provide useful information and tips for the meeting or training upfront © by Kristin Sammann

How to Influence Your Attendees’ Event Experience Positively

By nature, people love to interact with their surroundings, to experience and understand everything by using their five senses (see, smell, taste, touch, hear). That’s why events are the perfect tool to communicate your company’s message or let them try your new product. Contrary to many other marketing tools like flyer or email, you can actively involve your attendees in the communication happening at your event and therefore, create a much more valuable and effective connection.

After having analyzed how to create the perfect event experience for visitors at leisure events such as Christmas fairs, we will now shift our focus to corporate events. While it seems so much easier to stimulate our guests’ senses at a ‘fun’ event, there are also many opportunities at meetings or trainings to support a positive event experience.

Pre-Event Experience – anticipation is the greatest pleasure

The communication for your event message, product or information you want to share doesn’t start at the entrance of your event. Your customer communication starts way before that, ideally with the invitation to your meeting or training. Remember: everything that your attendees read, see, hear or can even touch prior to your meeting, counts into the perfect event experience. Use the time before your event and grow your participants’ anticipation by providing a positive experience upfront.

Ask yourself the following questions, which are all influencing your customers’ expectations regarding your event:

  • Do I have a theme, logo or other visual aid for my event to create an image in my customer’s mind?

  • How does my customer first hear about the meeting?

  • How does the invitation look like?

  • Is it easy or difficult to register for the training? Is the tool suitable for my target audience?

  • How long does the registration take?

  • How do I promote the event online/offline (photos, videos, (teaser) information, messages, testimonials, product samples)?

  • How can I support my audience to prepare for the training (agenda, download files, what to bring)?

  • How can I support my audience to reach the venue easily (share map, routes, parking spaces)?

  • How and where can attendees contact me for further questions, information, and support?

Live Experience – finding your way around easily

Although our meeting or training might take place in a hotel or congress center and for us the event itself only starts in that venue, the live experience for our attendees again starts slightly before that. Depending on the distance of their normal working space to the event location this could be at the airport or train station of the destination city. By travelling to attend our meeting, we are taking our potential repeat customers out of their routine and placing them in a new environment.

Keep the following questions in mind when planning your meeting to deliver a continuously positive event journey:

  • Which is the first (unfamiliar) exit point of my attendee?

  • Where would they normally look for signs and further information?

  • At which points should I include additional signs to guide to my event location?

  • Which information does my participant expect?

  • Is the signage visible, clear, and understandable? Could they lead to any misunderstandings?

  • Do I need hostesses at busy locations to actively support and guide my attendee?

  • Do I offer (group) transfers for my audience for easier travelling and/or cost saving?

  • Who will welcome the participant at the entrance? Is there a smiling face waiting for him/her?

  • How is my audience welcomed at the venue? Will they be offered snacks, drinks, goodie bags?

  • Is my event staff standing out and can be recognized with name tags or a specific dress code?

  • Which emotion is my event staff as well as other involved suppliers transmitting?

  • What is the atmosphere like? Will there be music playing and if so, what type of music (energetic, relaxing)?

  • How does it smell? Do I want to have the scent of fresh croissants and hot coffee in the lobby, or influence wellbeing with specific air fresheners?

  • How does the toilet look like and smell?

  • Are there lounge areas to relax after a long travel or to catch up with colleagues or partners?

  • Is the event schedule available and visible for everybody?

  • Is there a central information desk that my attendee can address at any time of the event?

  • Is it obvious where your participant has to go to attend the welcome or first session?

  • Can I individualize the signage for each attendee digitally by using suitable technology?

  • Do the event signage, equipment, visible colors etc. fit my corporate/brand identity?

  • Which venue signs can I customize for my meeting to use my event icons and colors?

  • Are presentations implementing event icons and colors?

  • How can the keynote speaker contribute to stimulate my participant’s senses and include him/her in the talk to avoid non-stop one-way communication?

  • How are stage and meeting rooms designed to integrate my audience instead of separating them from the action?

  • Are workshops and stations clearly indicating the type of (inter)action that will happen? Does the layout foster exchange of opinions, discussion, watch-and-learn vs. DIY?

  • Are event areas for different purposes designed to stimulate the respective senses (lounge with relaxing, quiet music, dimmed lights, comfortable seating vs. lively tunes, bright (day)light, bar tables in the coffee break areas to refresh minds and get people moving)?

  • How can food and drinks at coffee break, lunch or dinner support my event message?

  • How can food and drinks influence my attendee’s attention and wellbeing?

  • Is it possible to experience my product live and test it? If not, how could I present the feeling it provides in a different way? Or can I include my product or service via virtual reality (VR)?

Post-Event Experience – water your seeds to grow relationships

Now you put a lot of effort in delivering your message or presenting your new product onsite and feel like you deserve to rest after this successful meeting. Well, not quite yet. Don’t forget to follow up on your event and stay in touch with your colleagues or potential new repeat customers. There might have been a lot of information and impressions to be processed now. And maybe questions or problems come up afterwards that they weren’t thinking about back then.

Don’t leave them hanging with the following issues:

  • Share photos, videos, and summarizing documents.

  • Provide a platform (already before the event) to let participants share content and connect with your business as well as with other attendees.

  • Follow up on business talks that lead to orders or other business cooperation.

  • Ask for attendees’ feedback! What went well, what can be improved the next time?

  • Keep former attendees in the loop about innovations, news, and your next event.

  • Stay in touch and actively react on everyone’s questions, comments, posts, etc.

All of the above issues in the different event stages pay into the overall customer experience of your meeting, training, conference or corporate event. Try to address as many pain points as you can identify during the event journey. No matter how well you have delivered your content, if one crucial element is unpleasant or goes wrong entirely, it can affect your entire event negatively.

Try to get as much feedback as you can. Not only from attendees but also from involved staff to get a good view from all perspectives. Follow the method ‘learn – unlearn – relearn’: repeat the things that went well but say goodbye to elements that did not pay into a successful event experience. Event planning is a continuous learning process. Don’t sit back and relax and expect that your next event will be another success only because it was this time. People evolve, and so does their expectations.

If you are unsure how to identify pain points along your event, walk through it as if you would be an attendee. What do you expect when and where? What works to stimulate your senses and what is unpleasant? And last but not least, what do you need to enjoy the meeting and make the most out of it?

Check back next week to see how all of the above influences your attendees’ feelings.

Have a wonderful day!

Kristin Sammann

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