Your association’s annual conference is likely one of the most anticipated events of the year for your members. The opportunities for networking and learning at these events seem endless… If you can keep your attendees engaged with fun, unique activities.
There are an abundance of reasons why you should make things enjoyable for your attendees. At the very bottom line, you owe it to your members to make their conference experience worth the registration fees. You want your members to feel like the money they are spending to be a part of your association is worth every penny – especially if you want them to renew their memberships next year.
Besides giving your members their money’s worth, you should also consider adding more fun conference activities into your event schedule to break up the more serious meetings, education presentations and certification courses. If your conference contains the same less-than-fun activities year after year, you will experience more attendee attrition as time goes on. This means you will have to work even harder to fill your attendee quota with new people. You also want a healthy mix of veteran and new attendees at your event because the chance to network face-to-face with seasoned professionals is one huge reason that newbies decide to attend conferences, and vice versa.
So, without further ado, here are the top five fun conference activities that are sure to make your next event more fun and keep attendees coming back year after year:
Early-morning exercise classes or stress-relief gatherings
Giving your attendees the opportunity to start their days with a little “me time” will put them in the right head space for the rest of the conference. This early-morning activity could be a Yoga, Pilates or Zumba class exclusively for conference attendees. It could also be a stress-relieving event such as guided meditation, playtime with puppies, or even coloring by the pool (yes, adults like to color too). Whichever you choose to implement, having an early morning activity like one of these puts your attendees in a positive mood going into the first day of the conference, even if it has nothing to do with your event’s theme.
Having a giant chalkboard message center is a fun way to increase interactions and networking between your attendees. It can be used to write positive, inspirational messages, or it can be used as a way for guests to write and respond to each other about various things. The chalkboard wall can stay up for the entirety of the event and attendees can stop by at their leisure.
Events unique to the conference’s city
Chances are, the majority of your attendees will have traveled some distance from home to attend your event. Why not let them explore some of the city you’re hosting it in? One way you can do this is by joining with a local travel agency to host activities like a bike tour of the city or a visit to a popular art museum. BONUS: Give back to your conference’s host city by organizing a charitable activity like having attendees pack backpacks with donated school supplies for students or making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a local food pantry. Charity-related activities like these will give your guests a chance to see more of the city while also giving back to the community.
Hosting a late-night party is a great way for your guests to unwind and have a little fun while also getting to know each other better. Depending on what your association is celebrating, you can brainstorm a theme that coincides with the party. For example, if you’re association is celebrating its 70th anniversary, the party could be disco themed. Disco = 70s! Your decorations, music and photo booth can all contribute to this theme. Encourage your guests to dress to the theme to make it even more interactive.
If your association has a large enough budget, consider booking a musical headliner for your conference. ASAE featured Brad Paisley and John Legend at their annual conference last year. Other associations have hosted artists like Pitbull and Capital Cities at their events. If this caliber of activity is an affordable option for your association, it may even attract more attendees. And no one will choose to forego the evening activity that night!
Whether you implement one or all of these suggestions, you and your attendees are sure to have more fun with the new addition at your next event. When your attendees are having fun, they feel like they’re getting the most out of their membership dues. And when your members feel like they’re getting more value out of their dues, they’re more likely to renew next year. These fun conference activities will be enjoyable AND favorable for your association.