Golden Jubilee Conference Hotel Director Bronagh Bell has retired after almost 16 years’ service – and over 25 years in the public sector.
Bronagh joined the organisation in late August 2006 during its time as the ‘Beardmore Hotel’.
Appointed to deliver a new strategy that focused on transforming the hotel into a Centre of Excellence for conferences and meetings, mainly for the NHS and public sector, Bronagh has delivered NHS Golden Jubilee’s vision to create a venue that has become an integral part of NHSScotland.
“I was recruited to deliver the strategy. A lot of that involved a change in direction and change of focus from the original concept of an ordinary 4 star hotel to focus on conferences, meetings, training and events. There was a lot of change management, not only with the team but with the facilities and services as well.”
Before being appointed as the Director of Golden Jubilee Conference Hotel, Bronagh worked in marketing, predominantly in the public sector.
Originally from Northern Ireland, Bronagh has experience working in hospitality from a young age, learning invaluable lessons in business and customer service from her father.
“I learned the fundamentals of business at the kitchen table from my father. When I came to the Beardmore, some of the things that he taught me back then in the 70’s about customer service came back to me. I had a very different career before and this was certainly more customer facing.”
“Before coming to the Hotel, my entire career was in marketing. One of my big passions was events, particularly for teachers.
“When I heard about this role I thought this is an opportunity to go from the people that organise everything to the people that deliver it. It gave me a critical perspective and understanding of what is needed to provide successful events.
“One of the things I’ve enjoyed as part of this 25 years of working in the public sector is that any income generated has been ploughed back into the public sector, originally in Education and now in Healthcare.
“I like that virtuous circle; it’s been a fantastic way to end my career helping re-invest in public services.”
Bronagh’s passion for delivering the strategy and vision of the Hotel has helped to create and uphold an award-winning Venue of Excellence, welcoming guests and delegates from across the world.
Although hospitality venues have experienced hardship over the years, the Golden Jubilee Conference Hotel has continued to thrive, adapt and excel, winning Scottish Conference Hotel of the Year several times.
Delivering the Golden Jubilee Conference Hotel vision has included renovation projects, from successfully remodelling reception to create a Central Plaza, the refurbishment of hotel bedrooms and many other projects that have provided the Hotel with extra space and modern upgrades.
Bronagh commented: “In recent years, we have undertaken huge remodelling to revitalise the space that has allowed our delegates and guests to mingle and network whilst also giving us the space to provide physical distancing measures during COVID-19.
Throughout her time as Director, Bronagh has dedicated her time to ensuring her staff fulfil their full potential, including during lockdown, where staff were redeployed to assist NHSScotland.
“I’m proud of our team for raising the bar year on year, through awards, services and profitability. I am also proud of keeping the passion and focus around the vision and strategy and believing we can do it.
“During the pandemic I was extremely proud of the way we were able to flex the team to work in other areas.
“There was a team that worked with NHS Louisa Jordan doing fantastic support work, there were staff that worked all across the Hospital and we had a number of staff remain in the hotel to provide meeting facilities for the healthcare service.”
Bronagh has led a dedicated team and created memories that she will cherish forever.
“They are a wonderful bunch of people who are really dedicated to what they do. I would like them all to follow their life dreams and to develop their careers.
“I would like to say thank you, it’s been an absolute privilege working with all of the team, particularly the team that have been there from the beginning, they’ve stuck by, and trusted me and I hope they all have bright futures.
“We know the old saying if you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life and I think that’s been the case with most of my time at the Hotel. I have been very lucky to have worked with some wonderful people throughout my career. There’s fantastic people in the Jubilee across the Hotel and the Hospital.”
Jann Gardner, Chief Executive of NHS Golden Jubilee, commented:
“‘Over the past 15 years, Bronagh has played a significant role in developing the Conference Hotel into the outstanding Venue of Excellence it is today.
