September 9, 2014
Planning an event can be challenging. There are a lot of things to consider when planning your next event. In order to help sort through the clutter, we reached out to a few of our clients and partners to gather the five things they consider when planning their upcoming events. Here’s what we found.
Modern associations need to be able to put on events of any size, from events with just a few attendees to events with thousands or more. And one of the major factors in being able to host events of any size lies in the power of the software system the staff uses to manage it. In today’s day and age it’s not acceptable to hear that your system won’t let you set up an event with more than 50 people. It’s not acceptable to require the use of expensive third party software just to manage events for your own organization. And it’s not acceptable to require your attendees to leave your website to register for an event, creating gaps in the registration process that cost your organization signups and revenue. Modern associations should be able to use modern software that can handle events of any size, so their bases are covered, no matter what their needs.
Different people may want to register for your conference in different ways. Some people may want to register by returning physical save-the-date cards, while others may prefer to register electronically. Giving your members the choice of how they want to register for your event will only lead to more RSVPs for your organization. We spoke to one association that reinforces their registration efforts by using e-marketing to send reminders. They then couple those with paper newsletters and postcards as well, since their members do like getting physical save-the-date cards they can hold in their hands as well. By augmenting their methods and combining their strategies they were able to capture more conference registrations than with either method alone.
"Different people may want to register for your conference in different ways. Are you supporting all of your members?”
For many organizations, the content of their upcoming conference is what excites their membership and draws the crowds to their event. This is especially true if the conference is in an industry that supports continuing education credits and credits are given to attendees of the event. I recently spoke to one association whose membership is composed of scientists, and they commented that scientists love going to meetings because they get to share their work. But in order to get these scientists to come out to the event and share their work, it needs to be on a topic that people are interested in at that time. In order to craft content that will make them want to come to the event, paying attention to the needs of their members and delivering on those needs is key. Creating content that appeals to your audience is important, especially in a fast-paced world where topics that may be of interest on year are not at all important the next. Understanding that content is king, and delivering on that content, will help ensure your members participate in your event to the fullest extent.
People expect that the event they’re taking the time to go to has valuable content. And if there’s one place that valuable content ends up, it’s on the internet. Make it easy for people to share takeaways from the event by creating a hashtag that can be used to track the conversation on social media. Create this hashtag ahead of time, and put it on all the materials you use to promote the event. As always, pictures and videos of the event remain a popular way to share killer content from the event. One trend in particular I noticed from speaking to associations and event management companies is that Instagram is getting bigger at tradeshows. Since the flow of posts is currently a little slower on Instagram, people can see more of the overall conversation happening and have more time to be a part of it, something that may feel overwhelming to users of other social media platforms. No matter what platform people prefer to converse on, creating and promoting an event hashtag will keep the conversation streamlined so people can share all the great things about your event.
A final thing to consider when planning your next event is recording the best presentations from the event. You can then use these recordings to give a recap of your event to those that came. You can also use the recordings to promote your next event. And you can even package these recordings as a product and sell them after the event is done. I recently spoke to an association that is planning on doing just that to increase overall revenue from their annual conference. If the content offered at your event is good, people will want access to it. Take advantage of all the modern, easy to use recording technology available and record the presentations at your next event so you can use it later. You put a lot of time getting the planning, execution, and presentations right - why not record them so they can provide value later?
Consider these five things as you’re planning your next event. You may be able to squeeze even more value out of it than you originally thought. Have fun!