To the Point

From the Outside In

Drawing inspiration from non-meeting activities.

Ah, summer. I can’t say mine has been hazy or lazy, but it has gotten me thinking about how meetings can take a cue from tourist attractions, tour operators, and even
weddings to engage participants in new and different ways.  

A Night at the Museum

Attractions like museums and baseball stadiums are amping up the visitor-experience level like no one’s business. A few years ago, spending a night in a museum was just the premise for a motion-picture comedy. Now, many major museums offer groups regular opportunities to sleep in the shadow of their most popular exhibits and to engage with history, animals, science, and staff in incredibly unique ways.
Likewise, some Major League Baseball teams are offering more than hot dogs and drinks — including a chance to run the bases, throw out a pitch, or take a behind-the-scenes tour. For a price, you can even announce the batters over the PA system for an inning at Chicago White Sox games.  

Let It Go

Any of you with children in your life are more than familiar with the runaway success of Disney’s animated feature “Frozen.” The seventh-highest-grossing movie of all time is also responsible for countless merchandise lines, and now you can add tours to the list. Adventures by Disney just launched “Frozen” tour packages to the quaint villages and stunning landscapes of Norway that inspired the film — and one of the tour options is adults-only. It turns out that up to 5 percent of tourism is inspired by movies, according to research by Sweden, Italy, and New Zealand, the latter of which saw a surge in tourism following the “Lord of the Rings” movies.

Here Come the Guests

In some ways, weddings are becoming less about the bride and groom and more about the guests, especially out-of-towners, thanks to wedding websites and social media. Guesterly is a new service that works with Facebook to create mini bios for everyone on the wedding-guest list, allowing them to learn more about each other before they even arrive. (For an app that creates similar pre-meeting dossiers on attendees, see p. 23.) One trend, according to Bridal Guide, is to let guests vote on which charity will receive a donation from the bride and groom in lieu of wedding favors.

While it may not seem immediately apparent how these ideas translate to meetings, what’s important is the fact that they provide immersive experiences. As meeting organizers, we also need to continually reinvent our approach to audience participation. You don’t want people to switch over to autopilot when they show up at your meeting —  or worse yet, decide not to return next year because they expect a repeat performance.
Surprise them, excite them, and give them new ways to engage, learn, and network. That’s what face-to-face meetings are all about.

Deborah Sexton

Deborah Sexton is president and CEO of PCMA.