Dreamforce 2014: Three Lessons in Conference Planning

Dreamforce 2014 Breakout

Preview: Three Lessons from Dreamforce 2014

Dreamforce 2014 could have been a nightmare for many conference organizers. The annual confab, sponsored by salesforce.com, the world’s largest provider of CRM software, this year drew more than 150,000 registered attendees, another seven million online viewers, 400-plus customer and partner exhibitors and offered 1,450 live sessions. Keynoters included former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Klaus Schwab, executive chairman of the World Economic Forum. Other speakers included Al Gore, Tony Robbins, Arianna Huffington and Neil Young. Attendees donated one million meals to the hungry and managed to plow through 5,000 gallons of coffee. Oh, and the entertainment? Bruno Mars.

So, how does such a mammoth event remain meaningful, manageable and relevant to attendees? And how do attendees manage to not get lost in the crowd? Elizabeth Pinkham, svp of strategic events at salesforce.com, takes us behind-the-scenes. “We want Dreamforce to be a huge event that is meaningful, that you can navigate with comfort and ease in total security the entire time,” she says. Here’s a preview—the full story runs in the November/December issue of Event Marketer.

1. Community: Dreamforce attendees are a diverse mix of Salesforce customers, potential users, partners, philanthropists, analysts and press, yet each group can find an environment unique to its needs. Executives attend a private Executive Summit area with its own programming and networking opportunities. Developers get hands-on experience in workshops. Small- and medium-sized businesses receive one-on-one consultations and sales-force administrators can get certification and training.

2. Campus: The Dreamforce campus harbors three major “showcases” where attendees can get up close and personal with products and experts from a variety of companies and industries. Salesforce itself comprises a major portion of the expo with booths for each of its products—community, service, marketing, analytics, sales, platforms and apps.

3. Content: Besides these three showcases, Dreamforce utilizes ballrooms and meeting space in every nearby large hotel for additional hubs, zones, demos and networking, and this year, nearly 1,500 information sessions. “By virtue of putting these sessions in one central place, we are bringing together this powerful community,” Pinkham says. “This year we turned up the dial on that, creating more zones and hubs and areas where people could sit and talk and really get inspired outside of the session itself.”

For those who can’t make it to the conference, the content lives online. A Salesforce Live studio broadcasts keynotes, sessions and interviews all day everyday on salesforce.com and dreamforce.com. It also lives on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Check it out for yourself!

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