Many of us are eager to attend in-person events. We’ve missed the magical “je ne sais quoi” quality that only in-person events provide. But there are some of us who might still need extra encouragement. With that in mind, here are a few simple yet effective ways to entice people to attend events.
Plan for pleasure (and not just business)
We’ve had a tough couple of years. While many of us appreciate meetings and conferences because of the opportunity for professional advancement, many of us also need the joy of being with other humans in real time, face-to-face. This means not only scheduling panel discussions on work-related subjects, but also planning social moments. Peppering your event programme with live entertainment, such as musicians or circus performers, can spark wonderment. Offering complimentary city tours helps to lighten the mood. Onsite massage therapists giving shoulder massages will provoke expressions of relief. Curate an event that optimizes the attendee’s professional world and their sense of wellbeing.
Emphasize the opportunity for relationship building
How can you create experiences that are conducive to the formation of new relationships? Many professionals have the skills they need to succeed, but lack the connections necessary to move their careers or projects to the next level. The value of in-person events (more so than digital events) is that people bump into each other, both intellectually and socially, to form new connections. As an event professional, you can help augment the chances of meaningful connections. Braindates, for examples, are a wonderful tool to help attendees cross pollinate.
Shout about it on social media
Okay, don’t actually shout. But you do need to show up. Sometimes events have low attendance simply because potential attendees didn’t even know about them. Sound sort of sad? That’s because it is. Avoid the “event void” by implementing a solid communications strategy. This will involve posting about the event on Twitter, LinkedIn, or wherever your attendees congregate digitally. If you need more support, identify the most influential members of your audience, and offer them perks (such as free attendance) to help get the message out.
Count the content for credit
Many event professionals organize gatherings for skilled workers, and oftentimes these workers need to maintain their certifications. Providing sessions that qualify toward recertification requirements is a logical way to lure more attendees. This might mean partnering with certification boards to ensure the content matches the necessary certification process. Either way, the two-birds-on-stone motif is strong here.
(No birds were actually harmed in the making of this article.)
Choose a wonderful destination
Last but certainly not least, a good event starts with a good location. Go with destinations that have curb appeal — the type of places where attendees will want to add on a few days either before or after (or both) to ensure bleisure activities. (Business travel + leisure travel = bleisure travel.) Work with the local CVB or tourism office to develop deals on pre/post stays. Many cities, such as Montréal, offer options for coworking or remote working, ensuring that attendees will be able to stay comfortably connected even when far away.
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