Event Management
From behind our desks we can speak to most of our peers, suppliers, partners and customers, but an in-person meeting at a conference, meeting or event is what cements that relationship.  
As each unique event acts as a conduit for business connection, the role of the event planner is more critical than ever. The task of event promotion however, is increasingly difficult as the standards to which attendees hold event organizers continue to rise.
As professional event planners many of us have our challenges. Cringing at the sight of poorly constructed invites, overly busy agendas and cumbersome registration practices.  Here is my list of the 7 event management tactics that need to stop right now:
  • Blasting out email invites
Your keynote and venue are booked and you’re excited to send out an invite to your email list. Let me just stop you right there. Before you send your invite there are few things you need to consider. Yes, email is still one of the best ways to promote your event. But, is a mass email campaign really going to peak the interest of your prospective attendees?
An email contact is valuable, and often hard earned, it’s worth taking the time to think about the long-term relationship and putting yourself in the shoes of the recipient.
According to Mailchimp research, segmented email campaigns get a 100.95% higher CTR than non-segmented campaigns. Using the information you have about the individuals on your mailing list, you can segment your audience on location, interest, attendance record, job function and seniority. You can then deliver personalized email campaigns that are more relevant and more likely to deliver ROI.
You must also make sure that you’re complying with opt-in regulations. Every event manager knows that purchasing lists is a no-no, but new data protection rules such as CAN-SPAM and GDPR in Europe apply to corporate event email’s too.
  • Creating A One-Size-Fits-All Event Experience
It’s not just about setting out a great lineup of speakers, and providing good food, these days, event attendees require a different level of stimulation and interactivity than ever before.
For example, my colleagues and I have attended the HubSpot Inbound conference, each of us received links to tailored agendas and sessions suited to our job roles and areas of interests. Inbound offers a wide variety of ‘tracks’ for attendees including a Sales, Leadership, Marketing tracks at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels.
In true Hubspot style, segmentation doesn’t end with ‘tracks’ based on job function. The conference looks at the buyer personas of attendees including their other interests and creates a conference agenda full of talks they know matches their buyer persona interests such as inspirational talks from Bréne Brown and Former First Lady Michelle Obama through to WWE legend John Cena and industry expert Rand Fiskin.
The conference also offers on site massage, free coffee, food trucks and host of other perks designed to ease the weary conference attendee. This maybe why the event will grow from 7000 attendees in 2015 to 21000 attendees in 2018.
But, it’s not just big budget events that can deliver an attendee centric experience, smaller events such as Women Inspire Network aimed at busy entrepreneurs and small business owners are also offering attendees holistic therapies.
  • Offline Registration And Ticket Sales
As an event management professional, you know the importance of ticket sales with a reported 50% of revenue generated from events coming from ticket sales.
According to Planning Pod research, 79% of event attendees use smartphones when first researching live events. So, it’s time to ditch the forms, email bookings and offline sales and invest in online event registration software.
Ensure your event registration page is mobile optimized and loads quickly. Test it out using this incredibly easy to use and free page load tool from Google.
  • Manually Answering Event Queries
Signing into all your social media channels and manually answering questions is so 2017! Chatbots and AI can let you answer queries and register attendees online 24/7. Platforms like Facebook Messenger, Signal, and WhatsApp for business can make it possible to provide insights and direction automatically. While machine learning or AI communications and chatbots haven’t quite been perfected, you can expect to see them become more advance in 2018 (particularly after the launch of Larry Kim’s new bot) and are predicted to have a big impact on event registration and engagement in the near future.
  • Only Including Twitter And Facebook In Your Social Media Strategy
Nearly 25% of traffic to ticketing and registration pages comes from social media. But nothing stands still in the world of social media platforms and Q4 of 2017 saw some major changes, highlighlighting the need for event planners to experiment with new platforms and relook at go to favorites like Facebook and Twitter.
The recent changes in the Facebook news feed has seen a dramatic decline in organic reach. Facebook is now only displaying page posts with the most engagement (likes and comments). For event marketers, it is becoming increasingly difficult to reach and engage potential attendees using Facebook organically.
Twitter’s monthly active users fell by 1 million in Q4 of 2017. This drop in users came mostly from the U.S. In response the company have changed the feed and have committed to improving suggested followers and trends for users. It’s not all doom and gloom for Twitter, as the platform has experienced international user growth, specifically in Asia. This change in Twitter demographic makeup highlights the need for event managers to experiment with new platforms.
Instagram is becoming one of the strongest platforms for social media marketing with 62% of the 300 million monthly users following brands (Iconosquare, 2015). LinkedIn is a must for B2B event promotion. The site has become a lot more ‘social’ in 2018 and is no longer the preserve of job seekers and headhunters. Late last year, the platform refreshed the news feed adding native video capabilities, trending topics, and chat like messages.
  • Only using video post event
According to Forrester Research, visual content is video is 600% more effective than print and direct mail combined, and 1200% times more likely to be shared than links and text combined.
Event marketers realised the power of video way before it became the hot new thing it is today. Spending time, money and effort painstakingly recording, editing and distributing videos of presentations to deliver extra value to attendees. Thankfully, creating video is now much easier (and cheaper).
From pre-event Facebook lives (Facebook boosts these so it’s a great way to overcome declining organic reach) ticket giveaways to live event attendee opinion videos, and post event testimonials it’s now possible to use video to promote your event at every step.
  • Boring Swag
I have a confession to make, I have a slight addiction to notebooks. There is something about cracking the spine on a fresh new journal that I love. It comes only second to the joy of a new book. But if the best thing about the event is my shiny new notebook, then I really haven’t had a good experience. Expectations of swag run high, particularly in high end, tech and marketing events.
Avoid the boring swag with these clever ideas that show you really understand your audience. Travel accessories, chargers, care packs and reusable cups/water bottles are a guaranteed winner with attendees. T-shirts, unique food items and small locally produced items are good. Pens, paper, and snacks are undervalued.
Bonus: Location, location, location
You’ve fallen for a location, its ideal – great wifi, reliable staff, fabulous space and kick-ass menu options. They even have your dates free. It’s Kismet!
But is it right for your attendees? I can’t tell you how many events I’ve organized over the last 10 years. Whether it’s local, national or international there are three things I always look for in an event venue.
First, is it where my attendees live? Looking at my list of prospective attendees, is this the ideal location for this event. For example, if 60% of my audience are in New York, 20% in Boston and 5% in Philadelphia. The ideal location for my event is not Orlando. This might sound obvious but it can be an easily missed step.
The next thing to consider is what the venue says about you. Beautiful architecture can come at the expense of essentials like wifi and networking. A dedicated conference venue may lack the personality and wow factor you want to give your audience.
Third, is size. If I’m running a niche event, will we get lost in a cloud of other conference goers attending a larger event. Or, am I planning to grow this event year on year and want to develop a lasting relationship with one venue and want a consistent experience for the attendees?