possible, build opportunities for networking into your event. This strengthens the experience for attendees and challenges them to meet new people. Activities that involve group discussion can generate new ideas and promote sharing between peers. Focus groups challenged with the task of solving the world’s woes will often get the creative juices flowing and learn a lot about each other in the meantime.
Receptions offer a place for people to go in the evening after the day’s events. It continues the bonding process and facilitates networking between industry peers. Note the reception area and time with clear, visible signage so people are reminded of the reception throughout the day.
Tip: Offering a cash bar and appetizers are encouraged, but only after your event has wrapped up for the day. If you’re holding an evening event with a reception beforehand, you may lose some participants!