Like business opportunities, events are validated through experience and market research. As we continue to find new ways to engage a selective audience, organizations don’t always have the luxury of being as innovative as they would like, whether it’s due to budget, opportunity or myriad other reasons.
But what happens to organizations mandated to host events and are seeing a decline in attendance and overall satisfaction? Without being able to use the traditional model of validating event ideas, how can these organizations revive their meetings? Here are five ways to revalidate your event design to pique attendee interest.
1. Put attendees in charge.
Giving attendees the chance to provide input in meeting design or content will create a sense of ownership. Conduct pre- and post-surveys to learn what attendees want to see and experience without having to guess. This is especially important for organizations that host annual events as part of their mandate.
Brand consistency and clarity are important, but event design should evolve with each show. Add a theme to reinforce your organization’s mission. Give the event its own identity. This will give you more ways to communicate your organization’s goals and objectives.
3. Incorporate event technology.
Event tech is more than a fancy registration system or conference app. Consider adding technology that will enhance the experience like a VR station to wow guests or a matchmaking app attendees can use to interact with one another before, during and after the event.
4. Consider live streaming.
With the growing interest in Facebook Live, Instagram Stories, Snapchat and other live-streaming technologies, why not utilize one (or all) of them as a cost-effective way to create buzz? This is also a great way to create a healthy fear of missing out for those who are not in attendance. As a bonus, being able to capture on-site content will give you materials you can repurpose in future learning opportunities, blog posts or promotional content for upcoming events.
5. Create a VIP experience.
Everyone loves to feel like they are getting something special. The VIP experience can be anything from advanced training to an invite-only “Ask Me Anything” session with a president or CEO. Leverage what your organization already does well and create an experience that will reward your attendees.
Mahoganey Jones, CMP, DES, HMCC is owner and principal planner at Event Specialists, where she produces branded, buzzworthy educational events for associations, small businesses and entrepreneurs. Jones is also founder and managing partner at planhybridmeetings.com, and was named a 2017 40 Under 40 honoree by Connect Association for her work in the industry.