Conference extras may be most beneficial part of the event
Primarily social in nature, the extracurricular activities at a conference are perhaps the most rewarding and valuable parts of any conference.
Regardless of industry, there is never a shortage of conferences to attend in any given year. There is one main constant that is the most valuable part of each experience….the networking and extracurricular activities.
Networking and relationship building is always important, especially in a conference setting. Networking done in the conference setting provides a level of richness and authenticity to the experience on more of a social level which tends to stay with someone far beyond the closing speaker.
For example, the Pure Michigan Governors Conference on Tourism, held annually, boasts several tracks to suit the needs and desires of various attendees. With over 1,000 attendees, there must be a lot going on to keep everyone engaged, but how does the conference lend itself to collaboration and networking? The answer is simple: provide time to network and offer extracurricular excursions that tap into the intrinsic desires of some attendees who may not find value in the more traditional types of connecting style events.
What this particular conference does, and should do considering the industry it serves, is exploit some of the tourism opportunities available in the host community. In 2014, this conference was held in Traverse City, located in beautiful Northwestern Lower Michigan. With a richness and world renowned wine industry, the conference has offered a winery bus tour the day before the conference opens. Also, a brewery bus tour has been offered to showcase a few of the local breweries and Michigan beers that are produced in the area. Both of these types of excursions offer a social opportunity for some attendees who find value in this type of interaction.
Be sure to take advantage of the social opportunities to connect with colleagues and other professionals when attending conferences, because those are the experiences that can have a significant professional and perhaps personal value for your career well beyond the conference.
Michigan State University Extension is connected to organizations and communities in many ways throughout the state and has staff involved in a variety of conferences and events throughout the year. For events and conferences which you may be interested in, please check out the MSU Extension Events Calendar.