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Cranmore Park Blog

Conferences are a great way to expand your knowledge of your industry. However, many people make the mistake of not making use of the full potential of the gatherings. If you turn up, put in the bare minimum of effort, absorb a few lectures and head home, you will not have taken advantage of a number of important features.

One of the most important aspects of attending a conference is that it brings together people from in and around your field. You might find people from similar firms to your own, your suppliers or your clients are all at the same conference as you, giving you the perfect opportunity to do some networking.

The Birmingham area has long been touted as one of the best places for conferences in the UK. Its relatively central location and good travel links make it easy to get to for international meetings, and there are many fantastic conference venues in and around the Birmingham and Solihull area that organisations can take advantage of.

If proof was needed of this, one needs look no further than recent statistics from Birmingham's hotel industry. The sector has seen a major boost in occupancy rates recently, and the number of conferences being held in the city is thought to be why.

Every business owner knows that keeping your employees happy with their careers is key to ensuring you have the best people working for you at all times. If you have an unmotivated workforce full of people who are convinced they are stuck in a dead-end job, you will soon end up losing them.

This is rarely a good thing. A high staff turnover looks bad for your company, discouraging the most talented people from applying for a job there. When you employ somebody with the potential to have a huge positive effect on your firm, you want to ensure they stick around rather than jetting off to another business.

A healthy worker is a happy worker. That is a fairly common maxim, but it is one with a great deal of truth to it. People who are fit and have a good diet are generally happier, which in turn makes them better at their jobs.

In fact, Thomsons Online Benefits managing director Chris Bruce just told HR Magazine: "Employees who regularly exercise are better at dealing with stressful situations and also feel energised. If you do this well customers can feel that energy in their interactions with your staff."

Every business is aware of the importance of training and continuous professional development, but the extent to which this is carried out appears to differ greatly when the perspectives of both companies and their workers are taken into account.

That is the key finding following two reports published by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) on workplace learning, one of which adopted the point of view of employers, and another which questioned their staff.

Working out the costs of trade show marketing is crucial for any business, one industry figure has claimed.

Charles Beshears, the president of National Trade Show Displays, told TSNN that these events "can be a very positive and lucrative experience" for many companies.

What's the first thing you are going to do when you get to a trade show? Before you start attracting people over to your stand and making sales, you will need to set it up. This is an area in which many companies fall down, as they are simply not prepared for how troublesome getting everything prepared can be!

If you don't get yourself set up in time, you can really lose out at a trade show. The first attendees will see you as disorganised and be put off coming over and seeing what you have to offer. Meanwhile, you will be stressed out and panicked all day, further affecting your overall success!

Running a training session can be fairly stressful on its own. Unless you are a teacher, most people will have never taught a group of people before. Starting from scratch is a challenge, but hopefully you will rise to the occasion. The problem is when your employers decide your session should be expanded into a company-wide programme.

If you are asked to do this, don't panic! You wouldn't be asked if you boss wasn't sure you were up to the challenge. However, you will need to develop a whole new set of skills to roll out a programme on this scale. You will need to learn a lot before you can even begin to teach!

If you're returning to the same trade show or exhibition year after year, it's crucial that you have something new to offer consumers.

It might be the case that you've launched new products or services over the last 12 months and are planning a drive on your most recent solutions.

Technology has grown at an astronomical pace in the last few years, which has surely affected your life in some way. Your business will work largely over the internet, your car will have the latest sat nav system and your phone will be capable of far more than you would have expected just two or three years ago.

However, it is often still difficult to understand how this new technology can specifically help you and your business. One of the clearest signs of this is the fact that every conference is not a sea of people using tablet PCs like the Apple iPad. Tablets are incredibly useful for conference-goers, yet surprisingly underused.

Many conference attendees find it difficult to absorb information that is presented in ways that require them to passively sit and listen, as is the case in traditional talks. Active learning, which involves using discussion and activities to assimilate information, has been used in schools for some time, and is beginning to become part of the conference environment.

Active learning offers a variety of benefits, such as ensuring that the events at the end of the day aren’t full of people who are bored or who have already been overloaded with information.

So you've travelled a few hours to get to a trade show, having spent time planning meticulously for the event in advance. You've arrived in good time to set your stand up perfectly, and made a big effort to look your best. Everything is in place and you're all set for a great day.

Somewhere on the trade show floor will be the high-value customer you're looking for, and if you're lucky, there may even be a few of them. It's just a case of drawing people into your stand or booth and identifying the big leads you may be able to convert.

Organising a trade show costs money, and sometimes significant amounts of it, depending on the size and scale of the event.

As an organiser, you may well make the original investment back with relative ease - and turn over a profit - but it's important to ensure costs are covered as soon as possible.

Happy and motivated workforces are critical to business success, with a more happy and enthusiastic workforce translating into an increasing number of staff who are loyal and productive.

As such, the way that leaders manage their employees will have a great bearing on the direction of the company and future profits - something that is particularly important for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), who will often have a lower number of staff compared to the bigger firms.

Hosting a Wi-Fi hotspot at your conference or trade show can make for a more successful event for all concerned.

With so many people reliant on their smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, people expect to be able to get online wherever they are.

The use of technology can make a real difference to both exhibitors and attendees at trade shows, it has been claimed. Writing for Business 2 Community, Denise Graziano, chief executive at Graziano Associates, said IT can be used to improve lead generation, sales and the customer experience.

"Technology has elevated the capabilities and levelled the playing field for event planners, exhibitors and attendees," she claimed. However, Ms Graziano said it is not just about lead capturing - it is about the attendee experience before, during and post-show.