Event Planners: The Leaders of The Experience Economy [Video]
How To Make Your Events Memorable
We have all heard it, it’s all about the experience. We don’t attend events anymore, we want experiences! But what does it actually mean for event professionals and how can we make our event so memorable that it becomes an experience?
This video is brought to you by TISOH – The International School of Hospitality: Learn from event pros – become one yourself.
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I recently re-bumped into a monumental article from the Harvard Business Review discussing the Experience Economy. The article is from 20 years ago but defines a concept that is materializing in front of many of us working in the service sector. The experience economy.
Many in the hospitality industry agree that service as such is not enough anymore and of course even more so in events. But what does it actually mean for event professionals and how can we make our event so memorable that it becomes an experience?
I would pick the definition of customer experience as the dominant concept we need to refer to. This is because events have a clear objective in mind, they need to change behaviour. Whether they need to convince someone to buy a brand or educate an audience about a topic or entertain them with cool music, the safest comparison is always with a business environment.
Enter The Concept of Touchpoints
To better understand customer experience, we need to familiarize with touchpoints and what they mean in an event environment. A touchpoint is usually an interaction a customer has with a brand.
If you take an event, visiting an event website to purchase a ticket is a touchpoint. Calling the event staff to ask information about the event is a touchpoint. Asking someone on the showfloor where the restrooms are is a touchpoint. Looking at a video recap of the event on Youtube is a touchpoint.
An experience is the sum of all these interactions, over a long period of time.
While in the past in events most of the touchpoints happened during the event, social media changed that forever. Touchpoints are now also digital and extended the life cycle of the event to the full year.
Good vs Bad Experiences
In order to perform well in the eyes of our attendee, we need to delight them at every touchpoint. The evaluation of our event will be a direct result of how we performed at each stage.
A memorable experience is one where the event professional has set up the event for success at every step of the event planning and execution stage. Of course we can prioritize different touchpoints in terms of how they resonate with our audience, nonetheless with a proliferation of information and content online, needs have evolved and priorities don’t work as they used to.
For example, take food. It was and still is an important element of a conference – but we want more. We look at things such as how many electricity plugs you have on the showfloor, if you are using livestreaming. Our taste and expectations are much more detailed and harder to satisfy.
That means that attention to detail is paramount for the event professional that wants to give memorable experiences, but also innovation and delight need to be brought in to really make a mark with our audience.
Delight is not only meeting but exceeding expectations. It’s providing an unexpected twist, at all touchpoints.
It’s not a To Do List Matter: Enter Engagement
Another overused word in events is engagement. This is the de facto go to buzzword when experience has been overused. If it’s not all about the experience, it’s going to be all about engagement.
Because it’s all about engaging experiences. And it is! But we need to understand what that means. I dissected the meaning of engagement in the book Engaging Events. So let’s look what happens when we add engagement to experiences.
The element that we add here is a concept of interaction between you, the brand, the event planner and the audience, your customer. You are willing to establish rapport and create the basis for a relationship at every touchpoint.
You are showing a willingness to help, deliver value, answer questions, ask for opinions, connect your performers with your audience.
But here’s a twist. It’s not only about what you do to make attendees feel part of the event. Attendees will in fact judge the event based on how the positive interactions they had with other attendees. Connecting attendees to attendees and ensuring you have set up spaces for connection at all possible opportunities will boost your memorability through the roof.
This co-creation element is unique to services and even more so to events.
Event Planners: The Masters of The Experience Economy
Event professionals by nature are the true leaders of the experience economy. They have been doing it for years, even before it was fashionable and they have been instructing their suppliers on how to accommodate memorable experiences, hotels included.
An event has less time to impress than a product or a service. While you may shop every week at your favourite supermarket, you attend a big event usually once a year. The pressure to be ready is enormous. The attention to details is massive. The planning is scrupulous and takes care of everything, with multiple backup plans.
The fact that we are experience masters by nature does not make our job easier. Evolving needs of attendees make our daily challenge even more resonant. We need to compete with online content, social networks, virtual reality. Many try to replicate the feeling of face to face online, in most cases this turns into a stronger need to attend events.
This is why smart event professionals are succeeding like never before. They capitalize on engaging events, they are ready at every step of the way, whether it’s technology, centerpieces, speaker selection or security.
As an event planner you are a leader of the experience economy. You will drive forward a rapidly evolving service market. You have the tools, the experience, the stamina it takes to make events memorable experiences. Now go out and show the world what you are capable of.
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