Creating an Attendee-Focused Event
Creating an Attendee-Focused Event
Creating an attendee-focused event is a sure way to make a connection and earn the loyalty and appreciation of your attendees. Here are five ideas to make your events as honed-in on your audience as possible:
Understand Why Your Attendees Attend
The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) has consistently found two important reasons why guests attend events – to shop and learn. The same applies for repeat attendees. Nancy Drapeau, CEIR’s director of research, says attendees return to specific exhibitions and trade shows, “Because it’s a proven event to achieve what they want to accomplish.”
To ensure your attendees achieve what they want to accomplish, keep the concepts of shopping and learning in mind during your planning. Provide attendees with multiple shop-worthy opportunities – like an exhibition, expo floor and other hands-on areas – to experience and interact with products hands-on. Anticipate their questions and create demos and presentations that deliver the answers.
Poll attendees pre-event to find topics or industry trends they’d like to learn more about. Boost learning by offering “birds of a feather”/peer-to-peer interaction opportunities based on those identified topics.
Get Insights from Influencers
Key guests and some repeat attendees will be influencers who have the power to generate press and buzz – and to attract other attendees.
Identify these event ambassadors and organize them into a customer advisory group. Ask them to list the three most valuable aspects of your event, and suggest other activities and content that will make the event even more valuable. Also ask them to identify portions of the event that miss the mark. Use these influencers’ words and terms in your marketing materials and promotional efforts to communicate in a more customer-centric voice.
Freshen Up the Content
Invigorate and innovate in terms of what you offer at an attendee-focused event each year. Bring in new speakers, schedule different kinds of breakout sessions or refresh the event format. This will ensure repeat attendees don’t feel like they’ve already been there and done that.
Keep it attendee-centric by having participants give suggestions about who and what they want to see. Ask them to rate everything they attend and experience. If you can, make real-time adjustments based on feedback received from on-site surveys and polls. When attendees see that their ideas and feedback are heard, it makes them feel appreciated and increases their feelings of ownership and community.
Sprinkle Networking Throughout
The ability to network is an important draw for attendees. Don’t just leave networking to a handful of sessions. Make it an integral – and authentic – component throughout the event.
Launch networking opportunities pre-event by randomly pairing attendees and encouraging them to find their assigned colleague once they arrive. In a lounge area, add casual networking tables marked with different topics and invite attendees to sit and discuss what they hear in sessions. Use matchmaking apps to help attendees find new contacts with similar interests. And when promoting your event, clearly state how much networking attendees can expect.
Offer Mobile Info on the Go
It goes without saying that your attendees probably not only own a smartphone, but are very reliant on their devices. These attendees will appreciate an all-in-one mobile event app that makes it easy for them to register, navigate the event, review/create a schedule of sessions, or receive alerts/reminders.
Don’t forget to offer free WiFi and power-up stations to recharge mobile devices to keep attendees connected too.
When you make the effort to deliver a customer-centric event, you ensure energized, appreciative attendees who will spread the word to their colleagues. The results will be customer loyalty, sales and lots of positive buzz.