“The facilities and staff have become key in hosting NHS and healthcare conferences, training days and events as well as providing accommodation for patients and their families from across Scotland. Thank you Bronagh for your dedication to Team Jubilee and I wish you a very happy and healthy retirement.”
A new year often marks a new beginning for many people and staff at the Golden Jubilee Conference Hotel are delighted to welcome several new team members who have joined our award winning Hotel team for 2022.
Sharon Smith (pictured below) has recently joined as Front Office Host following an 8-year career at Glasgow’s One Devonshire Gardens. With extensive experience in hospitality, Sharon has worked in a range of roles, including some time living and working in Turkey. Sharon has always enjoyed the variety hotel life offers – ‘It allows me the opportunity to speak with different people every day and no two days are the same.’
The Events Team welcomed a new Event Planner, Lisa Bunton. Lisa joins us from Hilton Glasgow Grosvenor and has over 20 years’ hospitality experience. Moving to Events from a Front Desk Role, Lisa is enjoying her new challenge working in the busy team who ensure that all meetings and events go to plan. ‘I really enjoy working in the hospitality sector as you get to meet so many interesting people from all over the world and never stop learning new things.’
We have also welcomed 5 new staff members to our Restaurant and Banqueting team. Erin Gallacher, Liam Gangel, Alex Spina (middle main picture) and George McCallion have started recently as Food & Beverage Hosts. Ross McFarlane, our new Food & Beverage Supervisor, joined the team at the end of 2021 and has worked previously for Leonardo Hotels and Greene King. Settling into his new role well, Ross said ‘I am delighted to have joined the Golden Jubilee team, everyone has made me feel welcome. I am looking forward to helping the team to reach their full potential and delivering a top class restaurant service to all our guests.’
And, in our Centre for Health & Wellbeing, two new Health Club Attendants have taken up posts or ‘transferred’ as they say in football parlance! Nathan Mackie (right main picture), previously Chef de Partie in the Hotel Kitchen, started his new position in January and we are thrilled that Aiden McCann (left main picture) has joined the squad as a permanent member of the team.
A very warm welcome to all of our new starts. We look forward to the wealth of experience they will bring to the Hotel in their new roles and are confident that each and every one of them will develop their careers further in the Golden Jubilee Conference Hotel.
Finally, the hotel has reached the end of an era as our Director, Bronagh Bell, retires after being with us for 16 years. Bronagh has had an extensive career and has led the Beardmore and Golden Jubilee Conference Hotel from strength to strength since starting in 2006. A well-known face, Bronagh will be missed by colleagues, not only within NHS Golden Jubilee but across the wider NHS Scotland network and also within the UK events industry. Bronagh is looking forward to travelling when she leaves us at the end of February. We wish her all the very best in her retirement.
Bronagh said, ‘It has been an honour and a privilege to lead the Hotel since 2006. I have had the great pleasure of working with some of the finest people in the industry. It has been fantastic to see the Hotel develop as a world-class centre of excellence for conferences, meetings and events. I know that it will continue to go from strength to strength with the hard work and vision of the amazing team I leave behind.’
The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the way that we live and work upside down and the last 18 months have been like no other, particularly for the hospitality and events industry.
Here at the Golden Jubilee Conference Hotel, we are reflecting on the journey that we have taken throughout the pandemic and are grateful to be finally emerging into the ‘new normal’.
In March 2020, the Golden Jubilee Conference Hotel, like many hotels up and down the country, closed its doors as the country was plunged into lockdown. Little did we think that our doors would remain closed to the wider public until July 2021!
During this time, our Sales and Events teams were quickly put to work contacting conference clients and rescheduling dates, reassuring organisers that we would work with them to help their event take place safely when they were ready to return.
Technical co-ordinator, James Perrie, was working hard behind the scenes, researching developments in conference technology and upgrading our meeting room facilities to allow for virtual and hybrid meetings to take place. We now have a range of options available, from hosting a 1:1 interview via Skype or a fully virtual conference streamed online. For more information, see our brochure for details.
