How do you get the most out of conference events you’re hosting? Remember, if you do it right, if the event is a success, and if attendees are happy, you’ll earn more revenue.
Do Live Events Still Work?
First, let’s quickly review why it’s still important to have a live event when apparently everything can be done quicker, cheaper, and more conveniently using webinars.
Here are at least 7 benefits of hosting a live event:
1. When people meet in person, it is much easier to form meaningful relationships and exchange relevant information. Attendees will mingle and network, and it will also give your team a chance to connect with customers and vendors and form personal relationships.
2. Hosting an event will help you build your brand across a range of demographics as you will attract a variety of attendees from different places and professions.
3. Establishing yourself as a thought leader will allow you to associate the success of the conference with your brand. This will create customer loyalty; and as people come to know, like, and trust your business, you’ll increase sales and improve referrals.
4. You’ll understand your customer’s needs, wants, and desires much better, and you’ll also understand how suppliers run their business. This will make it easier for your business to create products and services that appeal to your customers (as opposed to statistical information on what you think they like). In addition, understanding how suppliers run their business, will make it easier to choose your best suppliers, negotiate discounts and create more efficient transactions.
5. You’ll develop professionally because you’ll learn as you teach or arrange for keynote speakers.
6. You’ll stumble upon new ideas, make unexpected business connections, and develop new partnerships.
7. You’ll expand your business network — and so will your attendees as they meet each other.
Organize your Conference
Here are 5 steps to take to make sure everything runs smoothly:
Step #1: Define your Goal
What is your goal?
Unless you have a clear goal, you will not be able to make relevant decisions. Before planning an event, you have to have a list of good reasons why you’re doing it. Establishing a goal will give you a sense of direction and help guide decisions.
Step #2: Generate a Guest List
Who will you invite?
With a clear goal in mind, you will be able to identify your guests. You will want to reach out to key people in your business, business owners in complementary niches, target customers, and vendors.
Step #3: Select Time and Venue
Where and when will you have your event?
Choose time and place based on the best time and most convenient location for your attendees.
The best times are when your attendees will not have any conflicting schedules like holiday seasons, peak business times, or other conferences. So, be sure to choose a time when your attendees will be able to attend without too much thought.
The most convenient location is one that is central, has excellent parking, and can accommodate the number of people you plan to invite.
Step #4: Create a Budget
How much will it cost?
Unless you have a budget, you will have no frame of reference to determine costs.
Think in terms of return on investment. Will the money you spend improve your business? Is there some way to measure these results?
A budget will help you put things in perspective and prevent you from spending more than you need to host a successful event.
Step #5: Inspire Value
How will people get the most out of the event?
What you’re basically doing is creating an experience for people. With a little forethought, you can make sure they come away with a good experience, feeling inspired, entertained, and, of course, educated.
Think about using an event or conference app that attendees can download into their mobile devices, putting the details of the event into the palm of their hands, delivering the most up-to-date information, and helping them keep track of date, time, and place.
You will not need to overwhelm anyone by mailing flyers, brochures, calendars, RSVP requests, or other printed materials. Your staff can focus on other things while your customers can create their personalized agendas without having to sort through a sheaf of papers. Announce your downloadable app through your social media channels and on your website with instructions on how to download it and install it into a mobile device.
Another thing you can do to improve the experience is select exciting keynote speakers, offer informative product demonstration, and organize games, quizzes, and competitions with a prize.
It’s important to engage attendees in some ways rather than expect them to passively absorb lectures. Find ways of including a workshop to keep people interested. Serve food and drinks. Offer free consulting, coaching, or mentoring options.
Technically speaking, the conference is not over after it’s over. You must elicit feedback from attendees. Run an online survey, send out an email, and even mail out comment cards. By understanding what guests liked and didn’t like about your conference, you’ll be able to build rapport with customers and create loyalty as well as improve how well you run future conferences.