Guests remember the bad along with the good, and that influences how they perceive your next event. Building ROI from events starts with guaranteeing guests the best experience you can provide.
“A fish walks into a bar…”
It sounds like the start to a bad joke, right? But, we often forget from event to event when a guest shows up, despite how passionate they are about the company, product, or cause, there will always be one person who feels like a fish out of the water. At that moment, we have the chance to engage with the guest or not. Everything rides on their experience.
We can influence some of their experience directly, like when we provide a swag bag of memorable goodies, or indirectly when a server mixes up a specially requested meal to the wrong table.
The secret to year-round guest engagement lies in your tools
Event technology, used well, is the magic crystal that helps us plan out these scenarios to make sure guests have the best possible experience. The tools within the platform allow event planners ways to engage year-round and increase our job efficiency so we can focus on intelligent experiential targeting, rather than getting bogged down in a dozen different spreadsheets.
So how can we engage year-round while still managing day-to-day tasks? Data.
Think about your customer’s journey and how they would fit into one of the following three categories. Through data collection, you will begin to formulate where guests should start in their journey and how they will progress from one stage to the next based on their engagement.
The goal is to move them from the left to the right and increase the number of loyal guests in your pipeline.
These guests are your continued supporters and the ones who can influence the engaged guests or bring new guests to events which increases your profits. Build a plan around the loyal and engaged guests with two or three touch points throughout the year in addition to the standard communications you have for the annual event. Acknowledge that they are important to your company. Let them know an insider tip about a new product release before it goes public. Send them a birthday card or a Thanksgiving card letting them know you appreciate their patronage.
How to build rapport with guests from the get-go
We can do even more at the event itself to bring guests from engaged to loyal. By collecting specific and intentional information each time a new guest registration occurs in our event registration system, we capture data that helps us build a rapport with our guests, and allows us to personalize their experience and convert them into returning customers.
For example, if you request for a birthday as part of the registration form, and your event falls on the same date as your guest’s birthday, you can provide a special dessert for that person. With smart technology and planning, you can follow these steps:
- Assign the guest their table and annotate in the system the birthday
- Create a VIP notification to you or your assistant once the guest arrives and checks in
- Surprise the guest with their special acknowledgement
Now, this is a simple example of how you can build a rapport with the guest at one event, but imagine having the data to expand your reach throughout the year.
Turning it all into a ROI building master plan
What impact could you make on your bottom line if you turn that guest into a loyal customer because they can get inside tips about new product launches or future event notifications? Start implementing the practice by picking one event to focus on this spring or select an annual meeting. Make specific goals on which data points you want to collect and make a strategic plan on how you can implement through the year post-event. Follow through with the steps and repeat with the next event.
You might also be interested in how to get more guests with your event RSVPs to make sure you’re getting the people you need through the door.
As you look to 2017 and build your strategic events and meeting plans, look beyond the traditional ways of dollars and cents, and look at the investment of keeping a customer through experiences that stand out. You will create a bigger impact beyond the event by engaging your attendee throughout the year and rewarding them for their loyalty.