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Happy people jumping with their arms up

Happy people jumping with their arms up

6 Ideas for Interesting Extras that Appeal

Today's guest post is by speaker, author, and one of my favorite Aussies Neen James.

As a business motivational keynote speaker, I have the privilege of speaking at some of the coolest events around the globe. These conferences can be a large association or industry events, or small intimate corporate events, and I am so impressed at some of the lengths I have seen meeting planners take to cater to their attendees.

Here are a few ideas based on great experiences I have witnessed while traveling:

1. Satisfy the senses: Fresh flowers and candles appeal to the olfactory learner (those who remember through smell, but be sure to also provide scent-free zones for the allergic); flowers and colored linens appeal to the visual guests; linens and touchable fixtures appeal to the kinesthetic (those who are tactile and enjoy a sense of touch).

2. Create social food: An effective way to serve carbs that many people can’t resist is a mashed potato bar that serves up the dish, complete with toppings, in martini glasses. I have seen this embraced at several events; it’s substantial and social as people customize their meal. Smaller desserts and tapas-style plates also are popular. Avoid heavy, messy foods that could spill easily and ruin clothing.

3. Photo booths for community building: Provide accessories and props participants can use to create photos to commemorate an occasion, celebrate the event, or promote a sponsor—and have fun. With the option of multiple printed copies, this is a fun, interactive activity to offer during events. Encourage attendees to share on Instagram and use your event hashtag and/or Twitter handle.

4. Little details, big impact: At a women’s leadership conference by Office Depot I attended, the meeting planner handed us a $1 bill as we stepped out of the taxi to give to our bellman. They had thought of every little detail!

And for the ladies—
Are there some simple enhancements, some tiny investments of time and creativity that you could take that would make your female attendees feel extra special? They win because they feel catered to, and you win because they likely would share their experience with their clients and their community through social media. Here are a few I’ve experienced:

5. Ladies room luxuries: The ladies room is an unofficial networking space where women discuss food, speakers, and current affairs while refreshing themselves between sessions. To make your event even more memorable—though only if no one in your group has indicated they have scent allergies or sensitivities—consider offering products like hand cream, hair spray, and fragrance, and consider adding fresh flowers.

One conference was so clever—it posted inspirational phrases on mirrors that included “You look gorgeous today.” My barre3 studio in Doylestown, Pa., also includes makeup remover and deodorant, which are small details that make a big impact. One women’s-only conference I spoke at had converted the mens rooms into ladies rooms with many luxuries, including floating rose petals in the urinals. It made me giggle, and made for fun conversation at the event.

6. Provide women-only options at your host hotel: The Wyndham chain of hotels multiplied its ratio of female business travelers by introducing more female-friendly services. Instead of having to deal with the occasional awkward situation in hotel bars, women can take their after-work cocktail or coffee in the hotel library, where they can also find interesting books and magazines. Some hotels stock extra pantyhose, lip-gloss, and other essentials.

What have you seen or provided at a meeting that you found especially appealing?

Neen James, MBA, CSP, a high-energy Aussie with a lot of sass, is an attention expert, keynote speaker, and lover of fabulous shoes who delivers engaging programs designed to educate and entertain audiences with real-world strategies that apply at work and home. The author of Folding Time and her latest book, Attention, she believes leaders profit by paying attention. Find out more at www.neenjames.com.

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