Is you conference family-friendly?

A well-planned conference can greatly contribute to the compatibility of family and work in its organization and design. It starts with family-friendly times of beginning and end, sufficient breaks during the day, and flexibility of the programme. Furthermore, it includes the opportunity for partners and relatives to attend lectures at no charge or at reduced conference fees.

Conference, photo: Ollivier Robert, 2011 (CC: BY-NC-SA)

For families with children, it is especially important to have free child-care during the conference, as well as the possibility to find "babysitters" in the evenings, when all other participants come together for social events. Preferably, organizers also invite partners and children to such social events. This can positively influence the atmosphere during celebrations and excursions. In this case, of course, organizers should think also of child-friendly food and drinks.

In general, the choice of the conference venue and hotel can make the stay much easier for relatives of attendants: common rooms, chill-out lounges, play areas, tea kitchens, the option of breast-feeding or warming up baby food, toilets, elevators and entrances for mobility-impaired visitors and strollers. Some hotels are designated as family hotels and may offer attractive leisure options or wellness for all ages.

Organizers can pay attention to such criteria of family friendliness when choosing accommodation. When making reservations, they should also plan certain quotas for double and multi-bed rooms for accompanying persons. It is also very helpful to arrange in advance with the hotel the possibility to make separate billing of vocational costs of participants and private costs for their escorts, or to obtain benefits for the latter.

Also important here is a family concept that includes dependent relatives, same-sex couples and unmarried companions.

For those who, despite all that, cannot travel together with their families, there should be a chance to attend the conference for a shorter period.

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