The area known as Digital Square was modeled after Harvard Square, in the middle of the convention center.
When LPL Financial planned its “focus13” conference, a key objective was to make it feel like a personal experience for the independent broker/dealer attendees. “The message we wanted to send was that we were building a smarter, simpler, more personal LPL,” says Cheryl Trinidad, vice president of conference services.
But how do you create intimacy at a 6,000-person event, with 3,000 broker/dealers, in a facility as massive as the San Diego Convention Center?
1) Survey. For starters, every broker had a chance to help develop the content through a pre-conference survey sent three months in advance. That research turned up four themes: efficiency, growth, investment insights, and client experience. “So we made those the tracks for our 266 breakouts,” she says.
2) Access. At the event itself, planners created a comfortable space called the Executive Pavilion, where every attendee had the opportunity to sign up for a 15-minute meeting with one of the company’s top leaders, including CEO Mark Casady. “You could be a sales assistant or new advisor; regardless of your background, you could have that one-on-one time.”
3) Connect. In an area known as LPL Solutions Central, which Trinidad describes as having a “Harvard Square feeling, like a neighborhood,” attendees could visit with home-office departments, meeting the people they speak with on the phone all year long, and visit “Digital Square” for demos on touch-screen computers.
4) Recognize. Focus13 is about education and training—it’s not an incentive—and participants pay out of pocket to attend. But LPL wanted to do something to recognize each advisor’s performance, so it created an interactive “Wall of Fame.” Attendees could select their names on a touch screen and their club levels would pop up. A photograp L Financial designed a 6,000-person meeting with a personal touch. her was there to take their pictures in front of the wall.
5) Serve. The personal touch extended beyond the meeting itself. Organizers created a pre-conference day where attendees worked with the USO in San Diego to pack up welcome-home gifts for returning soldiers. They were also given the chance to provide soldiers with financial advice. As the crowning touch, LPL purchased a photo of an American flag by photographer Peter Lik and donated it to the USO office.
Annette Gregg, CMP, CMM, MBA, who joined LPL as vice president of conference services just a couple of months before the August 18–21 conference, was struck by how her new company used it drive customer satisfaction. “Here I was, coming into the company as a newbie, and I was so impressed by how everything was tied together to accomplish our strategic goals and to help people feel personally connected.”