- Focus on the value of this year's event to entice attendees to come back next year.
- Look for areas of event improvement that happen "behind the scenes" to enhance the overall experience.
- Keep in touch with past attendees and offer exclusive incentives for registering when the next conference rolls around.
- Look to add personal and exclusive value -- what sets your event apart from any other?
Drawing attendees to your event for the first time is challenging. Creating an experience that makes them want to return year after year is even more arduous. The event world is growing exponentially, and attendees have countless options as to where to spend their conference budgets. Why should they continually opt to invest in yours?
As an event planner, you should strategize for and implement the following tactics (regardless of the company, business model, product or audience you serve) in order to keep your attendees coming back the next go-around.
How to Increase Repeat Event Attendance
Pay Attention to Detail
- Many meetings are super-concentrated on overall highlights (keynote speakers and sessions) yet neglect to improve on the "smaller" pieces. Start by tweaking the behind the scenes aspects to create a more attendee-friendly experience.
- Strive to improve issues including check‐in wait times, session downtime, catering management, traffic flow in/out of sessions and crowd control on the expo floor.
- The small details quickly become big ones and play into the overall attendee experience.
- Even the best keynote can easily be overshadowed by a poor overall experience. It's the little adjustments that make the most difference.
Focus on Experience
- Your event will be well‐remembered if speakers dive beyond surface level stats and trite observations.
- The goal of each conference session should be to provide attendees with a roadmap for enacting plans once the event's over.
- Encourage speakers to focus on thoughtful and actionable content, not just superficial observations.
- Design your meeting in a way that answers the question, 'How will I inspire attendees to lean in and get excited about the possibilities ahead?'.
Keep in Touch
- Be sure to communicate upcoming event info when it's convenient for your audience.
- Avoid sending important emails at the end of the month or quarter, when businesses are wrapping up budgets and closing sales, or the Tuesday after a three day weekend. Your email will just be buried, or worse, deleted.
- Share a well-designed event report highlighting last year's key take-aways and plenty of comments that express your event's fundamental nature.
- Invite past attendees to review talks, seminars, photo galleries, videos, etc. from last year's festivities.
Offer the VIP Experience
- Reward past attendees by letting them register first! It's as simple as sending last year's guests an event invitation before anyone else.
- Remind past attendees of their awesome experience and tempt them with the "bigger and better" aspects that are in the works for this year
- Provide discount codes for repeat guests who decide to register early.
- As an alternative to monetary discounts, why not offer some exclusive value? For example, you could host an exclusive drinks or dinner event for returning attendees or upgrade their room at no cost.
About the author: Mary-Kelly Rich, event and community marketing manager, SkyKick, envisions, promotes and executes meticulous and comprehensive events that grow a sustainable customer base and increase brand recognition.