Special Event – What about Bob?

BHoulihanBy Brenda Houlihan Experient

A key networking component of many conferences is the special event or gala. In the midst of planning, like most, I get tied up in the budget and tasks, forgetting it is suppose to be a fun and memorable event.

With so many different personalities in meeting planning.  It is very easy to forget the attendee demographic!  With one of my clients, I stress this and call it the “Bob” factor.  One of Experient’s Senior Managers is Bob, who embodies the age, education level, income, taste and travel experience of this group’s typical attendee.  Bob is a living, breathing example that I use during the planning process to solicit a typical attendee response.

Not all of us have a “Bob” at our disposal.  However, “Bob” is quite helpful as an example when the event organizer may be resorting to personal tastes rather than what “Bob” would respond to or enjoy.  Leave your personality and taste at the door and create a memorable event for “Bob” – your median expectation level.

A few years ago, I was working with a client on a gala dinner at an offsite venue in a resort destination.  I relied upon the client’s tastes versus the attendee demographics (aka Bob) and it did not produce the results we had hoped.  Lesson learned: the following year, we re-examined the group demographics.

Another helpful tip is I asked the client to offer three adjectives to describe their perfect event. The three words to describe the event were food, fun and activity. The sit down meal was replaced with action stations in one of the most popular nightclubs in Las Vegas.  The cost of the night club rental was reasonable because it was before they opened for the evening. After dinner, guests were treated to a Cirque du Soleil show. To say the least, the response was overwhelmingly positive.  Basically, it was all about Bob…and Bob was happy.


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