Earlier this week, I was privileged to be a part of the Gartner International Symposium in Barcelona. From the minute I entered the event space, I could tell this was an event designed to build Fierce Loyalty among its attendees. From staff members positioned in key places wearing shirts emblazoned with “How Can I Help?” to the intentional Meetup software and designated space to the multicultural Prayer Room, this event was setup to be something really special.
I commented on the thoughtful, well-planned touches to one of the event managers and she said “Our entire event planning and production is focused on one thing: make them want to come back again next year.” Wow. Out of all the events I’ve attended, that was a first. In that one sentence, I knew why attendance at their event grew 30% in one year. (Many organizations I know are struggling just to maintain their numbers from last year.)
While my newsletter subscribers will receive a more detailed list (you can subscribe here), I’d like to share three actionable ideas that any event on any budget can use to wow their attendees and “make them want to come back again next year”.
- Make your attendees feel warmly welcomed at every turn. The most striking example of this happened at lunch. As my group walked in, I saw the entire wait staff and event team lining the aisles, heads up, smiles on their faces and a warm hello complete with eye contact. Everyone who walked into that room felt like a VIP.
- Speaking of VIPs, every event has some of those: your best customers, your most senior executives, your strongest alliance partners. Create a special experience just for them. This could be something as simple as a VIP lounge (Gartner’s was more like the Singapore Air Airport Lounge) with extra power hookups, cold drinks and snacks. You could even have a small meet and greet or book signing with one of your speakers.
- Help people connect before the event. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, many many attendees come to an event alone and feeling like an outsider. There are also attendees who know the ropes of the event better than many staff members. Create an intentional online connection point for these two groups and actively make connections for them before anyone leaves for the airport and keep it open during the event. Bonus tip: Have dedicated workstations throughout the event space dedicated to nothing but this online connection point so people can arrange meetups, lunches, dinners, etc.
These are just three of the hundreds of well thought out event details that made Gartner’s event such a standout. None of them are expensive or difficult. They do require planning and effort. The reward? You’ve set the stage for your event attendance to grow 30% in just one year.
What ideas have you seen at events that make you “want to come back next year”? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.
PS. These ideasd and how you can harness them will be one of the topics we cover at my DC workshop on November 24! Click http://fierce-loyalty.com/fierce-loyalty-workshop-dc/to learn more and grab your seat!