In the last 6 months, we have pushed forward with connecting our clients with their delegates on a virtual level. DCC&A staff have spent this time training in virtual platforms, we have run webinars and we are quickly working through the pros and cons of hybrid vs. virtual vs. crossings-your-fingers-and-hoping-for-face-to-face-only.
As a Conference Manager, I can’t help but miss the parts of a conference it’s more difficult to move online – the opportunities for strangers to accidently cross paths, meet, connect and begin new and unexpected relationships.
Like that moment at a Welcome Reception observing delegates mingling over an arancini ball or duck pancake – when you can exhale that big breath you’d been holding in for the last 36 hours. Or watching connections being formed between exhibitors and delegates during a morning tea break.
But the event I can’t wait to get back to is the Gala Dinner. Traditionally held on the second last evening of an ASM, we’re through the majority of the conference and everyone is a little more relaxed.
One of our client’s starts every Gala Dinner off with “Dancing Queen” by ABBA, a tradition that quickly fills the dance floor. Many years ago, I taught an international speaker how to Nutbush. There’s always those delegates who seemed so quiet during the day, who then surprise everyone with their professional dance moves.
The Gala Dinner gives delegates the opportunity to connect with new acquaintances or familiar faces in a more informal setting than during the day. Memories are made for delegates when they have the opportunity to let their hair down - and dance with someone they may have had different opinions with during the day.
As delegates come back together on the final day of a conference, you can see the new relationships from the previous evening continue to strengthen.
In 2021, I hope we can move forward with more hybrid conferences. While we know the “new normal” will ensure there will need to be some online components included for those who are unable to travel to the conference destination, let’s hope that by the time we are conferencing again in 2021, we will be able to get back on that dance floor too.
Written by Alex Robertson, Conference Manager
Feel like being transported back to your last Conference Gala Dinner? Invite your colleagues to a Zoom meeting, crack open a Sav Blaunc and try this playlist. Don't forget to take a breather over a chocolate mouse or citron tart.