Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

August 30 2016

How To Give Your Attendees Enhanced Meeting Space Options

Jeanna Hofmeister

Event planners and conference organizers often focus their efforts on creating agendas jam-packed with end-to-end sessions and networking opportunities. But the vast majority of conference attendees are still working when they’re on the road, meaning they need to stay in touch with their offices and their families at home. More than ever, they require quiet spaces to mentally recharge, get personal work done, make private phone calls and engage in quieter interactions.

“We need to realize that we’re not in hospitality,” says Chris Gowe, Director of Sales for the Vancouver Convention Centre. “We’re in the adult education business and we need to make sure what’s happening in our pre-function spaces supports what’s happening inside the meeting spaces.” The Centre has been working with a team of strategists from Steelcase Event Experiences to refocus their spaces. “We had some spaces in the building, and while they were aesthetically pleasing, they were a pass through,” says Gowe. “Now that they’re activated, they’re a landing zone and a destination.”

In addition to offering attendees more private workspaces, the Centre is also reimagining similar spaces that can be used to bring people together in a way that fuels engagement and interaction. “When I saw the experiences Steelcase created for the TED Conference, I can’t tell you how excited I was,” he says. “They’re helping us create the next iteration of engaging and purpose-driven spaces outside of meeting rooms.”

In what is a typical pre-function area at the Vancouver Convention Centre, delegates will now find creative spaces for networking or conducting business while on-site attending an event. “Using our extensive research and insights about space, we help planners design purposeful environments at their conferences and events to support their attendees ability to connect and learn,” says Steelcase Business Development Manager, Mary Cook. “Foyer spaces are great options for open-space learning (OSL) environments and to support planned and impromptu meetings.  They’re big, filled with natural light and are energizing,” says Cook.  "Pre-function spaces should always be activated to support these types of activities."

Learn MoreResearch Study - Sound Management and Open Space Learning Environments

Here are some ideas for versatile spaces that can be incorporated into your next event or conference:

1) Focus On Quiet Areas.


Private quiet areas allow people to comfortably get work done within the Convention Centre. Ensure these spaces are free from distractions, even prohibiting the use of phone conversations. This allows for a quiet workspace where attendees can escape to geCancelt work done, send out a quick email or just take some time to recharge.

2) Design Phone Booths or Conference Call Areas.


These areas allow people to hold private phone conversations away from high traffic and busy event areas enriching the overall experience both for those needing to use their phones and those at the event.

3) Create Small Meeting Spaces

By utilizing typical pre-function space, you can establish creative spaces for networking or conducting business while on-site. Fully-connected work stations, causal café-style booths and private boardrooms are all great ways to transform unused space into a thriving hub for more personal networking.

4) More Variety is Better


Providing a variety of open and private spaces to accommodate both planned and impromptu meetings shows your attendees that you value their experience and their time. Flexible, purposeful and well-designed spaces can save attendees a step by not having to reserve a room at your venue in advance. Providing these diverse spaces also facilitates meaningful networking between your attendees.

“To watch how quickly people have embraced these new space concepts where they can plug in, or meet with colleagues, it’s been amazing,” says Gowe. “We’re really inventing the meetings of the future.”

Brought to you by Vancouver Convention Center

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