Published on 14 December 2012

Meeting and Conference: Good Impressions Last

Columnist Caroline Cooper from Zeal Coaching asks how good an impression are you leaving with your valued meeting and conference delegates?

You work hard enough to win your meeting and conference business, so it makes sense to leave a positive lasting impression and an incentive for them to return. A lot of effort goes into first impressions, but what sort of lasting impression are you leaving on your meeting and conference delegates?

In my line of work I see a lot of meeting and conference venues, sometimes as a mentor, but frequently also as the client or a delegate. Normally the first impression is alright, you get a warm welcome and asked at the outset if everything is okay.

But it’s what happens after this that invariably leaves you let down. So whether you’re a 5 star branded hotel or a small independent here are few things that I’ve found often get over looked

The room setup

The appearance of the room is of course important, but the first impression goes way beyond how the room looks.

Is best to use made of natural light, or is this blocked off with a dependence on artificial light (which is far more tiring on the eye, as well as wasting energy)? Where artificial lighting is a must, is this logically positioned so that delegates are not sitting in their own shadows, and there is good light on the presenters and props?

The setup of the room requires logic. I often get the impression that porters have had no training and that the room has not been checked. For example:

Refreshments

Whereas the room setup will be more of a concern to the presenters than the delegates, the quality and timing of refreshments are a key factor for presenters and delegates alike.

Be responsive

Check the room temperatures and respond quickly to organisers’ requests to adjust this. The bane of my life is air conditioning. Invariably it blows too hot or too cold. Half the time I question whether it’s adds anything, particularly in a room where the windows open, but there are times when it’s needed. But nobody wants to be sat right beneath a blast of cold air, and adjusting it to suit everyone’s requirements is a fine line.

Having a system that can be turned off if required to my mind is vital. Having a system that keeps every room at the same temperature is sheer madness. If you have a room with just two people in it sitting still compared to a room with 30 people doing group activities letting off all that body heat, you’re obviously going to want them at different temperatures. So be prepared for organisers to ask for the temperature changed or for the air conditioning to be turned off altogether.

I sometimes feel as if I’ve asked for the moon when I make this request; is it too much to ask? But then please, please, respond and check that the adjustments have worked rather than going to the extreme.

What’s the last impression?

At one venue recently when we came out of our meeting at 5 pm all our lunch dishes were still there, and not a sole in sight – not very conducive to leaving a positive last impression.

And do you know what would be really memorable? Everyone wants to get off as quickly as possible, so just a few minutes of your time to help with the packing up and to get the organiser on their way just a couple of minutes earlier would always be welcome. And provides the perfect opportunity to gather that all important feedback.

I hardly ever get asked for feedback at the end of an event at a meeting or conference venue. I often feel that at the end of the day all the conference staff have knocked off and we’ve been left to it. This is such a wasted opportunity. Not only does it give valuable data, but what a great opportunity to build the relationship with the client.

You’ve worked hard enough for the business; surely you’d want to do everything in your power to leave a positive lasting impression and leave the door open for a repeat booking?

Zeal Coaching, .

About Caroline Cooper: Caroline Cooper specialises in helping hospitality businesses retain their existing customers by focusing on the customer experience and long term engagement. She has over 25 years’ experience in hospitality and is founder of Zeal Coaching and author of the Hotel Success Handbook. For more information, please visit www.zealcoaching.com.
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