Is Your Annual Conference Fulfilling Your Attendees’ Needs?

Conference attendees expect a lot out of your association’s annual event, don’t they? So, how do you make sure you are not only meeting your attendees’ expectations, but exceeding them?

If you took a Psych 101 class back in college, I’m sure you learned about Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” theory states that human motivation is based on individuals seeking fulfillment and change through personal growth. Further, Maslow explained that an individual could not achieve needs at the top of the hierarchy before meeting the basic needs at the bottom of the hierarchy.

As a meeting professional, you understand planning an annual conference is about more than booking a venue and choosing a caterer. It’s about creating an experience where industry professionals can take away vast knowledge from experts to share with and improve their organizations.

Conference Attendees’ Hierarchy of Needs

Here’s how Maslow would explain how to create the full attendee experience at your annual meeting:

Hierarchy of conference attendee needs

5 Steps to Fulfilling Your Attendees’ Hierarchy of Needs

Step 1: Physiological

This is the no-brainer. In order to meet your attendees’ most basic needs, you need to provide food, beverage and rest. Food and beverage can be taken care of by booking a caterer, but are your conference sessions scheduled back-to-back? Make sure you add 15-minute breaks throughout the day to allow conference attendees to get a drink of water, recharge their brains or use the restroom without having to miss out on speaker presentations!

Step 2: Safety

Again, this is a meeting planning basic. You need to provide a shelter for your annual conference to give your attendees a sense of safety and well-being. Choosing a safe venue with nearby lodging for overnight stays in critical. And, as you know, holding your actual conference at a hotel where attendees can stay ensures their ultimate comfort and safety.

Step 3: Belonging

Once the basic needs are met, it’s important to fulfill your attendees’ social needs. One of the main reasons attendees go to your annual meeting is to network with other industry professionals, so make sure you are scheduling plenty of networking time!

Step 4: Esteem

Next, you need to make sure attendees feel confident, accomplished and respected. You should always be looking for opportunities to allow attendees to contribute to your conference. Sessions should consist of two-way conversations between the speakers and attendees. They should engage with games, surveys and break-out sessions. Your conference should also have an active Twitter hashtag for the event along with an event mobile app to get attendees to participate and contribute virtually.

Step 5: Self-Actualization

Are you providing your attendees with innovative ideas and knowledge that they can bring back and implement in their organizations? The knowledge doesn’t end when the conference does, which is exactly why your session handouts, recorded sessions and conference proceedings need to be made available in a digital publishing platform. If attendees can access conference materials online year-round, they are more likely to implement what they learned. By providing innovative ideas that advance their organizations, attendees will reach the ultimate self-actualization.


How is your association making sure you are fulfilling all the needs of your conference attendees? Let us know in the comments section below!

Learn Social, Collaboration and Innovation for Events

What comes to your mind when you think about the words – social, innovation and collaboration?

If you’re anything like us here at Omnipress, you probably have many different ideas buzzing around in your head, on your blog and Twitter stream.

We’ve been listening to industry thought leaders via webinars, reading blog posts, participating in Engage365 water cooler chats and conversations for quite awhile now. We think it is about time that we get together face-to-face to talk about how to bring more social media principles (think: two-way communication) into events.

So, we are sponsoring EventCamp Twin Cities in Minneapolis on September 8-9, 2010 to kick-off this discussion.

Why We Like EventCamp

One thing that we really like about EventCamp is that it is an innovation laboratory. The Event Camp Twin Cities team has pulled together several new collaboration experiences, the latest in event technology and some of our own Engage365 members to spark discussions.

To be honest, this is an ambitious topic that we don’t expect to be resolved in one day. Yet, it’s a discussion we at Omnipress (and through our Engage365 community) think is important. We will be there joining the conversations. We hope that you will join too.

Here are some resources for you:

This is going to be a great event. You can bet that after EventCamp, you will have tried at least ONE new thing that you can take back to your events to make the more innovative and social.

Hope to see you there!

P.S. Since I like deals – it’s worth noting that the price is reasonable at $85 and you can get cheap airfare on Southwest Airlines. Perhaps we’ll see you in Minneapolis!

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