Event planners constantly live in the space of how to attract more attendees and get them more engaged. If you're like me, you spend the majority of your time thinking about how to increase event registration and boost revenue, and I'm always looking for cool ideas to steal.
I am writing this from the Vino Volo in the Austin airport while waiting out a two-hour weather delay. But today, I have only myself to blame for this inconvenience. You see I'm on a mileage run, getting those last 1,500 miles I need to keep my Gold status. I never thought I would be this person. I've rolled my eyes at others who have done this previously, but that was before I tasted that sweet, sweet status.
The upgrades to first class alone are worth it as well as the excellent customer service I receive when I call that special phone number. I've been spoiled. So, I spent my own money to take a trip I didn't need because the airline was offering something I wanted.
Besides considering if my priorities were off, it got me thinking, how I can replicate this in my events?
I started flying with the same airline more for practicality than anything else. But once I started earning points and getting perks, I was hooked. I now check that airline first when I book; much like someone who checks the dates of their favored conference before committing to another event.
So, how can I get that attendee to actually spend more money at my event and provide perks that are so important to them that they spend extra money and extra time to be there?
On January 7 at PCMA Convening Leaders, Marriott and PCMA released the latest research in their “The Future of Meetings and Events” series. The first of those trends is all about creating hyper-personalized experiences, tailored for individual needs. Combine this with the airline model of collecting points, and a lot of ideas start to take shape.
What if “Gold Level” attendees got the coveted aisle seats in the general session room? Or a lounge with free snacks? Combine that with a speakers’ lounge and now you have a V.I.P. networking experience. Or maybe priority access to the hotel blocks for a citywide event? A mug that gives free refills at the convention center concession stand? Maybe a complimentary shoe shine while waiting in line? Are there ways you can remove friction to create a more seamless experience for them? There are a million little things that you can think of that will make someone feel special at your event.
And once they are hooked, you've got ’em. Your event is no longer just a necessity for their job: it is a place they want to be and an event they keep coming back to in order to keep their “status.” They will go out of their way for it. To achieve that, you must have something really cool in that gold-level lounge.