Face-to-face conferences are back - thankfully! If you’re like me, you value the chance to learn, in-person, from the leaders in your industry, discover the latest trends and best practices, and connect with peers and prospects.
Next up on Vya’s event calendar is the Franchise Customer Experience Conference (FCXC), in Atlanta, June 20-23. This event is the first from a new collaboration between the International Franchise Association and Franchise Update Media. The two organizations announced in January that they are partnering on multiple events over the next 10 years. FCXC combines Franchise Update Media’s Franchise Marketing Leadership Conference with IFA’s Operations and Marketing and Information Technology Conferences. This should be a high-value event!
I find it’s always helpful to do a little advance planning to make sure you get all you can out of your conference investment. Here are a few tips that our team will be using to make the most of our time at FCXC.
Identify All Your Reasons for Attending FCXC – And Be Specific.
- Your goals. Whether you’re trying to tackle a particular marketing challenge, wanting to improve your customer experience, looking for new partners, or researching new technologies, it’s important to define what you want to accomplish at FCXC. With your goals defined, you can prepare a strategy and action plan to focus your efforts. Having measurable goals will also help you gauge the ROI of your event attendance.
- People you want to meet. Once you define your goals, you can move on to identifying who you should meet to support those goals. Use the attendee list and networking tools to research potential contacts and, if appropriate, reach out in advance of FCXC to introduce yourself.
- People you want to reconnect with. FCXC is a great opportunity to continue to nurture relationships with peers, industry leaders, and partners. Reach out in advance of the event to re-introduce yourself, say you’re looking forward to seeing them at the show, and if appropriate schedule a meet-up to catch up.
- Vendors you want to visit. Make time to visit the exhibit hall. If you’re researching new marketing or customer experience solutions for your organization, this is your chance to meet with multiple vendors to help in your decision process. Even if you are not actively researching solutions, plan some time to visit the exhibit area. Sponsors offer more than the financial support that makes an event like FCXC possible. They are a valuable part of the conference experience. With the right approach, you can learn just as much by talking with vendors as you can in the sessions. The exhibit area is a convenient forum for quickly meeting several vendors and getting a one-stop look at the market landscape. To make sure you see the vendors who are most relevant for your needs, scan the list of sponsors in advance, and flag those you want to visit.
Plan Your FCXC Schedule
- Study the agenda. Conferences like FCXC are buzzing with activity from start to finish. The conference has three concurrent tracks, so you’ll need to make some choices on sessions to attend. To avoid being overwhelmed, don’t wait until you arrive in Atlanta to review the conference agenda. Familiarize yourself in advance with what is happening when so you can prioritize the sessions, networking opportunities and adjacent activities and events you wish to attend. FCXC enables registered attendees to customize the agenda online by flagging your interests and highlighting your registered sessions. In addition, they will be releasing an app as the conference draws near.
- Create a daily schedule. Start each morning with a plan. Know where you need to be at what time for relevant sessions, scheduled meet-ups, exhibit hall hours and activities. This will keep you focused on your objectives. At the same time, remain flexible so you can take advantage of unexpected networking and learning opportunities.
- Build in recovery time. You want to maximize your time at FCXC. But be careful not to overextend. Build some recovery time into your daily schedule so you remain alert and energized for the next session or networking opportunity. This could be as simple as taking a brief quiet break in a lounge area or your hotel room or stepping outside for some fresh air and a short walk.
- Weather. You need to know what to pack to look professional and be comfortable, so check the forecast before you go. Atlanta in June can be warm. The average high temperature is 87 degrees and the average low is 65 degrees, with an average of 8 days of rain per month. (At the same time, it can be chilly inside the venue so bring layers.)
- Happenings and attractions. After you’ve mapped out your conference schedule, you may find you have some time available to take in a local event. Or, maybe you want to add on a day or two to your conference trip. Check out the Atlanta Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and other local websites for the latest events and attractions.
- Destinations near the hotel. You may not have a lot of time for a major excursion, so look for destinations that are near the conference hotel. The InterContinental Buckhead provides helpful information on “Things to Do in Atlanta.”
Counting Down to FCXC
FCXC kicks off in less than a month. Now is a great time to start planning for a successful conference experience! For those of you who are attending the event, I look forward to the chance to meet you in person. I hope you will stop by the Vya exhibit table or look me up on the attendee list. Connect with me now on LinkedIn and I’ll see you in Atlanta!