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Actionable Steps to Planning a SMART Meeting

Actionable Steps to Planning a SMART Meeting

Without a doubt, meeting planners are one of the busiest professionals I know. They have to manage the logistics, as well as, all the attendees, speakers, sponsors and VIP needs. They need to be involved in contract talks, management meetings and site visits.

But…busyness doesn’t necessarily reflect a great, productive meeting. Attention to details doesn’t mean anything if the event doesn’t drive attendee and sponsorship participation.

So, what should you do?  Let’s start way, way back at the beginning of the meeting planning process.

Why Have the Meeting in the First Place?

This might seem like an intuitive answer, but is it? Just because you have had fifty consecutive annual conferences, doesn’t mean you need the fifty-first one. Drill down on the purpose of the meeting and make certain you are drawing in all your potential attendees — face-to-face and virtual ones.  

Establish SMART Objectives

Once you have your reasons nailed down, work toward the following metrics:

Specific: What do you want to accomplish? Sell out the conference? Raise $50,000 in a fundraiser? Introduce a new product or service to your clients and prospects? Whatever it is, write it out.

Measurable: How will you know if you are successful? Say you sell out the conference, raise the money earmarked for a charity or launch a new product, is that all there is? Chances are you want to measure things like sales made or attendee satisfaction rates. Be sure to create the right measurement tools for each objective.

Attainable: Don’t set yourself up for failure by creating impossible goals. If you have had 400 attendees over the past three years, getting 1,000 this year could be a real stretch. Work toward modest growth objectives.

Realistic: Again, it is great to brainstorm and create new ideas, but you need to remain authentic about your organization’s resource limits, including your event budget.

Timely: With time, come challenges. If you set up your goals too early, there might be a technological or organizational change that will make your objectives obsolete. Look at your goals every month and adjust based on the latest information you have available to you.

Now Focus on Your Target

Once you know the true purpose of your conference and have set up your measurement system, now it’s time to focus on your potential attendees.

Remember the following algorithm:

  • 25% of your attendees will always say YES (loyal, past participants)
  • 25% will always say NO (might not be the same group of invitees, something is keeping them from going) and
  • 50% need to be convinced your conference is right for them.

So, if your goal is 500 attendees, don’t invite 500 expecting them all to say yes; expand that list to 625+. And make certain you have the right group of potential attendees – the ones that have a true interest in your organization and/or conference message.

Smart Technology Can Help

When it comes to measuring goals and objectives, look to technology to ease your burden. For example:

  • Chatbots can help answer questions during the registration process and at the event;
  • RFID or NFC devices can track attendees throughout the conference and trade show floor thus allowing event organizers to track credits earned and exhibitors to push notifications to their devices;
  • Mobile apps can help with polling, bidding, note taking and gamification. Consider setting up cell phone charging kiosk rentals in common areas for users to answer polls or share comments;
  • A social media listening tool can help event staff address complaints and reviews on a real-time basis and;
  • iPad rentals can be used by exhibitors to display videos, photos and presentations about their products.

All in all, SMART goals coupled with smart technology can help build a better experience for every individual involved in the meeting.

About Hartford Technology Rental

With four distribution centers in Washington DC, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, every event, convention, and conference is nearby, making it easy for us to bring our state-of-the-art technology to you! Please contact us so we can learn more about helping you achieve your SMART goals!