In a day in age when people have little to no time, event guests will only stick around for the important stuff. No one leaves an event early if they are engaged and enjoying themselves. Early departures are a sign that attendees have lost interest and believe their time is better spent elsewhere. If you’re finding that this is happening a lot at your events, here are some ideas for keeping attendance levels high and encouraging people to network.
Don’t hold the highlights too early
Scheduling is important, especially when you’re running a longer event like a road show or trade show. The best way to keep attendees focused and engaged is to order the highlights and attractions properly. An entertaining and memorable opener is a key part of getting the audience enthusiastic, but you should also make sure that there are quality attractions throughout the entire event. Spread things out, especially if the show lasts all day.
Give guests something to stay for
Although it can be tempting to shorten a day, especially if the event started early in the morning, cutting things short is tantamount to missed opportunities. Arrange for a grand finale that includes exciting giveaways, speakers, and entertainment that they can’t bear to miss. One common (and successful) strategy is to provide a complimentary video recording of all workshops, presentations, and speakers for guests who stay until the end.
Give great gifts
Although the main attraction of any event should always be the content, the little things also matter to attendees. The little things free stuff. We’ve put together a recommended list of gifts we know to be useful and get a long life:
- Mobile device chargers: Look around at any event and you’ll see that everyone is constantly on their phone, texting, tweeting, and checking their email. By lunchtime, almost all phones will be at 50% battery life, at a push. If you give out free mobile chargers, not only will it be a great takeaway, guests will be more likely to stay for longer.
- Fun seasonal items: One way to make your swag bags memorable is to fill it with unique seasonable items. If you’re hosting a summer conference, miniature sunscreen and sunglasses would be welcomed as giveaways.
- Reusable water bottles: Reusable water bottles are simple but valued swag items. They’re convenient, make it easy for attendees to stay hydrated, and send the message that sustainability is important to the event organisers. Be extra environmentally friendly by choosing glass.
- Notebooks: Good quality notebooks never go a-miss. The key is not to overdo the branding so guests are more likely to use them in the office and in meetings.
Ensure everything is branded so guests will have a constant reminder of the event and your brand. Hopefully, guests will take your gifts to the office and coworkers will also be exposed to your branding daily.
Smart scheduling and strategic giveaways can mean the difference between attendees heading out the door after intermission or sticking around to get the full networking benefit that your event represents. When they finally leave feeling that they have gotten maximum value from the conference, it makes all of the extra effort worth it.