Vice President, Event Solution Design & Strategy of BCD Meetings & Events
With 20+ years experience in the events industry within both agency and global corporate companies, Banfield leads the Solution Design team at BCD Meetings & Events in Chicago and is responsible for collaborating across internal departments and resources to develop innovative, integrated strategies and solutions to support the growth and expansion of our Events business.
A meeting or event begins long before attendees pick up their name badge and ends long after hotel check out.
Successful events consider and address every component of an attendee’s journey, eliciting deep emotion that creates engagement and encourage positive, post-event behaviors.
How do you break through your prospective attendee’s clutter? It’s all about harnessing the power of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). Delivering marketing communication that taps into the qualities, values and experiences they most covet is key.
Brand awareness starts the moment you engage your audience. Establishing a registration site early provides increased opportunity to build your brand and to build anticipation. Remember, your messages are not simply instruments to drive action, they are opportunities to build brand love.
As attendees navigate your registration, track what garners the most traffic, where people spend the most time; what gets bookmarked. Pay attention to what matters to attendees most to spur excitement among both newbies and legacy participants.
Back in the day, attendees were delighted over goodie bags. Not any more. There’s pressure to provide more engaging and exciting experiences over swag. Today, engaging companies provide experiences like sunrise yoga, sunset fireworks, ice cream trucks, even one-on-one puppy-time during breaks.
However, please note, not all bells and whistles are created equally. If they don’t speak specifically to your audience’s interests, they will not make an impact.
Every attendee is different, but they do share commonalities with their fellow meeting-goers. A thoughtful assessment of their psychographics, demographics and behaviors provide clues as to what will resonate best with the group. Also, consider what helps them to be fully engaged and focused on your meeting/event. Perhaps it’s phone charging stations, chair massages, headshots or new business cards.
In addition, meeting-goers often only see the inside of their hotel and convention center, never sampling what the host city has to offer. Capitalize on the benefits and unique experiences of your destination. Provide opportunities to immerse guests in local culture and cuisine.
Again, rather than chasing the splashiest activities, consider first which elements will make the biggest impact on your guests. Here are other ways to heighten their event experience.
The physical space of your gathering can help or hinder attendee enjoyment. The goal of the space should be to immerse participants in your brand while ensuring smooth traffic flow, opportunities for conversation, special areas/experience spaces to create buzz and space for reflection. So consider:
Smart tech can enhance attendees’ experience and provide you with important data.
Use your event app to gauge interest, guide traffic and encourage interaction.
From questions about a speaker to feedback about opening night events, interactive Q&A provides opportunities for real-time information sharing.
RFID tracking informs traffic flow, allowing you to make real-time changes to spaces and programs. This monitoring also gives you guidance for future planning.
Robust and thoughtful follow-up extends the attendee experience, provides you valuable insights on ROI and gives you guidance for your next event.
l Surveys are an absolute must. Elicit feedback about event logistics, learnings, applications, accommodations, program quality, etc.
l Start FOMO for next year! Send select content to those who didn’t attend so they will next time.
l Continue the conversation year-round with thought-leadership messaging, virtual networking, microsites for program deep dives and ongoing polling.
Thoughtful events are successful events. They create eager and active participation, brand involvement, and relevant real-world application before, during and after the gathering. Thoughtful events tap into what makes attendees the same as well as unique. Thoughtful events provide ample opportunities for comfortable, captivating, meaningful and memorable experiences. Be thoughtful and you will reap the rewards.C&IT