Last week, I read a very interesting article on Fyens.dk about Denmark’s newest convention and culture center, Odeon (sorry, guys, the article is in Danish). A great place where you can have your meeting (large or small) or go to a concert or musical.
Apparently, Odeon – who opened its doors less than two months ago – has a bad case of ’rude guests’ who show up late to shows…and think that it is OK! Odeon often need to postpone the start of concerts and shows for 10-15 minutes in order to accommodate the performing artists who have to put up with this sloppy attitude.
I don’t know if Odeon can do anything to avoid situations like this, as the audience don’t know their host – and I believe that this makes a difference as delegates might feel some sort of obligation towards a host they meet at the event (or maybe it has something to do with generations?) – but if you find yourself in a situation like the one Odeon has experienced, I have a few tips for you.
In my opinion, you have two ways of solving this problem: You can use the carrot or the stick!
If you use the latter, it is as simple as ‘warning’ your delegates that the doors will close at a certain time and then enforcing the ‘threat’. However, I am more into carrots than sticks, so I believe in making this time slot interesting to the delegates and part of the event.
Most meeting planners allocate a time slot for registration before the meeting or events begins. During this, the delegates can arrive, register, and maybe network and have a cup of coffee. But have you thought of spicing this time slot up by
- giving a gift to the first x number who shows up in the allocated registration time slot
- having a facilitated networking session (depending on your target group)
- having a lounge session with some of the speakers – where the delegates can meet them in a more intimate setting
- having a pancake station/food truck/cocktail bar (insert any form of eating or drinking that goes with your event) up until half an hour before your event begins
All of this is a change of culture, which is not an easy task, and it will probably take some time, but in the end, it will be worth the while to go that extra mile.
You can start this change by communicating the fact that it is super-great to show up in due time and what the advantages of doing so are – but naturally, everything you say has to be authentic: If you communicate that it will be great to be there, it has to be great! Authenticity is the key for all experiences!
Last, but not least, I have to say that it is very disrespectful towards all the other attendees that some people do not think it is important to be on time. And I really hope that the people in question have taken a long, hard look at their own behavior. We all have a responsibility as attendees at an event, show, or concert.
Happy meeting, everybody!