Transform Your Attendees Waiting-Time Into Useful-Time

October 5, 2011

in Ideas, Networking, People Management

If you haven’t yet, watch the following genius campaign that British retailer TESCO implemented in the South-Korean subway. Their local branch called Homeplus had the goal of becoming the n.1 grocery without increasing the number of stores. It was a win-win proposition because TESCO increased its business by offering a service that people waiting at the metro station find useful.


Now how could this be applied to conferences?

Transforming “Waiting Time” During Registration Into “Useful Time”

TESCO studied the market and found that koreans were the “second most hard-working” people in the world and for them doing grocery-shopping once a week was a “dreaded task”. Through the campaign, and with the idea of letting “the store come to the people”, TESCO realized that “we could change their waiting time into shopping time”, which had the practical outcome of increasing online sales by 130%.

Watching the crowds waiting for the next train reminded me of a typical scene during most conferences’ opening: the registration area. Not only most people don’t like to wait for picking up their badge, but often they also stress-up and start generating bad rep/buzz (e.g. through social media) and enter your event with a negative feeling.

These are a few ideas that came to mind to make shift that painful waiting time into something [more] useful to the attendees:

  1. Improv-Networking: have staff-moderators stimulate those in the queue to introduce themselves to the person in front and behind of them. Benefit: you now know two people at the conference!
  2. Program Info: deliver the printed program  (if you have one) as soon as people enter the queue so they can catch up on what will happen during the event. Benefit: they will be busy checking out who’s speaking when, where are the rooms located, etc
  3. Useful Info: provide useful information like wi-fi user/password so participants can setup their mobiles/tablets while waiting. This could be done through self-standing computer screens that rotate the useful information. Benefit: attendees will spend a few of the waiting time in configuring their phone and won’t have to ask later on for this info
  4. Mobile Coat-Room: instead of having people queueing twice (once to pick up their badge, twice to check-in their coat or luggage), have mobile hanging structures near to the queue so that the staff of the coat room can already pick up coats and luggage that will be then carried to the “real” coat room. Benefit: after they pick up their badge, participants will be ready to enter the event and don’t have to queue twice
  5. Self-Service Coffee: place tall tables with coffee, cups (a la Starbucks, with the appropriate lid), sugar, spoons, etc so that attendees can pour themselves coffee while waiting in line. Benefit: make the wait more pleasurable by bringing the breakfast to the participants where they actually are

Can you think of any other tactics to transform boring waiting time into useful attendee-friendly time? Please share it in the comments below!


Hat tip to Ines for showing me the Homeplus Korea video.

Previous post:

Next post: