As a meeting or conference planner, you understand the importance of identifying the target audience for your event. However, events that are open to a range of ages, abilities, and interests have unique challenges. It's one thing to plan a conference for adults and quite another to plan one for children. So, what do you do when both adults and children are at the same event, and all ages need to be accommodated?
Tackle this is by planning every aspect of the event with both parents and children in mind. For instance, while parents attend a scheduled lecture, children should be invited to gather for games or a presentation appropriate for their developmental level. Sure, that seems logical enough, but be intentional about keeping these types of adjustments top of mind as you plan your event. Go the extra mile during the planning process to ensure that parents, children, and family units have plenty to keep them engaged.
For the children who are at your event, here are six ways you can keep them interested and engaged. Their experience should be safe, full of fun opportunities, and filled with memory making. When ideas like these are implemented, your event will be one that families will want to attend again.
1. Provide child care
Offering child care at your venue provides an alternative to having children suffer through long, adult-driven meetings, and it prevents the speaker and other attendees from being distracted.
Parents appreciate having the option to take their children to a kid-friendly play area with appropriate staffing. When parents know their children are safe and having fun, they can return to their meeting with peace of mind and the freedom to give full attention to the presentation.
Plan to set up a designated kids’ zone that offers care for both younger and older children with age-appropriate games and entertainment. Hire an insured child care company or recruit qualified volunteers that have state and federal clearances in order to make the experience safe, fun, and memorable.
2. Offer family portrait sessions
It's helpful for children to see themselves as a valued and important part of that family unit. Plus, who doesn't want to remember a fun family event? One way to do this is by offering family portraits. You can bring in a photographer - either professional or amateur - and offer families mini sessions or a single take-home portrait.
Another option is setting up a photo booth and supplying a few silly or funny props to use in the pictures. Children will love to show their goofy and fun photos with others. Seek out photo booth companies near your venue or consider renting one. Some booths have technology that can send photos via email. If that's the case, older children and parents may like the option of sharing their photos immediately on their social networks—including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
3. Schedule a movie night
Figure out the logistics for setting up a viewing screen, sound system, and projector. To make it more exciting, choose a theme and think of creative ways to weave it into the night, invite families to come in their PJs, offer free popcorn or snacks, and plan to hand out a few surprise giveaways.
4. Factor in family time
What’s the point of a family-friendly event without putting family time on the agenda? Help attendees and their families unwind with stress-free, pre-planned activities. Planning activities like a fireworks show or a campfire, hiring live entertainment like an illusionist, or organizing a concert featuring kid songs can create family memories that your guests are sure to cherish long after the event has ended.
5. Provide fun treats
Help younger guests feel welcome at events by adding a few special touches. You could offer each child a goody bag or provide something as simple as a delicious, kid-friendly treat like s'mores. Find out if your budget will allow for a build-your-own ice cream sundae bar or a cookie decorating table complete with icing and sprinkles.
6. Provide a range of recreational activities
Make sure there are plenty of recreational options available. Options could include a playground, sandbox, or sports courts and fields. Even having access to a gym would provide adequate space for games and physical activity. Most places have indoor and outdoor pools that are available for guest use.
While some venues have many onsite options, others may not. Look beyond your venue to see what options are in the community. Perhaps you could get discounted tickets to a local farm team baseball game or take a trip to the local roller skating rink. Look at all the options onsite and offsite, then communicate to your attendees what options are available to them.
Book your next meeting or conference at Sandy Cove
If you're seeking a venue for a meeting or conference that will include 30 or more people, and you need onsite lodging, meals, and meeting space, consider Sandy Cove. We’re a top-notch, all-inclusive Christian ministry center that’s committed to connecting your group to God and each other. We can provide everything you need for your conference, retreat, or family reunion, including lodging, meals, and indoor and outdoor recreational activities. (And we're kid-friendly!)