From a delegate’s point of view, a two or three-day conference in South Africa can be taxing as, while many topics are discussed, informative and educational papers are read and many motivational aspects are given to improve performance and raise personal attitude etc. time out is also necessary to keep the balance and to afford delegates the opportunity to get to know one another on a social level in a relaxed atmosphere. This is therapeutic and is often valuable sharing time when individuals observe deeper aspects of what the conference is intended to leave with them.
Planning social functions during the run of the conference:
There are many considerations to take into account for the conference or event planner, besides it’s also fun as there is a host of entertainment and activities out there to select from!
- Arrival Day – Welcome evening
- Gala Night Dinner
Bear in mind that many delegates attending a conference do not know one another, have never met, perhaps not even ever corresponded. They are from diverse backgrounds, from different countries perhaps and therefore the first night of their stay at the hotel they are resident at is valuable for relationship building.
The most relaxed and comfortable evening event is a Cocktail Party or a Braai (if the venue has good outdoor facilities and most do). Formal seating is a no-no, but rather cocktail seating/standing to encourage mingling and easy conversation over a glass of wine, a beer and a snack.
The menu may consist of finger foods and/or fork foods, plenty of it to extend the evening into a sociable event while listening to good background music to create the mood and ambience you want. A guitarist/singer, a pianist or a saxophonist will provide the setting for good atmosphere, something unobtrusive.
While the conference is running, other evening meals are usually the normal restaurant meal of the day amongst other guests, unless specifically the client requires privacy in which case a private venue can be arranged. The final night, before departure however is important and this is usually combined with awards ceremonies, thanks and closure to the event. Therefore, this is usually a Black Tie Gala Event, or a themed evening which includes specific dress code, the menu, décor in the venue and entertainment. Some ideas …
‘Night Of The Stars’ – the entertainment for which may be a professional dance troupe, solo performers, accompanied by a live band who would then continue throughout the evening,
‘Live at the (name of the venue- copy-cat-tying the well-loved British show ‘Live at the Apollo’) with two or three comedians …
Comedy Theatre … we have some super-stars in this industry in SA who will, given enough information, write a script specifically for YOUR event, about your company and its employers and employees . . . this could be entertaining!
Fire eating, belly dancing, drumming … and the list continues …
Menu : This is very important and may either take the form of a hot and cold buffet or a plated meal, depending on what’s on offer at the venue. What works very well is an International ‘Around the World’ theme where the chefs create dishes from several countries and cultures, and the décor specialists provide booths around the perimeter of the room, decorated in theme, serving delights to guests as they move around the venue.
Any conference venue or hotel offering conference facilities will willingly design menus to suit your theme, your spec, and most importantly your budget!
- Organising a Conference – Part 2 (venuepages.wordpress.com)