The Art of Selecting Meeting Day Patterns
Do some meetings get more attendance than others at your conferences? While topics and presenters can attribute directly to the popularity of your meetings, scheduling can also be a huge influencer. There is no secret to selecting the perfect meeting day patterns for your events. But, there are a few things to consider before finalizing your agendas.
The number one thing to consider when selecting meeting day patterns is travel. If the majority of your guests travel to your meetings, be sure to take travel days and hotel check-in times into account. Do your participants prefer to travel on weekends in order to minimize time away from their jobs? Would they rather travel during the week to minimize time away from families instead? What about the host hotel? Is check-in time not until 3:00 pm? If so, starting your event with a Welcome Reception at 5:00 p.m. on Day One would encourage people to arrive that afternoon to be present for the Opening Keynote the morning of Day Two.
Many events see low attendance on the front end and back end due to travel constraints. The more accommodating you can be with the meeting schedule, the better. Holding a Closing Session as an evening event, will allow your attendees to travel the next morning – potentially, only losing a half-day of work that day.
Early Risers vs. Night Owls
Knowing your audience is key to setting your meeting schedule. Do they prefer to start their days with an early breakfast, or do they prefer a mid-morning start? Do they like to wrap their days up before dinner, or do they prefer to stay out late? These are all things to consider when selecting your meeting day patterns. If you are new to meeting planning and lack the analytics and feedback needed to truly know your audience, conducting a pre-event survey is the best way to get the information you need. Survey Monkey offers a free online surveying tool, and if your audience is small enough, Doodle is a great tool for setting a schedule that works best for most of your attendees.
When selecting the number of meetings for your event, choose quality over quantity. When your attendees are over saturated with meeting after meeting in one day, the later meetings’ attendance will suffer. Information overload is a real thing that meeting planners should be cognizant of when selecting meeting day patterns.
Additionally, concurrent meetings should not compete against each other. Instead, they should attract different audiences to maximize attendance in each. You should also consider things like: session breaks to allow foot traffic in an exhibit hall; and “mental breaks” between sessions to allow attendees to take care of personal issues without taking time away from meeting attendance.
The best solution for selecting the perfect pattern for your meeting is to track analytics. Survey and take attendance at every meeting and keep track of which days of the week and times of the day had the highest participation. Tracking this information over time will help you to understand your audience’s behaviors and to plan your meetings in a complimentary fashion.