Last week, I had the chance to talk to Ines Rüthrich. Ines is one of the people in charge of organizing the next Service Design Conference. I asked her about what is the little thing that doesn’t cost much but has a huge impact. She thought about it for a few seconds and said in a serious way: « The coffee. Definitely the coffee. ». Ines explained me how an event she organized suffered from a situation without coffee. This was in New-York. There, after the 9/11 security policies make it impossible to offer coffee to go. Attendees with their Starbucks coffee aren't allowed to bring it inside. «When people don’t have their coffee in the morning they get grumpy». It’s a simple fact, many people like their morning routine and get their coffee at work. If they can’t get their coffee at the conference, you start to mess with their routine. And as many of us know, never mess with the routine of a user.
It works at church as well
This simple tip by Ines reminded me of a simple hack we did with a church some years ago. Usually people come to the service, go the their seat and wait until it starts. To make it less awkward for new comers we added some simple bar tables with drinks and peanuts. The effect for them was immediate. They all gathered around the table and felt less intimidated. They could just go straight to the drinks, pour themselves some cheap cola drink, and have something to do. They weren’t the weirdo in the crowd who has no friend or plays on his smartphone alone anymore. Now they were cool guys, standing and enjoying a drink.
Coffee or simple drinks can have a huge impact on how people will experience an event. In conferences the networking aspect is important. And the drinks can help people connect more with more ease. That's why the coffee is definitely something important for conferences.