The event industry is entering a new decade in which the next level of events will be to deliver transformative experiences. But what does this mean for professionals designing and organizing these events? Now, more than ever before, people are searching for events that bear the potential to transform them in some way - be it, fueling them with new knowledge, insights, inspiration, or new networks. What ultimately counts for the organizer and the attendees is that everyone leaves the event with utmost contentment and much richer in impactful experience.
Therefore, event design should place its focus on engaging attendees. In order to succeed in this, it is a prerequisite for you as an event organizer to view your attendees with a wider lens.
Simply put, do not only cater to your attendees’ business needs and expectations during the event but also show increased interest in their needs as ordinary people. Your events should holistically resonate with your attendees both on a professional and a personal level.
Sounds pretty basic and obvious? Well, it actually is. However, many event organizers still fail at delivering this transformative experience which attendees are craving because of the simple fact that they seem to forget that their attendees are normal human beings too.
There is a human being inside your attendee. Show that you know, understand, and care.
Having a 360 degree view on your attendees instead, opens up the opportunity to simultaneously ace three of the most crucial success drivers of events in 2020 and beyond: attendee engagement, personalization, and inclusion.
If you are now wondering how to best get started to eventually reach this holistic perspective on your attendees, you find an inspirational guideline in the following which narrows down the process into three building blocks.
First and foremost, your event is here to share knowledge and to bring like-minded people together to grow and inspire one another. On a professional level, there are many ways for event organizers to cater to an attendee’s individual business desires. This is where the phenomenon of personalization comes into play.
Maybe you yourself have been in the shoes of an event attendee before and have experienced this uncomfortable feeling of being a little lost among thousands of other professionals - not knowing who actually shares similar business interests for some meaningful conversation and networking. Not to mention the overwhelming size of some event venues and the packed agendas which put you under stress and pressure to find your own ways and to choose the sessions most valuable for you, while inevitably missing out on other parts of the program.
Event technology can substantially reduce confusion and stress.
The solution here is to implement cutting-edge event technology which can facilitate the creation of a more goal-directed, convenient, and seamless experience for your attendees. For example branded apps with interactive event maps, recommended program sessions based on individual interests and customized matchmaking with like-minded people can prevent confusion, insecurities, and stress. Moreover, these mobile apps can elevate the event experience beyond the mere hours physically spent at your event venue. Other tools like facial recognition will facilitate an inviting first impression of your event through seamless check-in experiences. Taking one step back, you can even set the tone and excite your audience before the event starts by making use of personalized email communication.
For sure, face-to-face interaction during events will not be compromised by technology. However, leveraging on the vast amount of opportunities of event tech in designing the backend of your event will enable you to create a more meaningful and personalized experience for every individual attendee.
Besides making sure that you meet your attendees’ professional needs and expectations, it is just as important to acknowledge their more basic, human needs as well. Therefore, it almost goes without saying to provide food and beverages with high nutritional value to give your attendees sufficient energy to keep their concentration and well-being levels on a high throughout your event. Trend research in this context for example shows a shift towards more plant-based and vegetarian alternatives and lower-calorie refreshments in event catering.
Add sessions supporting physical and mental health to your event agenda.
Moreover, wellness aspects going beyond catering gain popularity in event design. To support physical health, many event professionals have started to integrate 5km runs or yoga sessions into their agendas. One step further goes the care for attendees’ mental health. Offering some tech-free spaces, guided meditation or outdoor relaxing areas help people to disconnect for some time and to calm their minds in order to be able to fully take in upcoming sessions with a refreshed and balanced state of mind. That way, higher levels of attendee engagement and interaction are guaranteed and your attendees will feel that they take away much more from your event than only its educational factor.
Ultimately, if you are willing to go the extra mile, it can add considerable value to your event to cater to even higher human needs related to self-esteem and self-actualization during your event. Especially millennials - accounting for a huge portion of event goers today and in the future - are dedicated to make a difference in the world and to actively contribute to positive social change. Giving them the opportunity to do so during your event, will highly resonate with them and add a higher purpose to their experience. Practical ideas are any kind of effort related to sustainability ranging from energy efficiency and the use of reusable products to the support of tree-planting or ocean clean-up initiatives. Other projects could involve the support of social initiatives to improve society and the world as a whole. Addressing peoples’ desire to be part of something bigger will be highly appreciated by your attendees making you and your event the hero of the day.
It’s about purpose. Give your event attendees the opportunity to become changemakers.
Another aspect worth mentioning in this context is inclusion. In order to facilitate a memorable experience for all of your event attendees, think outside of the box by for example offering parents rooms, facilities for kids, or special spaces for prayer and meditation. Accounting for diverse circumstances and cultural backgrounds transforms your event to an inclusive and extraordinary environment having a lasting impression on your attendees.
When creating an event from a holistic perspective that fosters change in individuals, there are no limits to creativity. Ultimately, what has to be kept in mind throughout the entire event management process is that your events come to life through your attendees. And only happy and healthy attendees guarantee high levels of interactive engagement as well as meaningful output and best results for everyone involved.