Some of our operational team members across the hotel embraced a range of roles across the NHS from working in other hotel departments to being redeployed to support our colleagues within NHS Golden Jubilee and NHS Louisa Jordan. Emma Finlayson, Event Planner, said ‘My time at NHS Louisa Jordan was hugely rewarding. It was great to adapt my skills to a new role and felt like I was giving back to the NHS at such an important time.’
Finally, in May 2021, the Golden Jubilee Conference Hotel was given the go-ahead to begin a phased re-opening. We carefully considered each area of the hotel and put measures in place which allowed us to welcome guests and conference delegates back in the safest way possible.
With the option to offer socially distanced meeting capacities and sanitation kits in place in each of our meeting rooms, rest assured that it is safe to meet with us. We have made changes to our food and drink offering, giving the choice for more in-room dining for both hotel guests and in meeting rooms for delegates to minimise contact in public areas. Tea & coffee stations are now located in all meeting rooms and we have introduced individually wrapped food items and environmentally friendly single use products to help reduce contamination. Our Housekeeping team are also hard at work with enhanced hygiene measures in place throughout the hotel.
To find out more about what steps we are taking to keep you safe, visit our Covid-19 Information Hub.
Our doors were able to fully re-open in July and we are slowly beginning to see things return to a new way of normal. Members of the Sales Team were even able to exhibit at the first Scottish events show since the pandemic in September and it has been great to see and speak to clients face to face again for the first time in months and hear about their future plans.
With Glasgow currently preparing to host the COP 26 Conference in November, there is lots to look forward to across the city and the team at the Golden Jubilee Conference Hotel are hopeful for the future and ready to welcome you back.
The Golden Jubilee Conference Hotel has once again, retained its AA 4-Star accreditation.
The NHS owned hotel located on the banks of the River Clyde impressed AA inspectors with its stylish and modern fixtures, offering guests a relaxing base to explore the surrounding areas, including Glasgow City Centre which is just a short train ride away.
Staff at the Golden Jubilee Conference Hotel left a lasting impression on the Inspector, with comments made about their exceptional level of service and hospitality from start to finish. The Hotel’s spacious and imposing public areas were also at the forefront of the accreditation, with the hotel restaurant ‘BBar and Grill’ awarded the AA Rosette Award for Culinary Excellence.
General Manager Denis Flanagan said: “We are delighted to have received our AA 4 Star accreditation, it’s a real testimony to all the hard work the team have shown especially throughout these last 18 months.
“Although the hotel was closed for much of the pandemic to prioritise the NHS, we made sure to use this time wisely. We have invested in technology to ensure that all of our conference rooms are safe and comfortable to meet, as well as upgrading many of our bedrooms.”
The Hotel re-opened its doors to the public in early July and continues to go from strength to strength, offering first class services to guests and delegates.
Find out more about us www.goldenjubileehotel.com
Clydebank’s Golden Jubilee Conference Hotel will reopen to the public on Thursday 1 July.
The staff are prepared and looking forward to welcoming guests back through the doors once more following the four-star venue’s closure due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Conference Hotel re-opened for NHS and healthcare staff on 24 May before opening to the wider public on 1 July.
General Manager Denis Flanagan said: “We are excited to welcome everyone back. This past year has been challenging for us all, but staff have continued to go above and beyond to do what they can to help health services in Scotland.
“Our Hotel team has shown their resilience and willingness to make a difference, with many being redeployed to NHS Louisa Jordan and throughout the Hospital in various roles, helping our clinical teams to continue delivering first class care to patients from all across Scotland.”
During its closure, the Conference Hotel has also undergone some exciting upgrades, including refurbished bedrooms and new technology in the conference rooms.
Denis added: “We have transformed quite considerably this last year. We’ve invested in technology within our conference rooms to ensure that we are safe to meet.
