If you changed hats for a few days and went to events instead of planning them, you might notice multiple similarities regarding the attendee experience. It makes sense if you think about it: Planners usually follow the same trends, read the same literature, and replicate ideas from the same leading professionals.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it might lead to some quality and personalization issues. You see, when attending events, people expect to enjoy unique experiences and build pleasant memories. This can’t happen if you’re copying other event planners and doing the exact same things others are doing. Your event must deliver original and unique adventures, things your guests have never experienced before.
As the media entrepreneur Kevin Van der Straeten highlights “A well-filled programme with an original theme is not always enough. In order to really get through to your audience, you need to provide them with a genuine experience, an experience that will linger long in their memory. If you are able to engage people’s emotions in this manner, you will be better able to build up long-term, sustainable relations and they will be quicker to pick up and accept your message. The art of creating this kind of experience consists in the development of a total concept with a high WOW!-factor.”
How do you achieve that? Check out this list of tips to help you wow your attendees:
Tip #1. Achieve maximum event personalization
Group your attendees into different categories and give each group a customized experience. For example, if you’re running a big conference with multiple event sessions, help your guests navigate the event program by asking them some questions during the registration procedure. Then, generate individual programs according to their needs and motivations.
You can also do this for the networking session. Think about setting up a matchmaking dynamic and help your attendees schedule one-to-one meetings with people who interest them based on their goals.
If your event has multiple editions, you can prepare separate brand experiences for recurring guests and for newcomers. If you have some international attendees, you can organize an airport pickup especially for them, and offer customized assistance. The key element here is to build an experience based on special attention.
Tip #2. Transform the host city into your venue
It’s trendy (and efficient) to rent unusual venues for events. But look beyond the walls of your rented venue and use the urban environment as an extended event venue.
For example, instead of inviting experts to your event, bring the attendees to the experts’ workplaces. (It’s important to note that this works mostly for small events.) For bigger events (and nice weather), you can work with the municipality to organize an outdoor space near the venue for the networking session or a roundtable talk. This will help the attendees experience the city’s culture while also being engaged outside of the event environment itself.
Tip #3. Get creative with the entertainment
Look into your local cultural offerings. You might find some interesting activities, like dance groups that combine traditional and modern dance or a wine-tasting session where two actors are role-playing throughout the experience.
Anything that is out of extraordinary and unfamiliar to the attendees will become memorable. Don’t limit yourself (and your guests) to traditional entertainment options and find something truly unique.
Tip #4. Plan experiential networking sessions
What’s it like to get to know a person while sitting on a chair that hangs from the ceiling? All these little, yet unusual details will add a specific flavor to your attendees’ networking dynamic and get them out of their comfort zone while providing them with an immersive experience.
Tip #5. Play with the boundaries between formal and informal
Your event shouldn’t remind people of an Army routine, where everyone follows the same schedule and rules. Mix formal and informal environments to help your attendees relax and connect with each other by interacting in both formal (one-to-one meetings, for example) and informal contexts.
Think about separating your guests into groups and invite them to a day-long experience that revs their adrenaline. Consider exploring a natural park, ice skating, or trying an escape room. These activities will vary depending on your event’s location and your guests’ preferences.
To give your attendees outstanding experiences, think of your event as a unique environment that can’t be duplicated. Choose the experiences you want to provide (considering the profile of your attendees and your final goals) and design truly unforgettable dynamics.