Maximize the Relevance of Your Live Events
According to the 2018 Occupational Outlook Handbook, which is published by The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the market for meeting, convention, and event planners is expected to increase 11 percent.
This increase in live events is driven in part by the rise in Millennials entering the workforce. According to recent research, nearly 80 percent of this demographic say they attend events to feel more connected to other people, the community, and the world. They are not alone in the audience. In 2017, 78 percent of Americans attended a live event. That’s essentially four out of every five Americans.
Yet, with increasing crowds comes an increase in expectations. Most attendees are experienced event veterans at this point. To impress them, you need to provide value and find ways to engage these visitors, or you risk a mass attendee exodus to greener pastures.
Create Engagement Throughout the Year
How much time does an attendee spend at your event? A week? Three days? One day?
You may deliver an engaging, thought-provoking, earth-shattering time while attendees are at your event, but once they leave, how much time do you believe they spend thinking about your event? If your answer is “not much,” that can change – and you can control the conversation.
The best way to encourage attendees to return and earn new visitors is to make sure that your event stays on their radar throughout the year. Fortunately, as an event planner, your exposition is always on your mind anyway, so you might as well send some of those thoughts out to the world. Naturally, a cultivated social media presence is an essential component of this conversation.
A year-round conversation starts once the doors of your current event close. Immediately send event highlights, clips from speeches, and follow-up surveys. Then, about three months later, let the event talk rest for a bit while you create blog posts to generate interest and solidify your company’s position as an industry leader. Next, as your event nears and plans come together, send notifications of your progress. Finally, a couple of months before the event, put your foot on the gas and really ramp up your efforts to convert anyone still on the fence into attendees.
To reach your desired audience, utilize your data to discover the platform and messaging that will best appeal to your demographic. This may require some trial and error. So, here are a couple of habits that take advantage of each platform’s strength.
Utilize Facebook Live to announce milestones, such as the first day tickets go on sale, speaker reveals, and any promotions you decide to run.
Schedule times for your speakers and any presenters to engage in Twitter chats
Regularly share Instagram stories showcasing highlights from past events or the run-up to the latest show.
Use influencers to promote experiences at past events, the excitement around your speakers, and the activities available at the upcoming show.
Monitor the Twitter feeds of past attendees, liking and retweeting relevant content while occasionally commenting to keep the conversation active.
Promote the use of your event’s hashtag, even once the event is over, and encourage attendees to post and share their thoughts about the show.
Build a Community
A sustained benefit to this year-round communication is that you can build a community around your efforts.
Live events already attract a crowd of individuals who share something in common, whether that’s an industry or an interest. It is this shared connection that will enable conversations to grow, flourish, and, eventually, transform into correspondence.
Once you have a community around your event, you are practically guaranteed repeat attendees – and they are much more likely to encourage friends and colleagues to attend as well. In addition, when called on to prove the value of your live-activation efforts, you will be able to show the community the engagement that has developed around your event. This is a clear sign of return on objective (ROO) – and possibly return on investment (ROI), depending on how many in the community are also customers.
Turn Lifeless Attendees into Engaged Participants
The era of the passive attendee is in the past. Today’s trade show and event attendees expect to be engaged throughout the event. Thanks to technological advances, you can provide visitors with engagement possibilities that are more personalized than ever before.
Wearable tech, proximity sensors, geolocation software, radio frequency identification (RFID), and more can provide attendees with an event experience that’s uniquely their own. A person can be notified about a special event that’s about to occur, a talk that’s about to start, a special offer from a nearby vendor, or a contest deadline that’s rapidly approaching based entirely on his or her location at the time. Attendees could even have material relating to nearby vendors, booths, and areas pop up on their mobile devices that’s been personally tailored to their profile.
Gamification elements can also be tailored to each consumer based on his or her profile. As attendees make their way from booth to booth, they could be encouraged to visit specific areas or perform precise tasks to earn virtual badges or coins. You could even have a leaderboard in the event app that populates in real time showing who has the most points or completed the tasks in the least amount of time.
Experiential activations – initiatives where companies create real-world, hands-on experiences for attendees – are another opportunity to increase engagement. Though these efforts are often only tangentially related to a business’ products or services, companies benefit by highlighting their overall brand philosophy to create an emotional connection with visitors. Plus, there is always a “sharable” element to the activation that provides invaluable exposure on social media.
Provide “Spontaneous” Networking Opportunities
The term “planned serendipity” illustrates when someone, who has a goal and a strategy to accomplish it, is willing to divert from his or her plan when they spot an unexpected opportunity that still enables them to achieve success.
Planned serendipity can present itself in many ways at an event. Yet, you can orchestrate some planned serendipity by providing attendees with a variety of networking opportunities. You cannot know for sure what will appeal to an attendee. That’s why you want to offer several options.
For example, some people are morning people, so a breakfast event would be perfect for them. Whereas some people don’t really start clicking until later in the day. For these folks, you can offer an afternoon breakout session or cocktail hour. In addition to the traditional meet-and-greet, networking opportunities can take the form of mixers and parties scheduled throughout the event. Or deliver the chance of networking by not offering a session at all; instead, just have a quiet area where people can take a break. You never know what connections may form when two people simply acknowledge that they needed a shared break from the hustle and bustle.
The importance of meetings, conventions, and trade shows is only going to increase in the upcoming years. Whether your event remains relevant during that time is up to you – but not entirely because we can help. For ideas and assistance creating engaging live events, give Event Architecture a call at 972-323-9433.