Trends to enhance the visitor experience at conferences
May 14, 2018 |
by Olga Baginski
Conferences , Exhibitions
In times of increasing digitization, it is more difficult to acquire new participants for a specific conference every year. Interested parties are now looking for the solution to their problem online in order to obtain the greatest possible transparency and be able to compare the solutions directly. The previous idea of a conference offers the participant probably no more added value, at least he is not completely satisfied.
Previous added value for conference participants:
- Networking with exhibitors and other participants
- Inspiration for new approaches and solutions
- Getting to know new methods and solutions
- Exchange with colleagues and suppliers about current problems
Now, the participants wants to be entertained or interact with the exhibitors and develop solutions in this way. Therefore the organizer must think about the organization of his conference in order to improve the visitor experience of the participants. Today you can increasingly find the term Event Experience Design: Create a space for your conference, which facilitates interactions with the organizer, partners and sponsors, exhibitors and participants.
How can I focus on added value again and create an experience so that the target group can once again participate in conferences and not only obtain their information from the Internet? In the first step, the organizer should deal with the stakeholders and think about how he can connect them.
To satisfy the visitors’ needs, the entire process must be considered, not just the conference itself. The process begins long before the event and only ends after the event. The perfect visitor experience is made out of a multitude of small experiences and positive surprises along the Customer Journey. It is not enough to meet expectations; today’s visitors want to be thrilled.
Prepare an overview of all phases of the Customer Journey and define concrete measures for each of these phases. It must be differentiated whether the measures take place online or offline. The solution is obvious; the right mix of online and offline measures will probably create the perfect visitor experience.
||before the event
||during the event
||after the event
10 practical tips for improving the visitor experience at your conference
1. Journey mapping
Set up a workshop in which the team looks at all touchpoints of the participants before, during and after the fair. Of course, the commitment is most intense during the conference, but the decision for or against the conference is made in advance. Therefore, no mistakes should be made at this stage.
2. Consistent, clear communication in advance
Shape the topics of your event to meet the needs of potential participants. Ensure that the wording and branding of the conference is the same across all channels.
3. Share your conference
Establish extensive social media communication in advance. The reach is also extended by sharing and linking from other companies. Give the possibility to report about the conference during the event by predefined hashtags.
4. Interesting and varied programme design
Don’t let your conference become an “off-the-shelf product” by following the same procedure as every year and in the worst case have similar processes to any other event. Try to integrate interactions and get feedback in advance. One idea is to design the lectures in the Ted Talk style and then stop them if it takes too long.
5. Networking und match making
Networking is one of the main reasons why participants and exhibitors take part in conferences. Give both parties the opportunity to get to know each other. For example, some formats arrange talks in advance which they think could benefit both parties. Query the interests or the offer in advance and bring the two groups together.
6. Exhibitor speed dating
Give participant the opportunity to get to know all exhibitors and their products again. Organize a speed dating where all exhibitors have the opportunity to introduce themselves and answer questions in 10 minutes. It brings variety from the recurring keynotes and generates advantages for both parties.
7. Event apps
Conferences are often said to be dusty and old-fashioned. Apps can improve the image of a tired event enormously. Help the participant to get a clear overview of the program and the evening events. Some event apps even offer the possibility to use gamification functionalities to improve the experience.
8. Surveys and satisfaction analysis
Show the participant that they are important to you and that his opinion actually has an influence on the event. Offer the participants the opportunity to express their opinions, preferably digitally, so that they can be evaluated directly.
9. Digital goodie bags
Digital Goodie Bags are already frequently used at events. First of all, it offers the advantage that coupons or other brochures no longer have to be printed and the environmental aspect is taken into account. Organizers have noticed that more than 70% of all print materials end up in the trash. So why not switch to digital solutions?
In addition, digital content can be shared with interested parties and participants even before the event. In this way, organizers can send visitors goodies or promote them in advance (e.g. free tickets, discounts, free drinks at the stand,…). Subsequently, surveys can be carried out and evaluated directly as well.
Digital Goodie Bags, like eventbaxx offer many other possibilities to increase the interaction between participants, exhibitors, partners, sponsors and organizers.
10. Info graphics
Send information graphics about your event and let your visitors participate again in the happenings of the event. Examples could be the consumption of coffee in litres or the use of data volumes. This will lighten the load, remind you of your conference and strengthen your connection to the event.
Don’t be afraid to break new ground. In this day and age, you have to stick out to get noticed.