Events are more important than ever.
They're far more than a great time with great people. Your events help attendees discover new technologies, find useful business connections or find their new dream job.
But your attendees, exhibitors and sponsors look for increasingly deeper connections and real knowledge they can take away from each event. So how can you ensure your event delivers an experience that keeps event-goers coming back year after year?
Simple: focus on the people. People are the most precious resource for your events. After all, events are micro-communities built and led by people who want to achieve something together.
Attendees no longer want to engage only at the event. They want to actively engage with your event before and after, maximizing their networking and learning possibilities. This helps them generate more value and helps them forge everlasting connections with other community members.
So here are our tips for maximizing event engagement throughout your entire event cycle.
Before your event
Pre-event engagement is vital, both for marketing your event and keeping registered attendees engaged. Once they've purchased their ticket, take them by the hand and show them that you're hosting more than an event. Your event is the place where they can be the most professional version of themselves and, ultimately, find what they are truly looking for.
But how can you make them feel like they're part of your larger event community?
Depending on your event cycle, the time between ticket purchase and your event can be months long. And while it's nice to imagine your event will be on your attendees' mind day and night, that probably isn't the case.
Since attendees need to spend both time and money to get to your event, they need reassurance that it's worth the investment. That means they want more than you claiming you have great content and networking. Your attendees want to know:
- How you sourced your content
- How you are enabling great networking
- What is the change you hope to achieve with your event
One of the most powerful forces to instill this is your event community. Pre-event, potential attendees may actively search for your event, or they may not even know you exist. Having a dedicated community and amplifying their voice is powerful marketing, plus good relationship management.
A community is also a great way to source sponsorships. Finding and maintaining sponsorships is one of the hardest struggles in event planning, but by knowing your attendees and having a strong community, you can find sponsors who suit your event theme and prove real value to them by offering access to their target market and an easy estimate for their ROI.
If you don't have a dedicated event community, don't worry. The easiest way to start is at your event.
During your event
Think of your attendees as a large, diverse family that all expect great, personal gifts. How can you give each attendee a thoughtful, meaningful gift that wows them?
Simple. All you need is to learn about them, which means you need relevant data.
And thanks to advancements in event management technology, you can gather and harness large amounts of data that describe your attendees in great detail. This can help you make informed decisions and prepare an incredible, memorable event.
Facilitating networking is a perfect way to learn more about your attendees. Helping your attendees connect with relevant individuals gives you real-time data on your attendees' interests and skills. In short - who they are and what they want.
You can also track speaker engagement and attendance rates to your sessions which helps determine over-performing and under-performing content.
After your event
Your event is over, but your job isn't (well, is it ever truly over?). Your attendees want personalized experiences, but also a hand in creating them.
That means gathering feedback and asking them what they want for the next event. What went well? What exceeded expectations? What didn't go well, or what was missing?
If you can spare the resources, assign reps to ask attendees about the event. This qualitative data can be invaluable when you combine it with your qualitative survey and feedback results.
Follow the discussions after your event on social media in as many channels as you can. A parallel Facebook event page or a unique hashtag on Twitter gives you easy access to all comments, impressions and feedback left by your attendees on the web.
Learning what your attendees loved, wanted and need will be invaluable in creating the best event possible.
More meaningful events in 2019 and beyond
The event industry is on the verge of revolution, all thanks to technology. You now have the tools to build an incredible, next-generation digital experience that your attendees will recall as nothing less than memorable.
Expanding your event experience beyond the event day can translate into huge, measurable results for everyone involved: attendees, sponsors, exhibitors and more.
But realizing the full potential of your event means focusing on the most valuable aspect of your event - bringing attendees together to connect with each other, learn from each other and form a strong community.
More leads. More connections. More partners. More opportunities.
That's the potential waiting at your event.