7 Hub Spaces to Meet Your Attendees’ Needs

For years, high-tech conferences like Dreamforce and Microsoft Ignite have designed innovative hub spaces to engage and nurture their top customers. While some of the elements in these areas can be costly to implement, creating a town-square-like experience can help bring your participants together and grow your community.

Author: Dave Lutz, CMP       

CL22 Work Lounge

The Promenade was the hub of Convening Leaders 2022 at Caesars Forum, offering networking spots, sponsor activations, and the Work Lounge sponsored by Visit Indy. (Jacob Slaton Photography)

Recently, our team got together for a strategy session and put on our design-thinking hats. We brainstormed what a hub should deliver from an attendee point of view. Here’s what we came up with:

7 Purposeful Hub Experiences

A conference hub should be a destination that participants want to go to when not attending sessions or walking the expo hall. It should benefit attendees by meeting or exceeding their needs in these ways:

SERVE — Hub spaces should always include some sort of concierge or help desk so that participants can easily understand and navigate what’s available in this multi-purpose space. Some organizations put registration services in the hub to help welcome the participants.

CONNECT — Your hub should feature networking spaces or lounges. Some organizers design experiences that provide access to experts — like a mentor neighborhood or human library. Another popular addition is to incorporate demo kiosks where tech providers can share their solutions and grow connections.

ENGAGE — The hub should enable people to be active participants in the event. Some organizations have enlisted the help of their top sponsors to use engagement to best activate their sponsorship.

Engaging activities include opportunities for the attendee to create, do, or get something. It may be getting a new professional headshot, making an emotional connection with puppies, or competing in an activity like building a giant Jenga. Entertainment options or a photo wall to capture and share conference memories also are popular inclusions.

LEARN — Micro-learning experiences in small theaters top the list. Scientific conferences can include e-posters and poster discussions. Overflow session viewing is also a popular draw for attendees.

REJUVENATE — Participants should find this a place to relax, recharge, and discover elements of surprise and delight so they can get their second wind to tackle long conference days. Coffee and cookies included.

BROADCAST — When an attendee sees your conference as a place where news is being made, it helps validate their participation. Provide fishbowl-viewing access to live podcast and video interviewing studios.

GEAR — When conference attendees turn into raving fans, they’ll need gear. Go beyond the traditional bookstore and include items they can proudly wear or display to promote their profession.

Dave Lutz, CMP, is managing director of Velvet Chainsaw Consulting.