As businesses and associations emerge carefully from the recession, many may still find conference calls and internet meetings financially attractive. Certainly, there’s much to be said for airline and hotel expense savings. But, new word is out on attendance at conferences and annual meetings that may surprise you.

We are a communal bunch, we humans. Talking heads on a computer monitor cannot fill our need for experience even though our thirst for information may be adequately quenched. Ted Talk style events with much greater participant engagement may serve your members and employees better than an online event. After all, that’s the old one-way communication.

There are new trends including destination events which include team-building activities like scavenger hunts, tours through museums and other unique exhibits, cooking classes, even swim meets. One of our favorite ideas is to work at a city food bank for one day or volunteer at a Habitat for Humanity project that is underway. Then, spend the following day with comrades you’ve had non-work experiences with.

This type of “engagement conference” may take some creativity. The planning and production of your meeting may be best handled by an experienced firm such as Huntington Association Management. From group tours to tug-of-war picnics in the park, there are lots of details to get handled right.

You might want to consider more in-person exchange. It creates a different type of community among attendees. Your meeting will certainly not be boring and our guess is that next year others will be clamoring to attend.