A jam-packed schedule can be counter productive

In today’s busy world, meeting planners have a unique opportunity to develop programs and experiences that will not only encourage connections and growth, but also provide attendees with some well-deserved rest and relaxation.

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I have worked with groups that plan every second of every day jam-packed with programming and have noticed that this only seems to create a burned-out vibe among attendees. Some of the most successful and memorable events I’ve seen have had relaxed schedules where attendees have plenty of down time to enjoy the destination, while truly allowing them to absorb the information they learned.

Frequent Breaks Encourage Interactions

When people are away from their everyday routines, they want the flexibility to do what matters most to help them connect. For some, that may mean the freedom to enjoy unique activities and for others a relaxed schedule allows them to interact with key colleagues and customers. It is important for meeting planners to keep in mind that although they may plan networking or team building activities to help attendees bond, sometimes the most important connections are formed organically and made outside of the boardrooms and ballrooms.

As we all know, a lot of important ground is covered during a conference—from company updates to information and training sessions—and this can sometimes lead to information overload. Allowing downtime and freedom to enjoy the destination doesn’t take away from the learning experience. It only makes attendees more enthusiastic to return to the program and focus on the information presented.

It’s also important to remember that attendees have busy lives outside of the meeting. I always recommend that planners allow enough time for phone calls, email checks, and even wardrobe changes between events. Again, a little free time between sessions and events will also allow attendees to gather their thoughts and truly absorb what they have learned so far.

Take Advantage of Your Destination

Meeting planners spend a lot of time selecting the perfect venue for their function, so it would be a shame to not give attendees ample amount of time to experience the destination. One way to provide some down time and flexibility is to arrange a free afternoon with a variety of fun, optional activities. For example, we have a plethora of activities for groups ranging from rafting the Colorado River to horseback riding. We’ve seen groups take a free afternoon where attendees can take part in golf, archery, trapshooting or zip-lining. This gives attendees the freedom to enjoy some time outside while personalizing their experience, and also encouraging team building and networking.

Consider Attendee Feedback

There really is no perfect work/play balance during a meeting. I recommend that planners start with a free afternoon and frequent breaks throughout the duration of the meeting. Feedback is very important. Ask your attendees if they feel they’ve had enough or too much downtime. This will provide valuable information when arranging the next meeting or conference.

Erin Cook is the Director of Sales and Marketing at Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa. She has nearly 10 years of experience working in the hospitality and meeting industries.