Most Innovative Meetings 2014: #9 Microsoft Convergence

The tech giant is focusing on increasing satisfaction for attendees by giving them the opportunity to purchase exclusive perks that upgrade their experiences.

By Mitra Sorrells December 9, 2014, 6:15 AM EST

In post-event surveys, conference attendees who purchased the Preferred Access Passes indicated one of the perks they valued most was preferred seating at the keynote sessions.

Photo: Courtesy of Microsoft

Microsoft has found a new and completely different way to encourage people to register early for its conferences, and it’s a strategy that also seems to boost attendee satisfaction.

Unlike the traditional “early bird” concept of offering discounted registration, Microsoft offered a limited supply of “Preferred Access Passes,” available for an additional $300 for its Convergence event in Atlanta in March. The passes gave purchasers a variety of perks, such as access to a block of rooms at the closest hotel, reserved seating for the keynote sessions, and a dedicated work lounge.

Not only did the 300 passes sell out before the early registration period ended, but also people who bought them reported a higher overall event satisfaction, a better understanding of corporate vision, and more likeliness to recommend Microsoft products than those who did not purchase the passes.“As a revenue-generating activity we are very satisfied with it. As an experience at the event we are very satisfied with it, and as something that added to the overall event objectives, we are even more excited that it appears it did that as well,” said Scott Schenker, Microsoft’s general manager of worldwide events. “As we move forward it becomes not how do we do this same thing for 3,000 people, but how do we have five or 10 experiences that 300 people are participating in that now allow 3,000 people to have selected what is most relevant to them.”

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