“It’s critical for us going forward. This technology really sets us apart from other venues and takes us to another level. We also have newly refurbished rooms for guests to enjoy.
“The team has been working extremely hard to do everything they can to support NHS staff in whatever way possible and having the hotel services back open to staff is warmly welcomed by all, providing some much anticipated social normality for everyone.”
The hotel is open for room and restaurant bookings to all.
Featuring fantastic deals such as the ‘Summer Sizzler’ and ‘The Great Staycation’ and with great transport links to Glasgow City Centre and outdoor havens like Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, the Golden Jubilee Conference Hotel has something for everyone.
Facilities open on Thursday 1 July from 12 noon with last entry at 8pm for drinks, teas and coffee, including coffee to go, and food.
To book your two-hour time slot in the restaurant, call 0141 951 6015
To book a bedroom, call 0141 951 6008 or visit www.goldenjubileehotel.com
Summer 2021 is set to be the Summer of the Staycation with many British holidaymakers exploring on their own doorstep instead of travelling abroad.
Situated only 20 minutes from Loch Lomond and also a short hop into Glasgow city centre, the Golden Jubilee Hotel is a perfect base for your Scottish Staycation, whether you wish to sample city life, the great outdoors or a mix of both.
Guests can enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep in one of our 168 spacious bedrooms, can sample delicious Scottish produce from our BBar & Grill Menus and make full use of our Centre for Health and Wellbeing consisting of gym, swimming pool and spa, all the while surrounded by picturesque views of the River Clyde and Kilpatrick Hills.
Located only 20 minutes from Glasgow airport and with free parking on-site, a short walk from Dalmuir train station and close to main bus routes, the Golden Jubilee Hotel has plenty of options, no matter how you choose to travel.
The city of Glasgow has lots to offer, from world class shopping on ‘The Style Mile’, a wealth of museums including the Glasgow Science Centre and Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery and a vibrant food and drink scene. Add to this, our world famous ‘People Make Glasgow’ hospitality and visitors are certain to receive a warm welcome wherever they go in the city. With frequent, direct trains from Dalmuir station and buses leaving regularly from Dumbarton Road, the Golden Jubilee is only a short ride away from Glasgow’s bustling city centre.
If you’d rather explore the countryside and take in some of the wonderful scenery that Scotland is famous for, the Golden Jubilee hotel is also well situated, with plenty to explore nearby. Our location north of Glasgow means that you don’t have to cross the city to start your journey, leaving you with more time to enjoy a lazy breakfast with us or allowing you to hit the road for an early start.
Loch Lomond & West Highlands
Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park is only a 20 minute drive from the hotel. Whether you have your sights set on bagging a Munro, or prefer a more peaceful activity such as a boat cruise, Loch Lomond has a range of activities and is home to stunning scenery and a wealth of wildlife.
For those who fancy heading further afield, the Golden Jubilee Hotel is an ideal starting point for a trip to the West Highlands, so why not start your West Highland adventure with us this summer?
The famous West Highland Way starts in our neighbouring town of Milngavie and is easily accessed via train from Dalmuir station. Stay with us for a quiet night’s sleep the day before and fuel up with a hearty Scottish breakfast before donning your walking boots and setting off on Scotland’s most popular walking route.
Additionally, Dalmuir train station is a stop near the start of the West Highland Railway line. Hop on a train direct and you could be in Oban, Fort William and Mallaig in a matter of hours. Sit back and relax whilst taking in the spectacular Scottish countryside from the comfort of your seat. There’s even a chance to experience the magical world of Harry Potter as the railway line passes over the iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct featured in the films and is a must-see for fans of all ages.
Whether you’d like a handy base for your Glasgow city break, or want to rest and relax before a venture further north, the Golden Jubilee Hotel has you covered for your summer Staycation. For more details of the range of things to do right on our doorstep, visit our website.
