McDonald’s Revamps Physical, Digital Experiences to Boost Engagement
See how the fast-food giant translated feedback from its convention task force into action at this year’s event.
More than 13,000 McDonald’s owner-operators, franchisees, corporate staff, and suppliers from around the world gathered at the Orange County Convention Center April 11 to 14 for the company’s biennial conference. Based on input from a task force of about two dozen owner-operators from around the world, organizers revamped the event to create a more meaningful experience for attendees.
“Our focus was on customization and personalization, and delivering content that supports our attendees’ priorities instead of one-size-fits-all,” said Lisa Fingerhut, McDonald’s engagement project manager for meetings and events. Task force members indicated that the exhibit floor, at 750,000 square feet, could be overwhelming. So Fingerhut and her team asked the company’s market leaders to identify areas of the floor that would be most relevant to their markets and then used that information to create experience maps within the event app. “This way our attendees can see what their market leaders suggest they focus on. It really helped prepare them to experience convention in a way that is most relevant to them, and it saved them a lot of time,” Fingerhut said.
To meet the needs of the event’s very diverse, global audience, organizers also added more options for interpretation services. In addition to real-time translation of all of the education sessions in eight languages, attendees could request “interpretation-on-demand” through the app. Fingerhut said this was added based on feedback that some attendees might need help while visiting exhibit booths and meeting with suppliers.
Also new this year, organizers opted to record all of the general sessions and talks from internal and external subject matter experts, rather than live-streaming them, which they had done in 2014. “We are really looking to extend our audience. Two years ago when we streamed the sessions, we didn’t get a lot of R.O.I. for it because we are global, and live-streaming only hits the right audience at the right time of day,” Fingerhut said. The videos are available on-demand to both attendees and non-attendees, and as of Monday some had received more than 1,200 views.
To reflect a change in the McDonald’s corporate structure that occurred in the past year, organizers also changed the layout of the event. Fingerhut said the company used to be organized by geography, so at past conventions, there were designated areas where attendees from each region of the world could congregate. Now the markets are grouped according to business priorities, so organizers opted to create one large space of about 40,000 square feet for networking and meeting dubbed the “Engagement Center.”
“Now it’s the home base on the exhibit floor, and it’s designed to help folks really connect and learn and recharge. We’ve got leadership chats each day, we have meeting spaces that can accommodate groups of many sizes, we have sections designated by color to make it easier to say, ‘Meet me in the yellow area,’ and we have engagement hosts stationed throughout to create that extra level of hospitality,” she said. The space was flanked on each end by full-service McCafés, one with menu items and staff from McDonald’s locations in the United States and the other with menu items and staff from Latin America.