Jason Rudoy and Sydney Wolf — Jason Rudoy is the Director of Sales for metroConnections. He has more than 17 years of experience in the event planning industry, and has been with metroConnections for nearly 12 years. Sydney Wolf is the Event Sales Manager for metroConnections and has nearly 10 years of experience in the event planning industry, most of which she has spent growing her career at metroConnections. Jason and Sydney both speak nationally to groups about engaging event attendees and incorporating event technology into conferences and meetings. You can reach them both at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With the rise in technology and demand for creating exceptional corporate meetings and events, it’s time to think differently about attendee communication. We had an opportunity to share some of our ideas on this subject at the TS Tech Summit and wanted to share some of the key takeaways with readers. Attendee communication needs to be at the core of every decision planners are making about an event. There are so many elements to consider for your event communication efforts — the demographics of your group, their level of tech savviness, the location of the program, your desired outcomes, and of course your budget. It’s critical to have a strategic timeline built out for all of your communications pre-, during and post-event. To start — let’s try to shift the thinking from “attendee” to “participant.” Let’s explore how we can involve and engage our participants at every step of an event:
It all starts with your registration page, which sets the tone for your meeting. Making sure you have all your social feeds set up, populated and linked to the registration page is key. Your email invite should easily link to the registration website, which seamlessly links to event information and ideally a portal for other registrants to connect. Once attendees are registered, don’t stop communicating to them! For example, send them a message from the CEO thanking them for registering; create a video or email to expand on the conference theme; highlight the location, share more about event programs or optional activities; or send a “before you go” email with reminders about packing, arrivals and more.
Before your event even begins, it’s imperative to have your mobile strategy in place. There are so many technology options available, but the most important factor in choosing your tech system is to make sure it can all communicate — the mobile app needs to talk to your registration system, which needs to talk to the production tech used in your general session, and it all needs to talk to your attendees. Our skilled technologists can help connect all these things, and even suggest the technology that will best communicate with what you’ve already got in place.
During keynotes and breakout sessions, what are some ways you’re engaging attendees and making them participants rather than just attendees? Our clients love using Catchbox (the throwable microphone), polling apps built into their mobile apps, and many are starting to Facebook-Live bits of their keynotes rather than livestreaming or webcasting the full message. Others are extending the keynote message with a Facebook Live after the general session, back in the green room with a high-profile speaker or other emcee to get their additional views on the conference.
Once attendees are onsite, let your imagination and communications creativity run wild! Capitalize on the various portals of entry related to event travel such as airport arrivals, motor coach transportation, hotel check-in, conference signage, etc. Think about it — if you’ve got attendees captive on a bus for 20 minutes from the airport to your hotel, are you playing a video loop welcoming them to the conference and reiterating the event messaging? What about the hotel room when they arrive — is there a package waiting for them on their bed, reinforcing your premier sponsor or inviting them to the welcome reception event? Think about how your event branding and signage has a welcoming and immersive effect on attendees when it’s on banners, wrapped posts, escalator, stairs, etc.
After the conference or event is over, how do you keep the momentum of your message moving? Be sure to follow up with participants right away with a post-program survey. Maybe the completion of that survey will unlock a special discount for early registration for next year’s event. Participants love to see photos of your event, especially if they’re included in the photos somewhere! Consider compiling a video highlight reel of your event — maybe its even crowdsourced photos from a social media contest or hashtag — and share widely on your social channels and in your post-event thank-you email. You also could offer a photo- and document-sharing space on your mobile app or event website, and run a social media “memories contest” to keep the fun going.
As you can see, there are infinite ways to communicate with your event attendees, help them evolve into event participants, and drive the message of your brand or program home. What is your favorite way to engage your participants at an event? C&IT