Why not take advantage of our Great Staycation special offer? For only £285.00, our staycation package includes 3 nights bed and breakfast in a double or twin room for two adults, a two course dinner on one night of choice, complimentary parking and unlimited use of our Centre for Health & Wellbeing. Families are also welcome, up to two children can be included at the cost of £5 per child. For bookings, or to find out more, click here or contact our Reservations Team on 0141 951 6008.
With the current landscape of meetings ever changing as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is understandable that conference organisers may be feeling lost when it comes to planning their next event.
Changing restrictions across the country and uncertainty over the next few months undoubtedly make it difficult to start the planning process. Additionally, the developments that have been made with hybrid and virtual events mean that organisers are left with more choice than ever about how their conference could be held – whether this is face-to-face, virtually, or a mix of both.
We’ve highlighted 3 key benefits of each to help you decide which format could work best for you.
Face to Face Events
With many in person events being rescheduled and postponed over the past year, there is a real desire for face to face events to re-start and to allow delegates to get together in the same room.
1. Enhanced Atmosphere
There is no denying that the buzz of an in-person event certainly offers a good atmosphere for all attendees. With less distractions, delegates can focus on the meeting content and are more likely to engage in sessions through face to face interaction. There are also more opportunities for social activities such as team building exercises or conference dinners.
2. Networking Opportunities
Although many web conference platforms have capacity for virtual networking and exhibition opportunities, it may be all too easy for delegates to avoid this in a virtual setting.
Attending meetings and conferences are a great way for like-minded people to come together, with networking often just as valuable as the meeting content itself.
3. Creating a Memory
Face to face events have the opportunity to create a lasting impact on attendees. The rounded experience of attending a conference with memorable keynotes, engaging breakouts and interacting with peers creates a memory and is more likely to be remembered than a series of on-line sessions.
With 15 versatile meeting spaces to choose from, the Golden Jubilee Conference Hotel has plenty of choice for your next face to face event. Find out more about our conference facilities here.
Hybrid events allow for a mix of in-person delegates to attend, whilst also reaching a virtual audience.
1. Best of Both Worlds
Hybrid meetings offer the best of both worlds, giving delegates the choice to participate in a way that works best for them. Organisers can still offer a face to face option for those who would like to attend in person, but aren’t excluding anyone who is unable to travel or would prefer to join remotely.
2. Reduced Resources
Reducing the number of in-person delegates will naturally reduce the amount of resources that a conference needs. With part of the audience joining online, hybrid events may not need the same size or number of meeting rooms as a face-to-face conference. Additionally, with less delegates attending at the venue, organisers will save on the costs of catering and producing conference consumables, such as delegate badges and pens etc.
3. Half way point in return to normality
In a time of uncertainty, hybrid events may be seen as the half way point in returning to normal life. Meeting room capacities may be reduced to allow for social distancing and localised travel restrictions may mean that delegates are unable, or perhaps unwilling to attend in person. A hybrid event will allow for a meeting to take place in some form and may be a good way for organisers to test the water before planning a fully face-to-face event.
To find out more about how we can help with your next hybrid event, view our Hybrid Meetings and Online Events brochure
With no in-person attendees, an online meeting is streamed to all participants wherever they may be.
1. Wider Reach
Organisers have the opportunity to reach a wider audience with a fully virtual event. Delegates may be more likely to attend online rather than travel a long distance. A virtual programme also offers the opportunity for participants to dip in and out of sessions, rather than committing to attending a full conference over one or two days.
2. On Demand Sessions
We consume most of our media on demand nowadays and conference and meeting content is no different. Virtual events can be recorded and watched back at leisure, meaning that attendees are no longer excluded if they are unable to attend on the day.
At the Golden Jubilee, speakers also have the opportunity to pre-record sessions in our studio space beforehand, ensuring a polished and professional presentation.
