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Tips For The Traveling Executive: Unconventional Convention Ideas
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Tips For The Traveling Executive: Unconventional Convention Ideas - Executive Leadership Articles

Tips For The Traveling Executive: Unconventional Convention Ideas

Executive Leadership Articles

Tips For The Traveling Executive: Unconventional Convention Ideas

Professional or trade conventions are an unavoidable fact of life for many of us. Whether we love the actual gatherings but hate the travel, or find the entire experience an exercise in self-aggrandizement, the regularity and sameness of these meetings can wear a bit thin after some time. Toward a new approach, we offer these suggestions for breathing new life into annual conventions.

Head for the Fringe
Every year, there are the expected buzz-worthy breakout sessions and keynote addresses, most of which the responsible convention-goer must be familiar with. But there are also those strange, what-are-they-thinking breakout sessions, often relegated to distant corners of the convention halls. Look for those, and find out what’s going on. These strange presentations can be hit or miss and are usually the latter, but when a big idea in your field catches on, it can often be traced by the diligent researcher to some eccentric visionary who was talking about it before the rock stars in the industry latched on. Check out what these people are selling, and go with an open mind. Get contact info, stay in touch, ask follow-up questions, and you may be on the inside track to a next big thing.

Stick Together
Some organizations, when sending groups to conventions, ask attendees to spread themselves out, so as to absorb as much as possible from as many corners of the gathering as possible, perhaps to share at future in-house meetings. There’s merit to this approach, as there is to the let-everyone-chase-what-interests-them approach, but consider adding a third: find a breakout session that has some kind of significance to your group as a whole. Have everyone sit together and make your company’s presence felt by everyone else. At huge conventions, the group mentality makes it more likely your company’s participation will be noticed and remembered. If you have some kind of connection to the breakout speaker, you can really establish some goodwill if the speaker will acknowledge your group’s presence and call it by name. A nice side effect this approach offers is a sense of camaraderie and pride among your people.

Leave a Place Better Than it Was When You Got There
If your company is sending a group, think of ways it can serve either the convention itself or the community in which the convention is being held. Offer your group’s services in any way it can be put to use inside the facility (emergency errand-running, or secure bag-holding for all the tote-bags full of promotional schwag and tchotchkes people get tired of lugging around). Any way a service can be provided that is usually not offered is fair game; just make sure you’re rolling up your sleeves along with the rest of the group. Consider extending your stay half a day and finding somewhere in your host city to perform some kind of community service. Hiking trails need cleanup and repair; shorelines might need some TLC. Get your team to brainstorm possibilities before the trip, and if it works out, consider inviting other companies to get involved next time. It could become an annual part of the convention, something else for people to look forward to.

Schwag Differently
Speaking of all those company-branded knickknacks we collect at these things, if yours is one of the groups sharing it, for the sake of everyone who has to carry that stuff around, consider giving away the kind of stuff that actually gets used. For a long time, branded USB drives were the coolest schwag you could get, but cloud storage is making these drives less useful. It might cost more, but do a little research and find something people will actually want, the thing they’ll stop and look for in abandoned schwag-totes when the convention is over and people are fleeing the building. The world doesn’t need more tote-bags, fridge magnets, cheap pens, or sticky-notes. Give it something people will talk about!


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Tips For The Traveling Executive: Unconventional Convention Ideas - Executive Leadership Articles

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