When planning a conference, there really is a great deal to plan for and include. For delegates, the conference meeting planner has almost every minute of the day, and often most evenings, planned out. Delegates are constantly kept on the go. Whether it’s educational, professional development, networking or plain old meetings, lunches, receptions and, well I could probably just sit here and type and the list would continue to grow, literally before our eyes. In short, let’s just say, a conference delegate is kept busy for the entire length of the conference. From when they arrive to when they depart, and pretty much every moment in between.
The dilemma with meeting planning, spouses and spouse tours always seems to be, should you provide pre-arranged tours and activities or not? Should you work with a local company to provide the tours or should you leave the plus one’s to their own devices? Like with most dilemmas, there is a valid debate on both sides.
Meeting Planning Services – Party of One, Right This Way…
So when the delegate is busy and is in total conference mode, what’s a spouse to do? I have been on both sides of this situation. I have attended numerous conferences as a plus one and as a meeting planner have coordinated more spouse tours then I could possibly remember.
Spouse tours and activities have grown to be much more than just a basic city tour. And believe me, I am a big fan of city tours. But spouse tours have come a long way. They are now genuine experiences that are designed to entertain and educate, as opposed to just filling in space. For example, in the past few years, as part of spouse tours, I have chartered trains and planes, have taken over a prominent museum, organized tours and lunches in exclusive homes, including meet and greets with sports and celebrity figures. As you can see, we really have come a long way.
Meeting Planning Services – I’ll take a Pass This Time…
I am also a huge fan of not planning out every single second and allowing free time for conference spouses. Often, attending a conference with a partner is the only opportunity for travel or a vacation. When personal situations allow, plus one’s will often jump at the chance to join their spouse at conferences.
The internet has enabled travelers to plot and plan out what they’re interested in and what they want to see and do. By researching and planning ahead, they have the freedom to go according to their timetable. No matter how fantastic the pre-arranged spouse tours are, some plus one’s will still choose to venture out and explore on their own, rather than being constricted by time frames or activities that may be of little or no interest to them.
When planning spouse tours for your next event, go for broke! Include both amazing experiences that will leave your plus one’s buzzing, and enough free time that allows them to explore the city on their own. Make optional, pre-arranged tours available and be sure to provide a registration deadline. That way there is something for those who want to participate and those who don’t. By providing both options you will please the crowd and make your job that much easier.