The philosopher George Santayana famously wrote: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It’s hardly the most cheerful of lines. But what if we look at it a little differently? Suppose we were to modify things a bit: “Those who cannot remember how they came by their success will find it hard to be successful in the future.” Not a quote that is destined to become a classic, perhaps, but it allows me to illustrate an important point.
Philosophical musing aside, the issue of planning for the future is one that every conference and event organizer should take seriously. We certainly do. One of the most valuable ways Sea to Sky helps its clients is by allowing them to retain organizational knowledge. The need for this service is not hard to see. Many of the international associations we work with move their annual meeting from country to country and these events are sometimes directed by local volunteers who are involved only as a one-off. In these situations knowledge and expertise is easily lost from one event to the next.
As conference organizers, what can we do about it? The answer is to go out of our way to demonstrate the value of the event and provide a detailed report when it’s over. Even if the client does not specifically request it, a strategic approach to the process is essential. So when Sea to Sky organizes any event we set objectives, create a plan to achieve them and then produce a final report to demonstrate our commitment to exceeding our clients’ expectations.
Besides summarizing the framework, objectives, and content of the conference or event, a good final report should provide statistical information on things like demographics, registration, and hotel room pick up. It should demonstrate how the aims of the meeting were achieved, outline the results and make recommendations for improvement next time round.
At Sea to Sky we do this not only to make sure we’re delivering a healthy return on investment, but because we know how much the next conference organizer will value the information we provide.
When we submit final reports after a big conference or event it’s often the first time our clients have ever had a comprehensive document that the next volunteer committee or event planner can reference. We’re never worried about doing ourselves out of a job. On the contrary, we’re confident that people appreciate our commitment to sharing information and knowledge. And we know that we’re demonstrating the value of our expertise to the people who hired us.
Nobody can predict the future, no matter how much they remember the past (even our old friend George Santayana would no doubt have admitted that). But this doesn’t mean we should not be prepared. By producing effective final reports for your events, you can dramatically increase the chances of future success.