Your association event is the best perfect time to present your brand story in a physical form. With all the work that goes into pulling off this event, you can’t afford to have even one empty seat in the house.
A well thought out conference can help your company in a wide variety of ways. You can meet potential clients there and build relationships with businesses in complementary fields. It also helps establish your presence as an authority in the industry.
Finally, don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth. This is built by getting attendees engaged, giving them valuable information, and sending them off with a positive perception. However, a successful conference takes both pre-planning and following up afterward. Here’s what you need to know:
Increasing attendance at your association event
You’ll need to get creative and think outside the box when building excitement before the event. The goals here are to:
- get the word out about the convention
- engage with the attendees so they’ll know what to expect
- cast a wide net to draw in people who haven’t heard of you before
- emphasize the value that attendees will experience
Value here means many things including providing entertainment, networking opportunities with other professionals, sharing valuable knowledge and skills, offering previews of coming tech, and more.
Social Media Strategies
Make sure that you’re leveraging social media while building buzz. A key here is to get started early. People may get busy and only check their accounts once in a while, so it’s easy to miss a single social media update. Meanwhile, a repeated message is more likely to be heard and considered. Use the versatility of hashtags to increase engagement.
Next, liven up your social media content with related value. Instead of having every post mention the convention, diversify. You can comment on related issues, share funny memes, or post anecdotes about what’s happening at the office.
Social media is a great way to engage with attendees while planning the conference. Through questionnaires, polls, or chatting via Twitter, you can learn a lot about what they expect and want to see. Try to learn what they liked and didn’t like about other conferences they attended. Attendees may ask to learn about industry shifts, see new tech being demonstrated, or listen to up and coming authorities on relevant issues.
Conventions and conferences are quite technical and can be tricky to pull off. Ideally, most of these details will go on behind the scenes and attendees will never notice. Hiring a corporate event agency can greatly streamline this process. They can manage a lot of factors that will affect attendees’ comfort and experience during the conference including:
- choosing a conveniently placed venue that’s large enough
- for out of town attendees, choosing a venue that’s centrally located
- assuring that there’s enough parking available
- assembling city information packets
- arranging for meals that accommodate people with allergies, special diets, etc.
During the Event
Attendees are more likely to return to conferences where they had positive experiences. By now you’ve lined up a great list of speakers and maybe organized icebreaker activities as well. Some other strategies to increase engagement and experience during the conference include:
- setting up a kiosk or help desk
- offering information on local accommodations
- lists of popular local restaurants
- assisting with transport
- sharing a schedule of events for the conference
- information on local attractions
Remember that during the first day of the event, your guests may have been traveling for a while to get there. Consider a more relaxed start to the conference, perhaps moving longer lectures or more challenging activities to the next day. If your event is going to have breakout sessions or training seminars, schedule those for the morning when attendees are at their freshest.
After the Event
The final impressions of your event are just as important as the first. Consider closing your conference with a farewell speech where you thank everyone for coming. End things on an uplifting note that will help cement a positive impression in everyone’s mind.
At the end of the event you can give out small gifts such as company branded items. This adds value, after all items like thumb drives are pretty universally useful, and helps build a positive mental association. Don’t forget to send out thank you emails to everyone who attended. If you are planning to make this conference a yearly event, you can add a line about hoping to see them again.
Continue to use your social media after the event. You can post pictures, have giveaways, and offer PDFs of lectures that attendees may have missed. All of this helps maintain your presence and demonstrate the value you gave. Ask attendees for feedback, maybe by surveys or more casual, spontaneous impressions through Twitter.
Finally, you can create a page of highlights from the event and encourage attendees to share what they liked best.