Tips for your Paperless Association Conference

by | Nov 24, 2016 | Blog

We are all aware that many conferences are now fully embracing the digital age. As a result, many events have gone “paperless”. In other words, they have radically broken from traditional methods. There are three main benefits to this paperless approach: First, it is an environmentally approach when compared to the use of materials such as papers and brochures. Secondly, many have argued that this is actually a cheaper alternative. A final windfall gain is the fact that a paperless conference is a sustainable event which is excellent from a public relations point of view.

Organisers need to keep these three factors in mind:

  • Green conferences (regardless of their size) will have an impact upon the global environment.
  • The need to present logical reasons for such an approach. Openly communicate this perspective.
  • The purpose of adopting leadership abilities to enable an organisation to advocate this viewpoint.

Let us now look at a handful of useful tips to keep in mind when planning a paperless association conference.

Advanced Communications

Always keep in mind that not everyone may have attended a paperless conference in the past. Thus, it is wise to inform all participants in advance that physically printed materials will not be available. Convey that they bring their smartphones, tablets and laptops. Make sure they have easy access to download the conference app if available. If apps or QR codes will be used, it may also be wise to include a brief email attachment that explains the way that they function. Some might not be familiar with their operation and purpose.

Related: Enhancing the Delegate Experience with Effective Conference Content Distribution

Creating a Mobile-Friendly Paperless Association Conference Portal and Mobile App

Take into account any materials that would normally be printed and distributed to attendees. Examples here could include:

  • The schedule of the event
  • A list of guest speakers
  • A summary of the main topics discussed
  • Exhibitors at your exhibition
  • Abstract Books
  • Floorplans

Once you have identified these factors, post them onto the relevant website and allow them to be downloaded easily as smartphone documents. The purpose of this revolves around much more than logistical convenience alone. Guests who can access such content during the conference will be less likely to use their smartphones to check their email or otherwise become distracted.

It goes without saying that in present times, an event app is one of the turnkey tools when it goes to paperless events. All the relevant documentation can be included in your app. Ask your professional conference organiser as they will know what solution suits you best.

On-Site Assistance

We should never forget that a small portion of attendees may not be entirely aware of how to use QR codes or access dedicated applications. One way to address this possibility is to provide on-site staff who are intended to serve as electronic assistants. There are two benefits to be noted here. First, the organisers and speakers will remain confident that their guests will not become lost halfway through the paperless association conference. Secondly, this sense of hands-on support is likely to generate an even greater amount of engagement from the attendees. This is obviously beneficial in order to promote your association services.

Explain the Purpose of the Climate Friendly Meeting

Never make the mistake of assuming that your guests will be aware of the reasons why you have embraced a paperless approach. If they fail to appreciate the reasons, they could quickly become bored or confounded with why they are being forced to take on a more “digital” role. At the beginning of the event, spend five or ten minutes to elaborate on the reasons behind the paperless conference and the associated environmental motivations. If these justifications can be tied into the core philosophy of the organisation, this can also be an excellent engagement point.

Electronic Evaluation Forms

As with any traditional conference or meeting, it is critical to understand how the event was perceived by the attendees. Use your conference app or provide a downloadable form with the help of a QR code. Guests will then be able to complete the form at their convenience from their smartphone or a personal computer. Interestingly enough, it has been shown that the response rate is just as high when compared to traditional questionnaires. This is also an excellent way to supply another contact point for future communications.

Related: Taking the Guesswork Out of Conference Management: Investing in a PCO

These are just a handful ways to successfully promote and host a paperless conference. As these events become more commonplace, we should fully expect that audiences will appreciate their benefits and let your organisation shine.


Congrex Switzerland is an internationally operating agency delivering integrated solutions especially for non-profit clients. This encompasses the overall organisation of conferences including the management of hotel rooms and the strategic consultancy of associations. Annually Congrex Switzerland organises approximately 33 conferences with over 73’000 delegates. Amongst our clients are international associations, governmental organisations and corporations.

If you wish to receive additional information about Congrex Switzerland, please feel free to contact us.

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