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As part of the “backstage crew,” we see a variety of methods and strategies that event planners use to promote their events and engage their audiences. While there’s no universal guidebook for securing 100% attendee registration or participation, we can share a few best practices that nearly 40 years of event hosting experience provides. Here’s a selection of pointers that we’ve observed from our most successful planner clients and their events.

[1] Sell the Whole Experience

Most attendees are motivated to register for and attend conferences by two core elements:

(1) the essential schedule of educational and social events that provide insight and connections, and

(2) everything to see and do beyond the conference — local attractions, fun shopping, great dining, and experiences that showcase the local culture.

Attendees want (need) to know there is life beyond the brain-dump classroom or theater-style sessions and structured mingling schedule. Building in and promoting a work-play balance says that the organization values its attendees’ participation and promises an overall rewarding experience. Contributing factors that can entice attendance may include the venue’s attractiveness and location along with its proximity to walkable or short-drive amenities. The facility’s sales or event managers should be able to provide “whole experience” suggestions, or a planner can always partner with the local CVB for the latest promotional materials and incentives that planners can include with the registration information.

Engage attendees with local shopping, dining, and experiences

Creative considerations may mean structuring an entire conference or a portion of events in nontraditional settings, such as historic homes or buildings, farms and barns, rooftop venues or gardens, vineyards or breweries, warehouses or industrial buildings, or nature preserves or park-like settings.

Adding elements of wellness and mindfulness can work for both hybrid and in-person attendees:

•  Strategic breaks to initiate creativity

•  Movement breaks to promote mental and physical stretching

•  Fresh air breaks that moves attendees outdoors or into a change of scenery

•  Tech-free zones that encourage conversation, connectivity, and relaxation

•  Healthy food and beverage options

Incorporating local experiences can create good memories and positive feedback from conference attendees

[2] Share the Essentials

Surprises and unclear specifics can be a certain deterrent for attendees, especially those allocating work and personal time and navigating the related expenses of traveling to a conference or convention. There’s a lot of uncertainty and variables that attendees are juggling these days. In response, more effective event marketing gives attendees plenty of information to help set their expectations and make decisions.

Attendees are looking for more than When and Where they’re supposed to be — any extra information that planners can share may spark the “let’s go” decision to attend! Consider including:

•  Event safety precautions and protocols

•  Travel options with contact information, promotional codes, and time-distance travel from the airport

•  Attire suggestions, given the location, time of year, or special events

•  New formats, platforms, or event logistics that may impact some or all attendees

•  And of course, those sneak peek tidbits that encourage experienced or prospective guests to attend:  keynote speakers, new products or incentives, or special activities.

Venues that offer safe, walkable options beyond the conference agenda help create greater value for attendees

Every event has different goals — share knowledge, grow membership, increase awareness — and its marketing messages should paint the best overall picture for members, encouraging them to attend, have a great experience, and make good memories.

We continue to see the efforts and creativity of planners to give their guests relevant, real life experiences. We have a motto at the core for every event hosted at Grand Wayne Convention Center:  “Make Good Memories.”  It’s what we do, and we’re happy to help event planners attract attendees, both in-person and remotely.

Let’s talk about how we can help you create an amazing event. Contact one of our Sales Managers and tell us about your event!