Conferencing Outside the Box

Jun 13, 2013 by

There is a lot of discussion right now about a conference center in JCMO.  We won’t get into that right now, but I did live tweet the presentation of the proposals.  You can read the proposals, watch the presentation, and submit public comments here.

I wanted to share with you an idea that we use for Jeff City START for event planning that I’m not sure is in everyone’s tool box.  I can’t remember where the idea originated, but I’m fairly certain it wasn’t mine.  We have a great team — could have been Ken, Gus, Kayla, Angela, Kristi, Amber, or Heather.  I’m sure it is not a novel idea, but I can’t really find any other articles out there on the topic.

So what do you do if you are trying to show off the uniqueness of your conference or event location, keep people awake, and have an event people are going to talk about? Do your breakouts Downtown.

Conference Downtown JCMO

Downtown has several facilities large enough for an all conference keynote or luncheon (Capitol Plaza, the Double Tree, G2 Gallery).  My guess is this isn’t unique to JCMO but is the case for most Downtowns.

When it is time to do some smaller sessions – take a walk and show off what you are working with.  We did this for our Jeff City START event.  Summer interns met with industry professionals in groups of three to ten all over our Downtown:  a law office, a coffee shop, a diner, our CVB, an event venue, a restaurant, and a bank.   Last year, we included a loft apartment.

Our interns LOVE this part of the day – they get to explore and experience a piece of JCMO while still taking part in a professional event.  Personally, it is my favorite part of our day too.  Over lunch, I heard one intern say “I went to _____” and describe in detail the location of her breakout to another intern.   Great conversation starter for event attendees.  Great way to showcase your host location for community leaders and event planners without having to organize separate optional “tours” which attendees might choose to forego.  Wouldn’t it be nice to ditch the rubber chicken and hit up local restaurants for smaller group discussions over lunch?

Conference Downtown JCMO

Some say we have waited 80 years for a conference center in JCMO.  Even with the current proposals on the table, it will take time.  With a little creative thinking — we can “conference” outside the box now. So to event professionals, meeting planners, and community leaders: I hope you will put this idea in your toolbox and consider our Downtown (or your Downtown) for your next event.

What is your best idea for creative conference or event planning?

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