Conferences can be a lot of fun and an amazing opportunity for networking and professional development–they can also be completely exhausting. Hosting an event party is one way to let your attendees relax and blow off steam after a long day of learning, as well as a great opportunity to explore your host city’s nightlife and enjoy the company of colleagues and peers. Like anything in the events world, there are definitely do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when planning a party.
Read on for WSB’s best practices for avoiding the dreaded “party foul!”
DO: Make it Memorable.
We all know experiences are here to stay, particularly when it comes to attracting a millennial audience to your event. Organizers in 2017 are focused on creating memorable and shareable experiences for attendees, and parties should be no exception. There are ways to incorporate impactful experiences into an event celebration at every budget level, from gasp-worth lighting design to high-tech social media gadgetry like slow-motion photo booths to smaller touches like unique venues and custom signature cocktails. No matter your approach, try to make your event’s reception a highlight for attendees that they’ll want to write home about–or at the very least Instagram.
DO: Make it Beautiful.
Speaking of Instagram…the standard-issue hotel ballroom doesn’t necessarily cut it anymore when it comes to hosting evening entertainment. Attendees have already spent much of the day in a stark convention center or conference hotel–why not make their night more visually appealing? Vendors offering flawless event design are plentiful in major conference destinations, and even smaller events can think outside the box towards creating a beautiful, relaxing environment for attendees looking to cut loose.
DO: Make it Delicious.
Remember rubber chicken? Luckily for attendees of every type of event, bland food offerings at events are a relic of times gone by. While many evening receptions focus more on hors d’oeuvres and finger foods than full-scale dinners, event professionals will still want to ensure attendees leave the party raving about the drool-worthy menu. Take it up a notch with local cuisine, adventurous combinations, and signature craft cocktails.
DON’T: Make it Drunken.
There’s few people who would turn their nose up at an open bar, but this type of soiree is an easy road to trouble. We all want to keep attendees happy and healthy at events. From the potential for dangerous situation arising from over-imbibing to the concern about hungover attendees missing out on the next day’s events, it’s wise to limit the complimentary beverages. Treating to a time-limited open bar or offering drink tickets is one way to ensure everyone has fun–but doesn’t go overboard.
DON’T: Pick the Wrong Venue
It’s a cliche for a reason, but….location, location, location. Yes, your venue should be memorable, but you should still avoid making the venue more important than convenience. Stay in the neighborhood of your event to make things as seamless as possible when transitioning to evening activities. Additionally, keep in mind the size of your expected crowd: too big a venue and your party looks sparsely attended and loses momentum. Too cramped a space and no one can breathe.
DON’T: Make it an All-Nighter
Whether you’re hosting a reception for a multi-day national conference or capping off a single day event, you don’t want to keep your attendees out to all hours. Conferences have busy schedules that often include breakfast keynotes or early breakouts, and conserving energy is a must. Even for shorter events, with most taking place on a weekday, you’ll want to respect the time constraints of attendees and make sure to wrap things up at a reasonable hour.