From Naps to Meeting Pods: New Ideas for Improving the Attendee Event Experience

November 17, 2017

Corporate event professionals are always looking for new ways to provide attendees with memorable event experiences. We all know how stressful meetings can be and how much people appreciate a break from the crowds.

Two frequent problems at events are never having enough rooms for everyone who wants to book a meeting, and even if attendees have a free hour, rarely is there any place for them to comfortably relax and recharge.

It’s common to see conference photos of packed areas, with people camped out with their laptops in hallways and on the floor inside the meeting rooms. While this clearly demonstrates the popularity of your event, is that really the experience your attendees want?

Obviously, you can’t magically create additional square footage, but you can offer your attendees some ways of finding at least a temporary oasis of calm.

It’s not unusual for show organizers and exhibitors to sponsor professional neck, shoulder and foot massage areas. Complimentary device charging areas are now commonplace. Meditation lounges have been gaining in popularity.

RAI Amsterdam, an international exhibition and conference organization that also operates a convention center, has partnered with Royal Auping, a leading bedding and mattress specialist in the Benelux region, to take the concept of relaxation and rejuvenation one step further – with a dedicated area for power napping.

A power nap lasts 20 minutes; the perfect duration for rest without falling into a deep sleep cycle.

The 26th Aquatech Amsterdam, a global annual event for water technology professionals, was held at RAI Amsterdam Oct. 31–Nov. 3 and featured the Auping Powernapping Area. This closed-off space provides four separate rooms with cradle-to-cradle Auping Essential beds and mattresses. Each room also contains power for a quick phone charge plus a place to hang coats and store bags.

A visit to the Powernapping Area lasted for a maximum of 30 minutes. Hostesses checked guests in and provided a choice of three different pillows (with a fresh pillowcase provided for each napper) and a small alarm clock to time the 20-minute nap. Earplugs and eye masks were also available upon request. Upon waking, attendees had time to freshen up and enjoy some tea, coffee or water.

RAI Amsterdam COO Maurits van der Sluis believes that the Powernapping Area will offer considerable value going forward.

“Physical meetings are the most intensive and valuable form of communication,” van der Sluis said.

He continued, “Exhibition days are often hectic for stand-holders and visitors alike and a brief powernap will help them be more alert and better able to take in information. We are convinced that the Powernapping Area will contribute to a more effective exhibition visit.”

The Auping Powernapping Area at Aquatech Amsterdam was a pilot project that, if deemed successful, will be implemented at other RAI Amsterdam exhibitions.

The other half of the equation is meetings. One of the promised benefits of events is the opportunity for face-to-face networking meetings – but how often are attendees able to comfortably have one-on-one or small group meetings during crowded events?

You may have seen a meeting pod in a startup office, structures designed to provide some privacy and shelter from noise within open plan working spaces, supplementing conference rooms. Now, those meeting pods can be used at events.

The Meeting Pod Company is a startup based on the Isle of Wight in the U.K. In addition to creating pods for sale to businesses, they are now making their customizable product available for rental use at conferences.

The pods come in a variety of configurations that can be customized to suit individual needs. Users can pick from the standard options or use the “configurator” tool to build their own.

The Economist Group held their annual EuroFinance conference Oct. 4–6 in Barcelona, an event that attracts more than 2,000 treasurers from around the globe. This year, The Economist Group used meeting pods to help attendees achieve some privacy for their onsite meetings. As it was the first time this type of setup had been used, it was a bit of a risk – but one that paid off.

Twenty pods were placed in EuroFinance’s conference space within the Barcelona International Convention Centre. Attendees were intrigued and deluged the show organizers with requests to book the pods for meetings.

“Our attendees loved the pods and they were in constant use all three days - a cherished space to have that private meeting, make that quiet phone call or just rest those weary feet,” said Luke Stalliard, head of content for EuroFinance.

The Meeting Pod Company’s managing director, Mike Dalloz, was pleased by the positive response.

“Delegates have really connected with our meeting pods,” Dalloz said. “The modular design, which can provide two- to eight-person spaces, is a great location to have private meetings, catch up on emails or network in larger groups, all while charging devices!”

Following the huge success of the EuroFinance conference, the company has been inundated with interest in supplying its pods for events across the world, he added.

Based on this demand, The Meeting Pod Company intends to ramp up its rental business so it can be ready to supply more pods for future events.

 

Have you seen other interesting implementations of new and innovative ideas for improving attendees’ experience at corporate events? Email me at dwmenegus@corporateeventnews.com!

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