Insider Notes on Innovative Franchise Conventions

Innovation is great, but proven, fresh ideas from other franchisors about their conventions…that’s awesome, right?

In January, I again had the wonderful opportunity to co-facilitate (with Marcus Johnson, Reno/Tahoe Visitors Bureau) a Business Solutions Roundtable at IFA and listened to some of the most successful franchisors talk about their convention successes. The sessions were lively, fun and filled with valuable ideas!

Over the next few months, SPEAK! will be doing a series of tips gathered from these discussions and more—all about making the most of your next franchise convention! This week, we’re talking Innovative Convention Ideas, but again, all of these ideas have been tried and excitedly recommended!

We hope you find some of these useful!

Innovative Convention Ideas:

  • Disseminate theme well beforehand and create a competition for a 90-second event video submitted by franchisees. These videos were then utilized promotion. The creativity was fantastic and the competition was a huge success!
  • Always utilize huge kick-off – Close doors prior to opening session, holding people outside with loud music playing. Franchisees entered to red carpet, paparazzi, staff lined up to shake hands/hugs as franchisees entered. (Plan in extra time, hugs took a while. 🙂 )
  • Live voting for following year’s event location, based on 4 pre-determined options. The voting ended in a 2-way tie after allotted time. After another 2 minute, live voting session, it again ended in a tie and entered into a third live voting session. People were shouting and cheering as the numbers came in—fantastic energy! And everyone knows how and why next year’s venue was chosen and had a blast doing it.
  • Utilize interview format (Today Show) where applicable to break up “talking head” syndrome.
  • Have leadership team do a skit. Shows them getting real and having fun!
  • Night before conference started was a concert. Brand had reserved seating area in a private tent. It bonded the group together in a strictly fun environment, and set tone for a much more relaxed, interactive and collaborative experience for the rest of the convention.
  • Parade of States – Similar to political conventions. Franchisees choose music, costumes, walk in “dance”. Create a competition. This is really fun and helpful in bonding franchisees with those in same states. Make sure it ends up on social media to for FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)! J
  • Use of a “soft, throwable microphone” to bring levity to Q&A or audience participation. (See “resources” at the end for link to one option.)
  • Use of puppet (Jack Fiala was recommended as an option.) Very useful for “touchy subjects”. Puppet can banter, argue with C-suite and can endear exec to the crowd.  🙂 
  • Similarly, animated brand characters that can emcee your event recommended by Katrina
  • Brought in a local church choir.
  • Brought in local High School drum corps chanting the brand’s name as they marched in. Super high energy. Similar idea, brought in a local bagpipe band with Irish dancers. Another utilized trumpeters announcing entrance of franchisees.
  • Utilize a house band.
  • For big convention, have regionals delivered as live web-casts to local movie theatres to make it a fun event for franchisees, employees and managers who are not attending the convention.   While the teams were at the movie theaters, they sampled new menu items and tested new products.
  • Off-site activities – menu of options provided. A few ideas were: NASCAR (popular!!), spa, wine-tasting. One franchisor whose convention included a trip to the Officer’s Club at Miramar, watched Top Gun with popcorn as a lead up to the visit.
  • Last night = no business! One idea was a themed dress up party. Franchisor provided online ordering of costumes, delivered to hotel to make it super easy and add to participation—100% compliance! Believes that people let their hair down when dressed up.
  • Convention was centered on a product launch. A new product hologram was created when the product was not ready. Huge reveal. Some thought the hologram was real, until it disappeared! People are still talking about this!

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 2 of the series.

More soon…


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

  • Marina Leos

    Thanks for sharing these great tips! Looking forward to part 2.

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