3. More sustainable
With less delegates travelling to attend in person, virtual events allow organisers to cut down on their carbon footprint. Less food provided will reduce food waste, and there is no need for single use items such as delegate badges and conference programmes – all working towards creating a greener, more sustainable planet.
At the Golden Jubilee Conference Hotel, we have the facilities to help with your next event, whatever format you choose. Get in touch with our Sales Team for more information on 0141 951 6003 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Golden Jubilee Conference Hotel is committed to offering a four-star dining experience to all of our delegates and guests. We have undertaken a thorough and extensive review to ensure that all aspects of our food service delivery continues to be safe.
The safety of our delegates is very important to us and the changes that we are putting in place will take into account physical distancing and enhanced hygiene measures, whilst also delivering our usual high quality service.
Food Safety Plan
1. Safety is the responsibility of everyone in our business and staff training is an invaluable method in helping our team understand their responsibility and how we can operate safely.
2. We will offer 3 different types of Food & Beverage service:
- Contact Free
- Limited Contact
- Normal Service
3. Reduced Menus – to recognise the availability of fresh, local ingredients and physical distancing within our kitchen.
4. Use of our mobile app to allow customers to order food and drink, minimising the need for printed menus
5. Increase our In room dining service offering
6. Sanitisation stations located in our restaurants, bar and lobby areas.
7. Promoting cashless transactions
For our conference delegates our contact-free food offering will consist of prepacked “grab and go” meals prepared by our team of award winning chefs using the best local produce. We will also offer our Bento box lunch as an alternative to allow for private in room conference dining.
Food at Home
Bored during lockdown? We’ve developed our most popular menu items into easy-to-follow recipes to allow you to sample at home. From Chocolate Brownies to Chilli Lime Chicken, what’s your favourite?
Food for Health
We believe in eating the right foods. Our team at the Centre for Health & Wellbeing has provided us with some simple tips to help us while we are working from home, home schooling and looking after loved ones.
- Drink plenty of fluids – staying hydrated can help increase our cognitive functions and allow us to be more alert
- Exercise more – even a simple brisk walk will help release endorphins, which is a natural chemical in our brains that helps us to feel good.
- Eat regularly – this keeps our metabolism active and can help prevent tiredness
- Eat your 5 portions of fruit and veg a day – they contain essential vitamins and minerals.
Event organisers have been turning to virtual meetings throughout the Coronavirus pandemic to stay connected with their delegates. With many people working from home and restrictions still in place for large conferences and events, we are adapting to new routines and ways of working. This should be considered when planning for a virtual event to ensure that delegates have the best possible experience when joining remotely.
Here are a few things to bear in mind when planning the content for a virtual meeting:
1. Shorter sessions
With face to face meetings, delegates are able to immerse themselves in the event. They have taken the time to travel to a venue, are surrounded by like-minded people and can take part with no distractions. Attention span is less with a virtual session – there are more distractions when joining from home or the office. Delegates are less likely to remain engaged with a programme of long keynote presentations in the same way. Keep sessions short – 30-45 minutes – to hold attention. With this in mind, it may be a good idea to look at the overall length of the event. Splitting the programme up to include 3-4 hours of content per day over a few days may prove to be more effective than one full day of sessions. Regular breaks are important too and will allow delegates to grab a coffee or check their email, helping them to be more focussed during sessions themselves.
2. Vary the content
Plan a range of different formats across sessions to help keep delegates interested. ‘Death by PowerPoint’ never goes down well during in person events and virtual meetings are no different. Organisers have the added bonus of being able to include pre-recorded material within a virtual event. Think about TV style content such as interview or talking head footage. Using breaks between sessions as advert breaks is also a good way to promote future events, share news or as a platform for sponsors to get involved. Don’t be afraid to get creative, think about how messages can be conveyed in a way delegates will remember.
