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Hello readers,

Sandi Robinson strongly believes that meetings are not just about business but also an opportunity to create an inspiring experience. Having worked in the hospitality industry since she was 16 years old, Robinson knows that the people and ideas behind a meeting can make or break it—after all, a boring meeting can’t be blamed on the space or topic.

As the current director of sales at The Godfrey Hotel Chicago, Robinson works with the many spaces at the property (including the indoor/outdoor spot I|O Godfrey with a retractable glass roof) to plan meetings and events for companies large and small. Some have included the BBC, Toyota and Google. Here are her four top tips to inspire attendees every time—no matter the time or place:

  • Engage at all brand touch points: From the online registration process to meeting execution, it’s all about creating an engaging, positive experience for everyone involved. Instead of having attendees fill out a simple written form online, maybe have them take a fun personality survey to determine what setting would be best for them and apply ideas accordingly. Maybe there is also video content to introduce guests to the property at which they’ll be meeting so they can get excited about it. Keeping a consistently engaging experience from that first encounter and even after the meeting is over is essential.
  • More tech is better than less: Always look for a room or venue that has as many technology capabilities as possible without appearing crowded or messy. Having more technology applications is a clear sign the venue is able to meet the needs of diverse groups. Then, plan to use all that’s available. Promote charging stations for guests’ phones, tablets and computers; plan video conferencing sessions if that technology is an option; make live social media a big component too to keep everyone engaged.
  • Have a change of space: It’s a good idea not to stay in the same meeting room all day. Breaks are essential to keep everyone’s interest, but staying in the same space can make it seem like more work. Instead, move the group to a different spot in the building if possible, maybe even a patio or outdoor space in nice weather. If you don’t have those options, at the very least transform the room to make it seem like new by presenting snacks and food that are interactive, changing the lighting and vibe, or moving around furniture for break times.
  • Meet your neighbors: If you are organizing a meeting or event where the participants do not all know each other, solicit fun facts about the guests at the beginning of the event and make that part of interactive icebreakers. Maybe someone recently went on an African safari or someone else is the national beer pong champion. Making introductions fun means less dreaded small talk and can encourage conversation in an organic way.

Happy Planning!

Selena Fragassi
Illinois Meetings + Events 

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