When it comes to events, planners are constantly faced with conflicting interests to keep cost down while providing a memorable event experience for attendees. After-hours programmes – or fringe activities, as some call it – break the monotony of a day-long conference agenda, and encourages networking among participants. But before you plan that golf game or book a business tour, here are five tips from Cecilia Ow, Senior Lecturer at Republic Polytechnic’s School of Hospitality and Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), on planning suitable after-hours programmes.

1. Know your attendee profile

Finding out the background, interests and preferences of your attendees will help you make an informed decision on the type of fringe activities to offer. If you are expecting VIPs and overseas delegates, this is even more critical as a wrong move would result in a negative impression of your company. The number of people participating in a fringe activity will impact logistical arrangements such as transportation bookings, equipment rental, admission tickets or catering. Therefore, it is important to have an accurate estimate on hand.

2. Determine your event theme

The event theme has a huge impact on deciding the type of activities that would be most appropriate. Before you decide what options work best, you’ll need to define the objectives of your event, identify the profile of your attendees, understand your attendees’ needs and preferences (see point 1) and be aware of cultural and religious sensitivities. For instance, a golf game at Sentosa Golf Club followed by dinner at the S.E.A. AquariumTM, home to more than 100,000 marine animals of over 800 species, at Resorts WorldTM Sentosa would make a memorable finale to a conference attended by senior executives.

3. Cost and pricing

Budget and affordability are important considerations if you are bearing the cost of the fringe activities. You do not want to sacrifice your profit margin at the expense of programme variety. One way to manage cost is to offer fringe activities as optional items, which means attendees would have to bear the extra cost should they choose to sign up. Another way you can defray the cost of fringe activities would be to incorporate it into the event registration fee.

4. Variety and schedule

It is crucial to ensure that the fringe activities are suitable for your target audience.  Create a shortlist of the types of activities and do a background check on the content, reviews, availability and cost of engaging the proposed entertainers or vendors. When scheduling fringe activities, you should ensure that they do not interfere with the main conference agenda. It may be better to schedule such activities before or after a conference so that attendees have the option to sign up.

5. Impact on the main event

Fringe activities can enhance the quality of the conference programme if they are carefully selected and properly implemented. However, while a popular fringe activity will earn you points, the last thing you want is for attendees to look forward to the fringe activity more than the main event (e.g. sightseeing vs conference). It is also important to keep in mind that not everyone enjoys or have interest in the same activity. So making it mandatory of everyone to join activities they have no interest in could backfire and create a negative event experience instead.

Looking for activities in Singapore that can cater to the different budgets and interests of your attendees? Here are a range of options, ranging from the educational to the cultural, that you can consider including in your conference programme:
Building a Dream

Combine technical skills with teamwork as you work together to assemble brand new bicycles for local underprivileged children.

Ethnic Exploration Tour

Discover Singapore's rich and colourful cultures while taking part in unique challenges such as flipping roti prata (fried flatbread) in Little India and participating in tea appreciation in Chinatown.

Esplanade Tour

Explore the Esplanade – Theatres by the Bay in this educational tour on the architecture and history of this iconic “durian” in the heart of the city.

Gardens by the Bay Back-of-House Technical Tour

Go behind the scenes of this horticultural mega project and learn about its sustainability and conservation efforts.

HeART

Participate in this therapeutic art programme led by youths with special needs, which helps to equip them with life skills that promote social integration and independence.

Marina Barrage Guided Tour

Find out how this state-of-the-art barrage works in preventing flooding in Singapore through this intriguing tour of an architectural marvel in the heart of the city.