One of the most common buzzwords out there in the meetings and events industry is engagement; attendees want it, event planners try to facilitate it, and it’s continuously touted as a major component to successful events.
The problem is that while we all want attendees to be connecting through the latest engagement tools at our events, we don’t know where to start. In order to make sure people are getting the most out of your event offerings, you need to do the groundwork. Picking the right technology for your audience is crucial, but so is making sure that you have all your bases covered. With the constant evolution of technology giving you infinite ways to engage at your events, including these nine essential elements in your foundation will help you find success with any type of technology you choose.
Set the Groundwork
Technology and strong internet connections go hand in hand. Don’t rely on a venue’s WiFi network alone and consider investing in your own network all together. Have backup plans in place in case the WiFi goes out and create hot spots in areas where the connection is weak. Nothing disrupts the attendee experience more than an internet outage.
Attendees are often at different levels of tech-savvy-ness, so don’t always assume that if you put they technology out there, they’ll automatically know what to do with it. Consider having staff members available to produce demos or work at an IT help desk near registration.
Not only do you need to make sure that your attendees know how to use your technology, but majority of your onsite staff should as well. You should always have one main champion of your technology, someone who is the expert of your team who can train others. It is important if an attendee has a question on how something works your staff can either help solve their problem or know who to go to for the answer.
What’s great about using all this technology is that data and event ROI tools are often built right in. Look out for products with such features, as you’ll be able to gain valuable insight into what your attendees like and don’t like. One example is digital badges that track attendee hot spots in an exhibition hall. This information enables you to plan even more successful events in the future.
Now that you have made the important steps to facilitate your onsite engagement efforts, ensure that the technology you put in place promotes the following activities that attendees really respond to:
A common phrase when it comes to onsite technology is that it should “elevate, not replace” the human experience. Look for tools, like a mobile app, that allows attendees to connect one-on-one based on common interests and networking goals. In-app messaging and matchmaking are great features to be on the lookout for.
Attendees are usually at your event to learn something to bring back to their careers or everyday life. Consider new ways to learn that go beyond a speaker dispensing information to a crowd sitting in rows of chairs. New, smaller formats like campfire sessions, for example, have been shown to increase engagement and participation efforts. Tools that allow easy access to speaker slides and other materials (a mobile app works great here too!) makes taking home information a breeze.
If you want your tradeshow or exhibit hall to be a success, add gamification options and contests to the mix. Collecting achievement badges or completing a scavenger hunt is a great way to get attendees to hit every corner of the floor and to connect with sponsors they wouldn’t have before.
From live Q&A during a keynote speaker, to polls/surveys about their event experience, attendees want to be heard. Make it easy and exciting to do so with access to feedback on online, as well as on mobile devices.
Generate that “fear of missing out” feeling for your event by creating experiences that are hard not to share on social media. Everything from live streaming a famous speaker, to creating onsite photo focal points using projection mapping or building the perfect SnapChat Geofilter; all make attendees want to share that they were there. With that being said, creating and promoting special hashtags for these features even further increase engagement and allow you to track success.
Overall, engagement comes in many shapes and sizes, but they often share the same successful elements. By taking the extra steps to create a seamless experience and give attendees what they want out of your event, your engagement efforts will be unforgettable.