Spotlight on Meetings and Conventions
Bleisure: The best-kept secret to increase event registrations and engagement
Event organizers know: a huge slice of their time is spent on an onslaught of strategies and logistics to make their events one that goes down in the books as being the most instructive and fun. From top-notch speakers to great dining to fun entertainment, planners can pull out all the stops to attract, delight and engage. However, while a great conference program and a solid promotional strategy can attract delegates, event planners have another secret weapon they can use to increase attendance: bleisure.
Bleisure, or a means to extend business trips and turn them into leisure breaks for event attendees and their families, is a growing trend that allows business travellers to blur the lines between work and pleasure. Albeit, it’s nevertheless an age-old tradition that many professionals have embarked on before it became a hashtag. However, over the past few years, it’s been given a jolt of hipness, which can have significant impact on your event’s success.
So why is bleisure so important for the strategy of your next event or convention? Here are some top tips and reasons why bleisure should play an important part of your action plan.
1 Professionals are deep sixing vacation time
Studies abound that workers around the world are taking less and less vacation time, leaving them burnt out and depleted. An extra few days stay in an event’s host city can do wonders for the mind.
Planners should therefore schedule some time to negotiate extended hotel packages and scout out activities, pre- and post-event that will entice potential event goers. The thrill of (oh my!) actually having a day or two off can truly impress your potential delegates.
2 Say re-hello to the fam!
Credit: Stéphane Audet Zoom
Even more astounding, surveys conducted among business travellers, many of whom almost have their passports tattooed on their hands, have shown that busy professionals are not only taking less vacation time but are also spending less time with their families.
Developing a family friendly event—meaning that delegates can bring their spouses and children, and participate in their own activities—can go a long way to boosting registrations and event appreciation. One stellar way to make this happen is to carve some time out to plan just for attendee spouses and kids. Look for fun things to do during the day, accessible dining options, and great tourist attractions for people of all ages. What’s more: you’ll score extra brownie points if you develop a program dedicated solely to accompanying family members!
3 Negotiate the extras
When putting together a bleisure program, muscle your negotiation skills. Apart from the obvious prolonged room rates, consider nailing discounts for local restaurants and tickets, free transportation, priority admission or seating, and other perks. Hassle-free planning, with which attendees can just book, go and save, can go a long way to entice delegates to unwind after your event.
4 Tag on extra informal networking time
During an event’s hectic scheduling and off-hour activities, busy professionals may find they have little time for networking. Sure, you may have planned a cocktail hour, banquet dinner or off-site activity for this very reason; however, some attendees may prefer some added time to deepen their relationships. Why not organize an additional day of optional and informal activities so that delegates can connect even further? Think golfing, city tours or outdoor adventures with gear rentals. Make it sensational, yet simple!
5 Reach out to employers and HR departments
Whether you’re organizing an event as part of a corporate retreat or a sales-driven conference, an extra dose of marketing towards your attendees’ managers and HR teams won’t hurt; bleisure time is not only a compelling way to assist employees in their overall well-being but may actually qualify for part of a company’s employee benefits package; in other words, some event planners are observing more and more businesses paying for their employees bleisure time as an added incentive for a job well done.
If the companies you’re dealing with have bleisure-friendly policies, make sure you work with them to promote your event—and the bleisure options you have put together—for some extra marketing clout to get potential event goers to attend.
As an event planner, you need to differentiate your event and offer guests emotions and experiences they cannot find anywhere else. And bleisure opps are the way to go. They can season any conference or convention with the creativity and enjoyment they are looking for—all while fostering event performance and engagement!