Is your conference really what delegates want?


Professional conference organisers know that one can never cater to all tastes, but how many are actually hitting the mark? TAM surveyed a number of regular conference goers from numerous sectors to determine what delegates really want from conferences. There were many parallel expectations across sectors, with a measure personalisation coming to the fore in all sectors.

The academics

In the academic sector, many conferences require international travel. “Going to a conference is usually a disruptive experience, so comfort is important. If I am staying over at the venue, it’s important to me to have good Wi-Fi to stay in touch with family,” said the respondent, a doctor of philosophy at a South African University. “As a delegate I expect an easy to read programme, and well-marked venues, especially if there are parallel sessions. In terms of food, a light lunch with vegetarian options is important, as well as snacks and coffee for afternoon tea. There need to be ample plug points and good Wi-Fi.”

The doctors and medical reps

A medical professional noted relevant stakeholders of prime importance. The ability to network and glean information from other delegates, as well as sufficient time for questions and answer sessions with speakers was also ranked highly. “I also appreciate good time management. People are out of sales or out of office, so to waste time makes it even worse. I expect the facilities to be convenient, and to me this includes good catering with light meals so that people can still pay attention after lunch.”  

The finance sector

A frequent delegate from the banking sector felt that having comfortable seating was top priority. “Sitting, listening to presentations for hours on end tend to take its toll on your body. Seating, as well as having sufficient space around you is imperative. Further I like to have bottled water, and decent coffee on offer. Facilities such as clean bathrooms, a relaxing environment for breaks, aircon, and parking as also important.” The respondent further noted that natural light makes a conference much more enjoyable. “Sitting in boardrooms day and day out gets monotonous. Going to a conference with the exact same “view” tends to be uninspiring.”