CONFEX = Conference with an exhibition in tandem
The MICE Academy has had the privilege of ‘attending’ several high-powered on-line South African association conferences with national and international delegations amounting to well over 25 presenters in 2 or more programme days plus more than 1500 industry viewing delegates.
Talk about slick and what the viewing delegates really want – there is but one word – Wow! These member associations have got it down to a fine art.
The CONFEX promotion wording outlines the entire programme per session and the presenters for each session together with the name of the facilitator / chairperson. Included is the background information as well as the dates and times. Most important is who the target audience is as well as the level who would gain most from the CONFEX.
Gone are the long winded fancy-decorated platforms with blindingly bright lighting while several speakers sit perched on high stools – similar to trained circus animals or slouched in low-slung leather lounge chairs – waiting for a confused-looking facilitator / chairperson to field (hopefully) intelligent questions. As for long-winded presenter intros and their background by the chairperson at commencement – which are nothing but time-wasting episodes of extreme boredom. If the presenter does not know their subject, no convincing background information will change a viewing delegate’s mind – they will merely switch-off.
Emulating the old normal of face-to-face gatherings with repetitive, well-worn formats will result in many viewing delegates exiting – immediately – to make coffee, walk the dog or do some actual productive work et al.
The viewing delegate – being in their own environment or in front of a pre-appointment screen –wants the facts, updated information and able to participate as per a punctual programme. The Academy believes this is the MICE revolution which is likely to perpetuate going forward and following Covid-19.
Some of the salient pointers – as a viewing delegate of several online CONFEX:
- 2 to 3 CONFEX days 08h00 to 17h00
- 5 x one hour sessions per day (approx)
- 20+ exhibitors
- Social media promotion is 2 to 3 weeks in advance of CONFEX days
- Varying & pertinent subject matter per session
- Registration is for the entire CONFEX for prospective viewing delegate
- Viewing delegates log-in and out to the sessions of interest
- 30 minute sms reminder prior to each sessions commencement
- Each session has 2 to 4 presenters together with a facilitator
- Presenters name on screen with profile in CONFEX blurb only
- Viewing delegates may pose questions at any time
- Recording available post CONFEX
Some questionable aspects may be worth noting:
- On-line presenters eating & drinking while listening to others should be reconsidered;
- Uncertain whether exhibitors get full exposure and leads for their financial outlay;
- Facilitators appear to have challenges in answering the majority of the questions put forward. A different approach to acknowledging the questioner and answering the questions off-line should be considered;
The New Normal of Face-to-Face MICE Gatherings
Of course face-to-face have other distinct advantages however it is likely to be revived with specific conditions for all suppliers & services in being a serious part of the outcomes in order to justify the expenditure – especially for the hospitality sector.
The days of waffle, ego-trips, long-winded unpunctual presenters (whispered as the ‘sage-on-the-stage’), unprepared ‘experts’ and transient plenary delegations are indeed likely to be over.
A further article is underway as to the manner in which MICE suppliers and services should adjust and prepare for the new normal as outlined within this article. This will include the financial profitability ratios going forward.