Are you planning to attend a professional conference? Here are some etiquette tips and best practices that I have learned over the years as a professional meeting planner and as an attendee.
- Register Before the Early Bird Deadline. Try to register for the conference before the registration fee increases. It not only saves you money, it gives the conference planning team ample opportunity to provide you with all of the valuable pre-conference communication. Check out my post on “What to Know Before You Register for a Professional Conference.”
- Book Your Reservation Within the Conference Hotel Room Block. Book your hotel room reservation within the block of rooms reserved for the conference. Why? Here are several reasons — 1.) The conference organizers has inspected and vetted the hotel block; 2.) Most of the conference participants are going to book a hotel room within the conference block, so your opportunities for informal networking will increase; 3.) If the hotel “overbooks” the rooms (this is a common practice of hotels, airlines, doctors offices, etc), and they have to “bump” some guests to another hotel, the guests within room blocks are typically protected first. It’s the transient travelers who are typically “bumped” to another hotel for the night; and 4.) Booking your reservation within the conference hotel block helps the conference organizers financially, which in turn, helps you. — Why? When the hotel room block booked by the conference organizer sells out, it increases the overall value of that conference to the hotel’s revenue managers. As a result, the conference organizers avoid expensive attrition fees and it gives the conference organizers the power they need to negotiate affordable room rates for future conference years.
- Check Out the Conference Web Site Before You Schedule Your Travel. You don’t want arrive after a desired pre-conference workshop, so check out the conference agenda before you book your travel. And, remember to check out the actual location of the conference to ensure that you fly into the closest airport.
- Honor the Conference Dress Code(s). Before you pack your bags, review the dress code or the attire inspiration boards. You should definitely showcase your style, but you also want to try to honor the organizer’s requests for attire.
- As You Pack Your Luggage, Leave a Little Room for Swag. You are more than likely going to purchase some souvenirs and receive some conference swag. You don’t want your luggage weight to tip over the 50-pound limit, so leave a little room in your luggage to accommodate your return trip.
- Let Your Clients Know That You Will be Out of the Office. Give them the heads up so that you can be fully engaged in the conference. Here is my post with tips for communicating your time “out of office” with your clients.
- Arrive in the Session Rooms Early. Try to arrive in the room at least 10 minutes before the start of each conference session to allow yourself time to grab a bite, network, and secure a good seat.
- Avoid Chatting During the Sessions. Respect the speaker(s) and the organizers by remaining quiet during the sessions. Put your phone on silent or vibrate. If you have to take a call, leave the room. And know that you can chat and network with others before the sessions begin, during the break, and after the session is over.
- Stay Hydrated. You don’t have to purchase a new bottle of water every day — You can bring a refillable water bottle with you. Refillable water stations are becoming more and more prevalent in event spaces.
- Wear Comfortable Shoes. You will more than likely walk a lot each conference day. If you want to last all day, consider wearing comfortable shoes.
- Network! Do not sit at the same table throughout the conference with people you already know. Step outside of your comfort zone, and sit next to someone you don’t know. Strike up a conversation with new and seasoned attendees and network. Check out my post on “An Event Pro’s Guide to Networking at a Conference.”
- Practice Safety. Don’t wear your conference badge outside of the hotel, resort or conference center. Don’t drink and drive. Be mindful of your surroundings. Here is a post with tips to follow if you lose your wallet while traveling.
- Tip the Service Staff. Bring some cash with you so you can tip the hotel staff, spa staff, valet parkers, tour guide, and restaurant wait staff who provided you with good service during your stay. If you are unsure what to tip, check out my post here and here.
- Follow Up. Send a quick email to the people you meet at the conference. Discuss future business opportunities. Follow each other on social media.
Enjoy the conference!
Love and Soul Always, Kawania
Photography: Love Life Images