As an event organizer you know first-hand that no event is really about the world-class speakers and the high end production.
Although both are extremely important and create buzz, the real value lies in people attending the event.
To understand how to make your attendees fall in love with your event, start by answering these questions. Why do people come to events at first place? What is it they want to achieve? What do they want to get out of it?
Whether you are organizing a business conference or a themed fair, the key point is that people want to enjoy themselves, and it is your job to make them feel that way.
Having helped several tech conferences, matchmaking events and informal meetups, we noticed that the events which people truly love consist of 7 elements.
1) Appeal to your audience
Whom is your event for? This is the number one question every event organizer needs to ask before writing down the first line of plan. The more specific you are in your description, the better.
Don’t go for general phrases like “business people” or “foodies” – “startup founders seeking for funding” or “food innovators focusing on vegan market” give you a much better understanding on how to design the program and what partners to invite.
Once you know who your audience really is and what problem will your event solve for them, you will get more clarity on how to proceed with planning.
2) Determine the best place and time
Finding a perfect time and place that would suit everyone is nearly impossible. But you can maximize your chances by optimizing the date and venue according to your attendees schedule.
For example, if you are organizing a large tech conference, make sure the venue is up-scale, easy to reach with the public transport, and has a parking area.
Don’t plan it on Monday – that’s when business people are busy at work. From our experience, Thursdays and Fridays work best – conference drinks or an after party on Friday night is a great way to close the week. Most importantly, be creative when selecting your venue, dress your event to impress, as we speak.
For example, Riga-based startup conference TechChill went bold and chose VEF Culture Palace – monumental building from Soviet era mostly designed for cultural events. You are not expecting a startup conference to be held in a palace, are you?
3) Invest in production
While your one hand is managing the partners, it is time for the other hand to tap into the production process.
Our advice to you – don’t. Save yourself time and energy by hiring a professional event producer.
Event producer will not only transform your venue for you, but will take care of small details that make your event flawless.
For example, make a badge pick up process and registration smooth and simple, think about meeting areas and chill-out zones, where people can take a quick break or relax after a few hours of non-stop meetings.
Organize instant coffee supply and many other things you may not consider in the beginning. Last year Arctic15 had its own unicorn – the event producer happened to be a professional equestrian.
4) Connect people in a meaningful way
Seeing crowds passively consuming information from stage and empty demo areas, at events that position themselves as networking ones, is quite a common problem.
We believe this should be tackled in a new intrinsic way. That’s why we built the Deal Room app, that connects your attendees online and offline giving them an opportunity to get to know each other already before the event.
So instead of asking your attendees to passively consume information, give them a tool the opportunity to participate in various activities. Engage them in real time voting, or the other way around, let them off their smartphones and talk to each other whenever they have time.
5) Follow up after event is over
Getting off radar after the event is over is probably the worst mistake an event organizer can do. Don’t let your event live in a bubble.
Continue the discussion over social media, direct emails to partners and attendees, or more informal meet-ups that may occur out of the event.
If you really want to make sure the conversation continues send out regular newsletters reiterating what has happened at the event and updates about your next edition.
6) Use data to demonstrate the impact of your event
Your event produces massive amount of content and data, not only from your side but also from your partners and attendees.
Don’t let it flow through your fingers – use it to create post-event videos, quick wrap-ups of the sessions, value added pieces of data to your attendees, for example how many meetings did they have.
Ask your partners whether they might be interested in sharing a report or making an official announcement through your channels.
For example, last year Slush partnered with CoFounder magazine, that covers entrepreneurship and startup ecosystem in Europe. 10,000 people left the conference with the latest copy of the magazine.
Hope these tips gave you an idea on how to improve the quality of your events. Organizing events is hard, but also fun and rewarding business. Remember a quote from Maya Angelou? “People will forget what you say and what you do, but they will never forget how you make them feel.” As you long as you make your attendees feel good, you are on the right track.