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When it comes to events, meetings and conferences, delegates are looking for a lot more than what happens on the tradeshow floor or during a keynote. The standard convention layout is changing – events today rely on a venue that offers flexibility with the opportunity to build experiences that extend beyond the event itself.
With a state-of-the art convention centre under construction, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada is learning exactly what it means to be in the centre of it all and where it all comes together – the community, connections, and collaboration. The new Halifax Convention Centre joins culture with design in a way that makes experiencing the destination truly effortless.
Here’s how to offer your guests something far beyond a typical conference experience, given today’s evolving event industry.
Flexible Event Space
A versatile and technologically advanced event space gives planners the ability to design a conference that meets the demands of their delegates. While privacy and optimal flow are important, a facility that is both spacious and flexible means that it can easily be customized for each event.
Attendees are looking for more convenient pre-event space where they can comfortably network, check emails or social media and take a pause from the hustle and bustle of the tradeshow floor. Having a space for a coffee break is no longer enough, attendees want to be able to take a breather at any time throughout the day.
Using signature lobby areas as a convenient registration or pre-function space, delegate meeting point, or internet cafe not only gives you more room to play with, it gives your delegates the intimate social space they expect.
Providing set service offerings is no longer enough as the trend toward non-traditional meetings is on the rise. Venues will need to work closely with planners to understand their vision and co-design custom solutions and services that help realize their goals.
Connectivity with the Destination
Don’t forget to provide your delegates with a conference experience that extends beyond the venue! There will always be the expectation that the host destination has something special or unique to offer attendees.
Visitors want the chance to immerse themselves in professional development during the day and personal enjoyment after hours. What can your chosen event venue offer event attendees once they’ve finished from the tradeshow floor? Think about local culture, music, art, food, drink, and activities.
Providing delegates with ample pre and post-convention activities can move the event experience from satisfactory to exceptionally memorable. Aspects of the location, such as the local hospitality, amenities and social/cultural spaces that surround an event, can leave a lasting impact with your delegates. From activities downtown, to off-site trips, attendees want to experience and connect with the host destination.
The culinary experience fits into this area, as local flavour becomes a part of the complete event package. Incorporating unique food and beverage offerings into the event experience gives delegates a true taste of the region’s culture and hospitality, and can leave them with lasting memories of the conference. To make sure you keep your delegates satisfied, consider their diverse culinary wants, needs and desires. Try to expose guests to local traditions and varied cultural offerings. There is a sense of pride in local food, and giving guests a taste of this helps to deliver a brilliant event experience.
A Memorable Event Experience
Ultimately, a memorable event experience is where it all comes together. A venue that’s not only within walking distance of the best restaurants, entertainment and shopping, but also well connected to the region’s best in innovation and research can help take a conference to a whole other level. Delegates want to experience first-hand the potential of the region’s growth sectors.
Integrating off-site tours of research facilities and other institutions of interest into the event agenda becomes a strong incentive for delegates to attend. Effortless connections are what keep the conversation going, and help make way for new business ventures and collaborations between thought leaders from around the world, including local experts of the host destination.
A host destination that demonstrates collaboration between academic, business and research communities is a strong incentive for delegates, whose primary reason for attending a conference is to acquire knowledge, cultivate their work and grow their networks with like-minded individuals and businesses.
As the conference experience evolves, the tradeshow floor will become an extension of the destination. To serve up the ultimate conference experience, set the tone of your event in the early stages of planning.
Identifying a flexible venue that is well connected within the region’s core for both business and entertainment is a crucial first step. From there, begin to imagine what is in store for your delegates, and shape out an event that meets their growing needs.
Opening in 2017, the Halifax Convention Centre is already re-defining what it means to be the best hosts possible. As the demand for unique event experiences continues to grow, Halifax is ready to host the world and help you create a memorable conference for your delegates.