The number one reason people attend conferences is to network with others. At a conference, spouses are in a unique position to learn about their signifigant others industry and the special challenges they face.
Meeting planners often neglect this critical audience, when essentially all they need to do is include some engaging activities for spouses at a conference.
Because spouses dont participate in all conference activities, usually they get a reduced rate.
Here are some ideas to boost attendance and encourage spouses to attend conferences:
Plan a spouses networking seminar. This is a workshop designed to help spouses learn to network. Spouses, often not in the industry may find it daunting to introduce themselve to others. This motivational and fun seminar should offer quick tips on how to work a room.
Include spouses in all the general session motivational keynote speakers, networking events, and evening events.
Remember families Eat Together. All meals ( breakfast, lunch and dinner) should include spouses. This means the programming at these events( motivational keynote speakers, AGM's, industry guest speakers, panels, etc) should be engaging enough that spouses would be interested.
Plan to have unplanned evenings for spouses to enjoy the venue on their own.
Plan interesting day tours like a group shuttle to museums, shopping venues, landmark buildings, gardens, breweries or wineries etc.
Plan round table discussion on topics of interest like the things that stress you out about the industry, how to manage work/ life balance, how to communicate with confidence about stressful topics.
Include spouses in industry update sessions so they know what is on the horizon in the industry.
Encourage spouses to browse the trade show floor, talk to suppliers and network. I was a motivational speaker for an industrial safety company where they created a bingo game just for spouses to interact with vendors.
When I was a motivational speaker for the industrial safety company, they had an interesting session on social media. Discussion included: What it is, it's various forms ( linked in, facebook, twitter, etc) who uses it and social media ettiquette.
Learning doesn't stick unless you follow through, so plan a program to help attendees make commitments to stay connected with other delegates. This will help solidify relationships and ensure spouses return to future events.
Art Gallery Tours
Day at the Spa
Plan a ladies night out- Include a motivational keynote speaker just for women