Conference Insider Tips for Fantastic Franchise Conventions – Part 2

At IFA in January, I again had the wonderful opportunity to co-facilitate (with Marcus Johnson, Reno/Tahoe Visitors Bureau) a Business Solutions Roundtable and listened to some of the most successful franchisors talk about their convention successes. From those conversations grew a slew of valuable conference tips—and here’s Part 2!

Conference Tips:

  • Provide time for franchisees to network, share with each other (studies show this is their #1 desire at a convention). Consider structuring “big buddies” to facilitate mentoring new franchisees with superstars.
  • During planning always ask yourself, what do you want your franchisees to: think, feel, say and do as it relates to the convention as a whole AND in each activity or session.
  • When choosing a theme, relate to your learning objectives and then weave throughout the event and if possibly throughout the year!
  • Utilize pre-event survey for content building.
  • When sending out RFP to various CVBs, in addition to dates, let them know of your theme, desire for off-site activities and other details. They are a great resource for what is going on in the area, and can help you negotiate rates and rate structures.
  • Delegate content and learning objectives to a franchisee conference committee. Even 100% of content!
  • 50/50 franchisor/franchisee driven topics/content
  • Use video teaser prior to event—from corporate office, guest speakers, and your CVB
  • Getting the right speaker is critical to tie into your theme, your learning objectives and your system culture.
  • Be sure to put ‘cushions’ of time within the timeline to help stay on track with your schedule. Make sure your team is in agreement and fully onboard, understanding the importance of staying on time.
  • Break out learning tracks by unit sales. Get your high producing franchisees together and let them learn from each other.
  • Have franchisees wear KPIs on nametags.
  • Use a production company! We waited until we had 2,000 attendees and wish that we had done this way sooner!
  • “Speed-dating” with franchisees to create connections.
  • Gamification – by using game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts you can make the learning fun. Tortal Training has some great information on this concept.
  • Apps – Research available apps that can engage attendees on site. Franchisors at our tables seemed to be firmly on one side of this idea or the other. Some absolutely did not want to invest in or utilize a convention/meeting app feeling like it encouraged franchisees to disengage and get hooked back into their technology. Others felt the apps were useful in getting the franchisees to participate moment by moment.
  • Advice was offered to a couple of emerging brands regarding fees for attending event. The seasoned pros at our table suggest that you ‘start like you want to finish’ and charge for attending the convention right away. The consensus was that it’s easier to set the precedent and maintain it than to begin charging for the meeting further down the road.
  • When planning event agenda, “Pack Your Bag Then Take 5 Things Out!” In other words, prune your list. Be careful not to over schedule or try to get too much information across! Don’t overwhelm your franchisees.
  • Give opportunity for franchisees to win something. Make it fun in some way. One idea was raffle tickets in their registration bags and requiring the franchisees to be present to win!   Good tool when in a destination city like Cancun or Las Vegas if the franchisor is having trouble getting the franchisees to stay engaged as the convention progresses.
  • One franchisor is trying “family style” food options to address dietary needs. Historically has experienced complaints re: food options because the multi-cultural composition of his system.
  • Franchisees had a hard time sitting through breakouts, so switched to “museum” format and had them flow through different learning centers:
  • Content experts around room in uniform (for easy identification) providing tactical information.
  • Franchisees circulate freely.
  • Perhaps track attendance to all areas with an app and give prizes for the most engaged.
  • Ideal to only have 8-10 people at once with content expert.
  • Allow for Q&A.

And, of course, I ALWAYS love to hear from you. Let me know if you have something to add to this discussion and I’ll include it in Part 3 of the series.

More soon…


P.S. If you want to jump ahead, or if you missed Part 1, check out our entire IFA Fantastic Franchise Conventions Business Solutions Roundtable Tips, which includes all the notes from our sessions!

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