Chairman’s Review: RTC Asia 2015
There are always mixed feelings as a conference ends: Pleasure at the success of some aspects, sadness (and determination!) at the failure of others, exhaustion after days of little or no sleep, relief (and sadness) that it is finished after a couple of years of planning and prep, astonishment yet again at just how FAST those three and a half days go once you get into it!
As chairman, I naturally have a different set of criteria by which I judge what constitutes success or failure of a conference. Mostly, this is centred around ensuring that the delegate (ie. you…) experience is everything we would hope. That the logistics are easy to understand, that the classes deliver what you need, that the exhibition is full, energetic, and made up of companies with products that interest you, that the social events are enjoyable and provide the best opportunities to meet new people and form connections.
This all centres around what is referred to in events as ‘Front of House’, meaning the portion of the proceedings that are exposed to people attending, and is differentiated from ‘Back of House’ which is operations and management.
On the Back of House side, anyone who has been involved with RTC for a while can tell you that there are a couple of words or phrases that I like to use in relation to events. The first phrase is this: “I don’t care if we have fires in the Back of House, I care if those fires are visible from the Front of House. In other words, while we may have problems with some operational aspects of the event (something in A/V or internet service isn’t working properly, or rooms aren’t getting cleaned properly, or there’s heavy traffic on the route to a social event, or someone called a snap election (ok, that last one is a little far-fetched…)), as long as that problem does not end up having an impact on your experience of the event then I am ok with it. The other big catch word for me is ‘smooth’. You have to say it by drawing out the ‘o’ sound… ‘smooooooth’. This one is pretty self-explanatory – things just come together well, and everything pretty much just works. Smooooooth…
One of those feelings is nerves; lots and lots of nerves when introducing an event to a new region (remember – this is RTC’s fourth region, and also third event series, so we have done the ‘inaugural’ thing now 6 times). Many of the aspects of a conference for which we can rely on historical data in other regions is being taken on ‘gut feel’, and, ummm, hope…
This event, I’m pleased to say, was not only our smoothest inaugural event, it honestly was also one of our smoothest events, period. We had a few last minute changes, the big one moving the plenary (main combined) session from the nearby conference centre back into a room at the Equarius Hotel and some fears over internet service, but we were able to get them resolved, and the plenary change was a big success, as it brought everything back into the one environment. The lab room was a huge success – the equipment worked (more of a fear than you might imagine), the classes were well-attended, and the feedback was great. The exhibition space felt full, without being overcrowded, and there was a good amount of interaction between delegates and exhibitors. The social events were fabulous (how about Tanjong Beach Club, eh? Wow!). Finally, the 200 people in attendance meant the event had a level of energy, enthusiasm, and enjoyment that resonated throughout the facility and felt really good.
Many people come to me during an event to ask me how I think the event has gone. There is my answer. However, the answer I give when onsite is almost always “It doesn’t matter how I think it went, how do YOU think it went?” In other words, even if I think it was great, if you don’t agree then the event is not a success. YOU must have felt it was good value, that you learned important things, and that you made worthwhile new connections. Without that the rest doesn’t matter much…
So, we are always keen to hear feedback about the event, about future events, about things you would like to see added, about things you would like to see avoided. We ask for feedback via a survey at the end of the event (in addition to the session specific feedback that you provide throughout the event itself), but if you have more comments to make or ideas to add, please feel free to contact the RTC team at firstname.lastname@example.org, me personally at email@example.com, or add your comments to the copy of this blogpost that will be up as a discussion thread in the RTC Community on LinkedIn.
Chairman, RTC Asia