Organizing a successful event is a challenge for any company. Getting illustrious speakers who can attract an audience eager to listen attentively is the first step towards success. Filling the selected venue with a suitable number for an audience is also a hard task for which one must compete actively due to the great plethora of events scheduled every day in a city like Madrid.
But what happens once you’ve overcome these first three steps? The day of the event arrives and at the hour you’ve scheduled, only a handful of guests not exceeding two digits in total number have registered. You’re worried, but only relatively, because you’ve already foreseen that in this country everyone is late and you had it written in your agenda. After about 15 minutes of courtesy (or even half an hour in some cases), the program begins and it turns out that only 30 percent of your intended audience has shown up.
Between this point and halfway through the speaker’s presentation, there still is a continuous trickle of arrivals, with the consequent disruption both for the person delivering the program as well as for the audience already sitting in their seats. Because, as another one of those things, the first ones that arrive always occupy the seats closest to the aisles. It’s an event law! Finally, the total of number attendees reaches just over 50% of the people who have confirmed. Did anyone ever stop to think about the wastefulness of not attending something that they’ve signed up for? The number of attendees influences all of the logistics that gets organized: the size of the room, amount of food and drink or merchandising and giveaways, to name a few.
This occurs on a daily basis in Madrid (and I guess also in the rest of the big cities in Spain). Worst of all, we actually admit it naturally, as one of those distinguishing characteristics (I do not know why) that we have as a Southern European society.
As for those who specialize in organizing these types of events, I recommend that, if most of the audience will need special devices to listen to translations, that they would have them picked up during check-in registration, even if their particular program isn’t the day’s first . Recently, I missed an interesting conference queuing up to pick up one of these modern gadgets (which didn’t work in the end!). And, if journalists attend, please find them a place where they can work comfortably. Keep in mind that whoever uses a laptop will probably need a plug at some point during the day. Equally important, whoever takes notes on paper (don’t laugh, some of us still do) will need at least some bearable lighting. In the same event that I just talked about, some editors had to write in their notebooks while lighting up with their mobile phones. Some lessons to be learned.