For the last few years I’ve been organizing a buddy system to welcome conference newbies (who typically form about a quarter of the registrations) to the annual edACCESS conference. A month before the event I set up a page on the private edACCESS conference wiki that contains a table of first-time attendees, the name of their organization, and their email address. I send the page link to returning attendees and ask them to pick a first-timer to buddy with. I explain that a buddy’s duties are to:
add their name and email information to the table, so we know that the newbie now has a buddy.
contact their chosen first-timer before the conference, introduce themselves and offer to answer any questions they have.
offer to meet their first-timer at the beginning of the conference and answer any further questions/be generally helpful as appropriate.