As someone who is very involved these days in organizing both f2f and online conferences, I'm noticing conference details more than usual. I'm also attending the Spaces of Interaction: An Online Conversation on Improving Traditional Conferences conference this week, so my observations about running successful events are heightened.
One aspect that I really appreciate with Northern Voice is how accommodating they are with registrations. I purchased 2-day pass, but recently had to change my schedule and can only attend on Saturday. No problem! I just sent a quick email to the registration folks to give them the name of the person taking my place. They promptly responded. All taken care of.
Here are some other things I noticed about the conference organizers.
- They provide a conference wiki space so delegates can post information that, face it, delegates want to know -- like who is attending, (some kind sole even put it in alphabetical order) what happened at all the past conferences, and who is offering rides.
- They are proactive in encouraging delegates to take public transit through their correspondence with delegates and also offering all the relevant links to transit sites, etc. Folks are also self organizing car-pooling on the wiki.
- They are encouraging recycling of lanyards. I mean how many do you have in your desk drawer?
- They use language that is light, inviting, and friendly. For example, in an email message sent today this note about registration was included: "Registration opens at 8:30 on Friday and Saturday (maybe a few minutes earlier if we're organised)." This warm tone is important. I mean how can you complain when everyone is so nice? (Not that I could find anything to complain about!)
- Everyone is encouraged to document what happens at the conference and share it openly. You don't have to pay fees and attend the sessions to have access to the great presentation materials, podcasts, videos, photos, and dialogue. They're also careful to point out that you shouldn't publish photos or video of children without their parents' permission.
- They organize daycare. I don't have anything else to say about this. I mean, they organize daycare!
- They publish a tag (northernvoice09) for people to use for their blog posts, bookmarks, photos, etc. By doing this in advance anyone posting about the conference will use the tag. This helps with marketing (not that they need help with marketing -- the conference sells out fast!)
Hope to see you at Northern Voice!