3. Delegate engagement
It is important that delegates are still able to engage with a conference when joining in virtually. Make sure that each session has an opportunity for delegates to get involved. This can be done through polls or Q&As within plenary sessions, holding smaller discussion based workshops or simply using message boards to allow delegates to chat and engage with each other. Think about the various different ways delegates would participate in a face to face event and try to include as much of this as possible in a virtual programme. Whether these are ways that they can engage with the subject matter of the event or fun activities for energising or teambuilding such as an ice breaker activity to start the day or post-lunch yoga session. Attendees will benefit more from the event if they are able to feel part of it.
4. Easy navigation
Once the conference programme has been set – send this to delegates ahead of time, outlining clear learning objectives for each session. Delegates may be more likely to dip in and out of content when participating remotely, so make it easy for them to decide which sessions they want to attend. Just as signage is important within a venue, making it clear where each session is being held, navigation should be as easy as possible for virtual delegates. Include all of the relevant links and any joining passwords in advance to create a user friendly experience for remote attendees. Web links can also be included in holding slides within presentations or as ‘coming up next’ links between sessions.
By taking these things into consideration, delegates are more likely to stay focussed and feel involved throughout. If delegates are able to get the most that they can from attending an event remotely, then this will contribute to its overall success. For more tips on how a virtual element can be incorporated into your next event, read more of our blogs, here.
After such a long time confined to our own homes and our face to face social interaction limited to members of our own household, the postman and the supermarket cashier, we are craving social activities now more than ever.
The world of meetings and events is moving towards an increasing online presence. Whilst it is easy enough for speakers to present sessions through a virtual conference platform and even for Q&A sessions and panel discussions to be ran virtually, organisers may wonder if their event will be able to have the same social impact as a fully face to face event.
The social aspect of a conference is huge. It’s a chance for delegates to come together over a shared topic. The relationships that are built through collaboration and networking at these events are invaluable and many conference organisers incorporate a social programme complimenting the main learning.
Here are five things that can be done within a virtual programme to allow conference attendees to interact with one another:
1. Hybrid meetings
A hybrid event allows for a small number to meet in person, with the remaining delegation joining remotely. This would allow for a portion of delegates to socialise face to face and could network and even dine in the same way as pre-Covid 19. Think about joining small regional events together to allow delegates to meet locally, with a video link between each event.
2. Message boards
Why confine interaction to only during the conference? Creating message boards which go live a day or two before the event is a great way to get delegates talking beforehand and allows the conversation to continue throughout and even after the event. Creating a few separate boards for different topics or areas of the event may help discussions to flow. Delegates could also be encouraged to share their LinkedIn Profiles or a virtual business card to network with others.
3. Chat rooms
Most venues having lounges or social areas for delegates to come together informally throughout the course of an in-person event, why not create chat lounges for virtual delegates to do the same thing? These could also include slots for speakers to appear at specific times to answer any questions. This could be done through a video call so delegates can see and hear each other in real time, or take the form of a text chat.
4. Utilise break times
Delegates will still need to eat, even during an online event and organisers can use breaks in the programme to allow for delegates to come together. Coffee Catch Ups could be spaced in between sessions and delegates encouraged to join via video chat. Delegates could also be brought together over a ‘Virtual Lunch Table’ – group delegates together as you would when organising a table plan and ask them to dial in together at a certain time. You may want to think about inviting a speaker or board member to each table, and ensure a good mix of delegates in each group.
5. Keep it fun
Virtual events can still be fun! Think of the various elements that may be included in a conference dinner to help delegates to unwind and have fun together and incorporate these into an informal session at the end of the day. This could centre around a fun theme that delegates can get involved with at home. Plan a game or activity such as a virtual quiz or treasure hunt or share some expertise through a cookery, craft or dance demo. The possibilities are endless, from virtual versions of classic board games and online escape rooms to the more creative Murder Mystery Nights or Bake Off Challenges which really gets your delegates involved.
With both event organisers and delegate embracing new ways of communicating, these suggestions can help to ensure your next event brings delegates together until it is safe to meet face to face again.