With so many competing events and organizations, it is more important than ever to be reimagining your events to stay relevant and offer new and unique perspectives. Below are some tips to keep your attendees engaged while allowing you to work smarter.
This is extremely important. How many times have you heard or even said, “this is the way we always do it” or “it worked well last year.” People don’t want the same thing. If you are holding your event in the same space every year, it is imperative you work with the venue to reinvent the space through A/V, furniture or even utilizing space in the venue that you may not traditionally use (hallways or foyers, rooftops or large suites for example). If you have the freedom of switching venues each event, it is important not to just switch from one banquet room to another. Really think about your event and look at nontraditional space for all or part of your conference. Maybe general sessions can be held in the host hotel, but unique space nearby could be utilized to host a reception or dinner. It could be a museum, art gallery or any kind of city building. What if they don’t rent their space? Talk them into it. Not only will you be a hero, but your attendees will also be wowed in a space they’ve never seen.
Not only will the use of technology further engage your attendees, it will also save you time on your processes. It is imperative you explore the use of technology for all aspects of your meeting from registration to on site management. For example, are your attendees having difficulty registering for your event? Using the right system will save you time on processing, collecting fees, offering discounts, printing name badges, pulling your attendee and exhibitor lists, segmenting your marketing and, above all, create a better user experience. If you aren’t using an event app, you should start. An event app allows you to provide real-time updates to your attendees and allow your guests to connect and network with one another. The use of gamification is also a really great way to further engage people and help foster relationships, networking and drive traffic to your exhibitors. Think about how much easier it will be to sign exhibitors if you are helping drive traffic to their space.
Partnerships can take all shapes and forms. When designing your sponsorship or partnership prospectus, think about all items you will need to successfully run your event. Offering potential partners the opportunity to provide their services in lieu of cash allows them to get involved where they may have otherwise passed. For example, A/V providers can offer a reduction of their costs, allowing you to create a better experience for your attendees by offering more. Or, perhaps, you can partner with media outlets or other conferences that will help promote your event. An additional example could be the use of any software that will enhance your meeting or event. A technology provider may want to partner to showcase their system to your attendees which may help you improve operations. It is important to think about all elements needed to successfully organize your event and then to think of a potential partner for that service.
The meeting and event space is competitive and fighting for people’s attention is not easy. Allow yourself to get creative and don’t be afraid to see what others are doing. As mentioned, it is important to stay competitive and to continually reimagine all or portions of your event by offering creative content and experiences that your participants aren’t getting anywhere else.
Edward Byers operates the Website Meeting Protocol. He has more than 15 years' experience working in corporate and special events, including two Olympic Games, the Special Olympics, incentives and not-for-profits. He has raised more than $2 million through sponsorship and creating new revenue-generating programs. He offers examination preparation for students studying for their CMP designation.