Events and communities are a hot topic for 2023, and event attendees are putting a high value in face to face connection with a whole new set of expectations on accessibility.
Quite possibly as a result of the pandemic, people have grown to expect digital accessibility to information at their fingertips as well as multiple ways that they can connect with other attendees or groups. This blending of virtual information and in person social interaction seems to be the perfect recipe for a successful attendee experience.
This level of interaction however does not start and stop with your week of event execution. Rather than a one-off week of activity around the annual event, people are seeking, and expecting, a steady year-round presence.
The conferences and planners who do it best use thoughtful program design and dynamic engagement techniques to help foster genuine attendee interaction and connections. Ultimately, the more attendee touch points you have with your event community, the more value they’re going to get from your event. Or said another way, when orchestrated properly — “The event builds the community, and community builds the event.”
Here are some great ways you can help to create genuine connections and start to build community at your next conference….
Pre-event engagement. This stage is a critical, but often overlooked part of the event planning process. During this stage the goal is to create awareness & interest around the event. The ultimate result is to increase registration numbers, so the more you can capture your current and potential attendees’ attention, get them talking, and get them interested, the more likely you will be able to maximize event attendance and profit.
Pre-event tips to build your attendee base:
- Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. – Make sure you communicate often and clearly to your audience. The event website is current, with regularly updated information. Early bird rates and registration close dates are obvious and then communicated often via email. Write a blog, have a speaker write a guest blog, create a giveaway to spark some additional event enthusiasm. Whatever you can think of to maximize event communications to your attendees to get them engaged early is key here.
- Frequent social media posting to share essential info, tease out event highlights, get fun conversations started, and get people connecting with each other early on. Make your content easy to share and even easier to register, and you will quickly understand why social media can be such a powerful marketing tool for events.
- Pre-event polling to get instant feedback on discussion topics, sessions and tracks, speakers, etc. The more info you have in advance the better you can curate a program that people will actually enjoy. Vice versa, the more an attendee feels listened to and experiences an event they feel they already contributed to, the more likely it will be a positive experience all around.
Attendee engagement during an event. Attendee engagement at conferences is everything, and has become one of the if not the key metric used to evaluate an event’s value and ROI. Successful event planners know to keep the event energy high and your attendees interested. With the sudden and dramatic return of in-person events, we have seen clearly that attendees are hungry to be engaged and involved in the overall event experience; willing to participate, and often willing to step outside their comfort zone to do so.
During the event make sure to:
- Use a mobile event app to communicate to attendees directly and instantly. Notify attendees of schedule changes in real time, send agenda and event updates, networking session reminders, and more. Event app technology can also help attendees to create their own customized event agendas, offering a personalized event experience.
- Get attendees talking with great icebreakers at the start of your event sessions, offer plentiful opportunities for networking throughout, and curate them along specific topics or interests to gather like minded people together.
- Present an interesting agenda with new and exciting industry topics, hosted by dynamic emcees, featuring industry leaders and compelling speakers. Make sure the content is fresh and unique, and the production quality is top notch to have attendees glued to their seats, and buzzing after.
- Interactive sessions to get people connecting with the live panel through audience Q&A. Get real time feedback by integrating live polling. Break into micro groups for world cafe style discussions.
Post-event engagement. Once the event is over, keeping the momentum high is key. Play off of the attendee enthusiasm by maintaining your communication strategy, sharing event highlights and teasing out early registration for the next year’s event. This stage is key for capturing attendee loyalty and supporting audience growth for your event.
After the event take advantage of the post event momentum with:
- Post event surveys are a key way to get genuine feedback from your attendees and show your organization’s commitment to providing a valuable experience. Ask attendees about their favorite and least favorite parts of the event, including things they would like to see included at similar events in the future.
- An event highlight video is a great asset to create, and a fun way of reminding your attendees about your event’s best moments. Not only does it keep your attendees excited about this year’s event, but also keeps them engaged for next year’s event. A highlight video could also work great for an event announcement marketing video too 😉
- Send out an event Save the Date for next year’s event, and get people to commit while they are still buzzing from this year’s event. Post this on social media and make it shareable for an immediate and early indicator of attendee interest for next year’s event.
Love these suggestions? We’re here to help.
Give us a call anytime, and when ready to start planning your next conference or event.