From video calls to conference halls: As large-scale conferences and events begin to usher in, many are looking forward to seeing colleagues and clients in person after over a year of virtual meetings. But if you feel like you’ve lost your IRL (In Real Life) meeting skills after being behind a computer screen, you’re not alone. To avoid appearing like a newbie, many event attendees are looking for guidance and tips as they plan a return to physical meetings and conferences.
As experts in event planning, Hilton introduced the EventReady Playbook in 2020, a global resource for event planners that’s designed to provide guidance, inspiration and solutions for creating and executing engaging and safe events. This month, to celebrate the launch of the “Diary of an Event Planner,” a Playbook content series that will candidly track and report the team’s planning efforts toward the company’s first major in-person conference in two years, team members from Hilton Worldwide Sales in the Americas share advice on how to prepare for in-person conferences.
- Don’t skip the warm-up: If business travel is like a workout, many of us are out of shape. Spend extra time “warming up” or paying attention to your travel and conference details. Make sure you are aware of the local health regulations and mandates of your destination, including mask and vaccination requirements, to avoid surprises.
- Take extra time planning transportation: If in need of a car rental, reserve your car and flight at the same time and as far in advance as possible, as car rentals are in high demand. When booking your airfare, be aware of airport policy changes and what they mean for your travel times.
- Avoid the lines (and dead batteries): The world is more contactless than ever before. Before traveling, download the apps, such as the Hilton Honors or Lyft app, that will make your travel experience more seamless. Additionally, as you may be using your phone more, consider bringing an external charger to resolve any on-the-go battery boosting needs.
- Hold back on the hugs: Returning to in-person events after nearly two years can cause both excitement and anxiety. Because you can’t predict everyone’s level of comfort, think twice before reaching for a hug or extending a handshake. Instead, watch for social cues or, if appropriate, simply ask your colleague if they are open to a particular gesture.
- Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint: Recognizing and actively working to sidestep engagement fatigue will help you make the most of your experience and avoid business trip burnout. Attending too many sessions or networking events can lead to a loss of engagement and focus. Pick and choose which optional sessions and networking opportunities you want to attend so you have ample time to rest and recharge. One way to maintain your mindfulness while attending a work event or conference is to keep your routine. Visit your hotel’s gym, if available, or a nearby trail for a jog. Hilton’s Five Feet to Fitness allows guests to pursue fitness and well-being in the privacy of their hotel room.
- Be patient: Finally, be prepared for how services at event and lodging venues have changed. Food and beverage services, for example, may not be what they were pre-pandemic. Get familiar with the dining options provided by the conference. Plan out when you want to grab-and-go solo, eat with others or plan to dine outside of the conference to get acquainted with the local cuisine. As one team member shared, “bring your patience and have fun”!
- When home, remember to recharge: After returning home from business travel, team members recommend taking time to recharge and offering to give your loved ones a break. Before divulging all trip details, check in with your friends and family. Remember, while you may have gotten a mini-getaway, they did not. Take a day or two to settle in and get into the swing of being back home and helping those around you.
For an insider’s look at what it takes to plan a successful corporate event, check out Hilton’s Diary of an Event Planner.
Hilton (NYSE: HLT) is a leading global hospitality company with a portfolio of 18 world-class brands comprising nearly 6,900 properties and nearly 1.1 million rooms, in 122 countries and territories. Dedicated to fulfilling its founding vision to fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality, Hilton has welcomed more than 3 billion guests in its more than 100-year history, earned a top spot on Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For list and been recognized as a global leader on the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices for five consecutive years. Hilton has introduced several industry-leading technology enhancements to improve the guest experience, including Digital Key Share, automated complimentary room upgrades and the ability to book confirmed connecting rooms. Through the award-winning guest loyalty program Hilton Honors, the nearly 133 million members who book directly with Hilton can earn Points for hotel stays and experiences money can't buy. With the free Hilton Honors app, guests can book their stay, select their room, check in, unlock their door with a Digital Key and check out, all from their smartphone. Visit stories.hilton.com for more information, and connect with Hilton on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.