We no longer create and plan events; we create unique, memorable experiences.
If you have decided to add events to your business, I’ll say, it’s a very smart decision. While smart, it also comes with it’s own issues. The event industry has changed and morphed over the years and you can’t just show up with good content and a badass keynote speaker. It won’t draw your attendees in and it will surely disappoint!
We have become a society who wants to see, touch and feel and we want to do it NOW.
How do we create an experience for our attendees and exceed their expectations?
How do we create the wow factor?
How do we keep them coming back year after year?
This is something that so many clients and event creators struggle with. I want to eliminate some of your struggle, but let’s take a jog down memory lane really quick. I want you to think about all of the events you have ever attended. What memories or experiences stand out to you in this moment? Are they good? Are they bad? Why did you like it? Why did you dislike it? Did that experience turn you off or turn you on from attending that particular event in the future?
Let’s take it one step further. Close your eyes, take a moment and think about the event that you want to create right now (yes, you have you close your eyes and stop reading for a second).
If you were attending your event, what kind of experience do you want to have?
What does the event sales page add or take away from the experience?
How does all pre-event communication enhance the experience?
What are you feeling when you arrive in the host city or country?
What kind of feelings and emotions are you feeling as you arrive at your hotel for check in?
How about when you walk into your hotel room?
Next, let’s walk through the event registration.
How do you feel? Calm, cool collected, nervous, excited, frustrated, angry, tired, ready to go home?
Then move yourself through the event, what excites you?
What type of personality or energy are you and what do you need?
Do you need space to decompress or are you ready to party all day, every day?
Is the food amazing?
Are you never leaving the buffet line?
Are you wow’d by the decor?
Does it impress you or are you completely blind to it?
How is the speaker line up?
Are you on the edge of your seat or are you trying to hide that yawn to not be rude?
Are you enjoying the connections you are making?
Are there even opportunities to make connections?
What’s the best thing you are feeling?
What makes you grumpy thinking about your event?
Ok, now that you’ve experienced your own event make note of the good that you experienced and the bad that you want to avoid.
Let’s take a look at the 7 areas that will help you create an AMAZING event experience.
1. The entire experience needs to be strategic.
You need to determine the outcome and end result that you want to create when the event is complete. The customer journey is through every element of your event will affect the outcome that you are aiming for. The key is to create each element of the experience to help your attendee follow the path to your desired outcome.
2. Make sure that your experience aligns with the message of your event.
What is your event message? What impact do you want to leave on your audience? The answers to these questions help you determine the kind of experience you want to create. If you are running a detox retreat, you may not want to have a dessert bar set up every night. While your attendees may LOVE the sweet treats, is that in alignment with your message and will your attendees really love it in the long run? Probably not.
3. Will the experience entice your target audience?
Who is your target audience. If you haven’t clearly defined that yet, then you need to go back and do that first. Based on your target audience, what kind of experience would attract them? Do they like a fun, dance party, let loose kind of experience or are they more low key, earthy or are they more straight laced, suit and tie? Based on this key piece, you can tailor and maximize the experience that you create for them.
4. Find ways to personalize the experience.
One of the best ways to create a personal experience is through our technology. Use your event technology to send personalized messages and tweets to your followers. I attended an event a couple of years ago and one of the sponsors set up fun, quirky, intelligent and sarcastic comments auto-responses on Twitter. It made the social experience WAY more fun and what it did was made you WANT to engage even more. Honestly, it was simply brilliant. If you are creating a smaller event, you can always do smaller, personal hands on touches. One fun way to personalize the experience is to custom monogram swag gifts. This is brilliant idea especially if you have your branding on that particular piece of swag.
5. Create an interactive experience.
Enhance the senses, create play and movement, humorous ice breakers are just a few things you can do. One of my clients loves to incorporate some kind of movement or dance at intervals throughout their event. It gets the blood flowing and snaps the audience attention back in place. Everyone these days LOVES a good tasting. Blind taste test some local wines or brews and create a fun, light hearted experience with your attendees. Photo booths have been a rage for awhile. You can set up one yourself (please don’t make it look half-assed) or you can bring in a vendor. You can customize your photo frames to match the branding and experience of the event.
6. Collaborate with strategic partners that will enhance your experiences.
There are a myriad of companies that will collaborate on events to get more exposure for their brand. One of my clients owns a boutique and she creates private VIP events and partners with the local restaurants to provide all the food and drinks. She also brings in a makeup artist and hairdresser for the women to get all dolled up with trying on new clothes. Venues are great to collaborate with if you can find the right one. You can create a solid foundation for an amazing experience if you can find unique and different venues.
7. Meet and exceed expectations.
Attendees come with high expectations based on who you are, what your brand is, what they see online and what bill of goods you sold to them. If there is anything in your event that is not genuinely in alignment they are going to pick up on that vibe so fast. The old adage ‘under promise and over deliver’ applies to events too. Yes, make the event sound amazing, but realistic. Create a level of excitement, but make sure that can be maintained throughout the event. Satisfaction and experience is an intangible metric, so a good way to find out if you met or exceeded expectations is to send out a survey to your attendees and speakers.
Download your own Event Planning Roadmap at http://eventsbylany.com
Image Credits: All images in this post are original.