The event industry is booming and will continue to grow in rapid numbers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, conventions and events are expected to expand by 44% from 2010 to 2020, far beyond the average projected growth of other industries. After all, it’s a $30.3 bn industry.

With so many conferences, trade shows and meetings happening out there, making up your mind on which one to attend might become tricky. Having snacks, coffee and free Wi-Fi isn’t going to make the event great. It will only make your “death by PowerPoint” a little less painful.

Conferences are all about knowledge and attending one can help you build your personal and professional development, not to mention your boss’s satisfaction when you implement the new ideas you brought back home. On top of that, it is also winning to share an amazing experience with your colleagues around the water-cooler.

Before you start attending business events and conferences this autumn, it is essential to do a little research and start noting down all the potential features an event has to offer so that your time invested will return in maximized added value for you and your company.

1. Unique Venues and the WOW factor

Over 90% of corporate conferences take place in hotels. They offer, both conference organizers and attendees, a variety of comforts. Cheap night rates, vast meeting rooms and most certainly a downtown location where everyone can live like a local and explore the city. Admit it though. It couldn’t be more boring. You’ve seen the same tapestry hundreds of times.

Last April, the CyberCentral Summit took place in Prague, at the Lucerna Passage Prague, a combination of conference rooms, private cinema areas and -drum roll- a shopping passage. According to our attendees’ feedback, 89% of them preferred this unique type of location rather than a usual hotel.

Unique venues give you the opportunity to explore something different than a usual meeting room. Relax-zones, art shows, shops, galleries, eccentric workshop rooms. Going from one session to another without any breaks can be tiring but spicing things up can enhance your event experience.

2. Unplug. Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat

Speaking of relax zones and breaks, having some downtime can be as beneficial as knowledge itself. It will help you de-stress and process what you’ve learn during the day. Yes, the word you are looking for is “Mindfulness”. This fairly new trend is scientifically proven to help your ability to focus, make decisions, and boost your problem solving strategy and creativity.

That’s why, with the help of our friend Erhan Ali Yilmaz, Chief Mindfulness Officer and Mindfulness Trainer, we included a 40 min mindfulness session in more than 5 events in the past 3 years.

3. Embrace VR: your new, hipster friend

Nowadays, Virtual Reality is everywhere. From our smartphones and TVs to shopping malls and conference rooms. You can ride virtual roller coasters, visit exotic places without emptying your bank account, and explore the deep blue ocean. But how can this actually be implemented at a conference?

VR gives the opportunity to startup tech companies to demonstrate their product and pitch their ideas in front of VCs and potential investors. Last year, during the CFO Forum Slovakia, Virtual Medicine showcased their product in front of 200 CFOs from Slovakia and Czech Republic.

In addition, attendees of our events have the opportunity to “visit” our offices in Bratislava and say hello to our team members just by using our VR glasses. And vice versa. It is a fun way to virtually meet the people behind the brand and the human-mechanism that runs EBCG.

4. You are the superstar. Your questions will be heard and answered

Attending events with more than 500 attendees might be quite Insta-worthy but when it comes to your actual involvement and possible knowledge opportunities, things are looking a bit shady.

When you attend a live event, you never know who you’ll get the chance to meet. You get to have access to a number of attendees who are often your colleagues and peers. Conferences are an excellent way to make new and interesting connections, share information and insights and learn about your peers.

Networking is everything. And it shouldn’t be limited to coffee breaks and luncheons. By attending small scale events, you get the chance to ask questions, share your thoughts with speakers and expand on what was covered not only for your benefit but also for the benefit of other participants. These connections that take place between sessions are often the most valuable.

Whether you are attending a healthcare conference, a cyber summit or a product launch, knowing what to look for is fundamental. You invest time and money that will offer value to your business or organization. That’s why you need to make sure the event will equip you with new tools and valuable connections to bring back home and grow your team or business better than before.