Blog FPO
By: Savannah Phillips | Feb, 26 2020

Top 5 Ideas to Make Conferences More Fun for Attendees

This guest blog post is by Savannah Phillips, a marketing intern with Naylor Association Solutions.

Your association’s annual conference is likely one of the most anticipated events of the year for your members. The opportunities for networking and learning at these events seem endless… If you can keep your attendees engaged with fun, unique activities.

There are an abundance of reasons why you should make things enjoyable for your attendees. At the very bottom line, you owe it to your members to make their conference experience worth the registration fees. You want your members to feel like the money they are spending to be a part of your association is  worth every penny – especially if you want them to renew their memberships next year.

Besides giving your members their money’s worth, you should also consider adding more fun conference activities into your event schedule to break up the more serious meetings, education presentations and certification courses. If your conference contains the same less-than-fun activities year after year, you will experience more attendee attrition as time goes on. This means you will have to work even harder to fill your attendee quota with new people. You also want a healthy mix of veteran and new attendees at your event because the chance to network face-to-face with seasoned professionals is one huge reason that newbies decide to attend conferences, and vice versa.

So, without further ado, here are the top five fun conference activities that are sure to make your next event more fun and keep attendees coming back year after year:

1. Early-morning exercise classes or stress-relief gatherings

Giving your attendees the opportunity to start their days with a little “me time” will put them in the right head space for the rest of the conference. This early-morning activity could be a Yoga, Pilates or Zumba class exclusively for conference attendees. It could also be a stress-relieving event such as guided meditation, playtime with puppies, or even coloring by the pool (yes, adults like to color too). Whichever you choose to implement, having an early morning activity like one of these puts your attendees in a positive mood going into the first day of the conference, even if it has nothing to do with your event’s theme.

2. Chalkboard wall

Having a giant chalkboard message center is a fun way to increase interactions and networking between your attendees. It can be used to write positive, inspirational messages, or it can be used as a way for guests to write and respond to each other about various things. The chalkboard wall can stay up for the entirety of the event and attendees can stop by at their leisure.

3. Events unique to the conference’s city

Chances are, the majority of your attendees will have traveled some distance from home to attend your event. Why not let them explore some of the city you’re hosting it in? One way you can do this is by joining with a local travel agency to host activities like a bike tour of the city or a visit to a popular art museum. BONUS: Give back to your conference’s host city by organizing a charitable activity like having attendees pack backpacks with donated school supplies for students or making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a local food pantry. Charity-related activities like these will give your guests a chance to see more of the city while also giving back to the community.


Hosting a late-night party is a great way for your guests to unwind and have a little fun while also getting to know each other better. Depending on what your association is celebrating, you can brainstorm a theme that coincides with the party. For example, if you’re association is celebrating its 70th anniversary, the party could be disco themed. Disco = 70s! Your decorations, music and photo booth can all contribute to this theme. Encourage your guests to dress to the theme to make it even more interactive.

5. Concerts

If your association has a large enough budget, consider booking a musical headliner for your conference. ASAE featured Brad Paisley and John Legend at their annual conference last year. Other associations have hosted artists like Pitbull and Capital Cities at their events. If this caliber of activity is an affordable option for your association, it may even attract more attendees. And no one will choose to forego the evening activity that night!

Whether you implement one or all of these suggestions, you and your attendees are sure to have more fun with the new addition at your next event. When your attendees are having fun, they feel like they’re getting the most out of their membership dues. And when your members feel like they’re getting more value out of their dues, they’re more likely to renew next year. These fun conference activities will be enjoyable AND favorable for your association.

Virtual Game On! Gamification for Virtual Meetings

Discover new ways to engage your attendees at your next virtual meeting! Here are some suggestions for games you can create in minutes with your current event technologies!

Read More >

Leveraging Technology in Virtual Facilitations

​We have entered a “new normal” where much of our facilitation work is being done in the virtual environment. This leads to new challenges and barriers, but also opportunity. There are a vast number of options of new or under-utilized technologies we can begin to leverage - let’s explore a few of them.

Read More >

The Show Can Still Go On

​The association industry has seen many events canceled or postponed in the past three months, but, thanks to virtual learning, the show can still go on. Follow these steps to get your virtual show on the road.

Read More >

Are Virtual Meetings Long-Term?

In March, when the coronavirus began to spread in the U.S and cancellations increased, industry experts were questioning how our industry could still provide a service. They anticipated that this might be the new normal. We faced the question all companies in our industry faced, is now the time to invest in a virtual meeting infrastructure?

Read More >

Virtual and Hybrid Conference Presentations - Where Time and Space are No Longer Finite

​Time and space become less finite in a virtual event. Let’s use it to our advantage, not as a fall-back. Let’s take the time to produce content that our attendees want to consume and engage with. Let’s seek out the best presenters from our diverse world. Let’s invite those that could never afford to attend to join in. Let’s learn more than we could before - and dive in deeper than we ever have. As event planners, as we wished for less confinement in space and time before, we should embrace the virtual and hybrid options as they give us exactly that. Embrace the infinite possibilities!

Read More >

A Microsite is Your Association’s One-Stop Content Hub

​Your website is one of the most valuable communications tools your association has for reaching members and providing them with need-to-know information. There are times, however, when your association’s content needs to stand alone and serve a specific purpose or audience. Those times call for a microsite. Here are some instances when a microsite can put the proper focus on your content.

Read More >