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Event Marketer’s Guide to Attendee Engagement

Engagement is a familiar topic for event organisers but how important is it to keep your attendees actively engaged throughout your event?

According to Bizzabo Event Marketing 2019: Benchmarks and Trends Report, attendee satisfaction is directly tied to the success of the event, with 33% of event organisers rating attendee engagement and satisfaction as the top metric for measuring the success of an event.

While event organisers may have lots of different goals in mind for their events, the attendee engagement metric seems to have the most impact on all other business and event strategies.

For instance, an attendee that is highly satisfied with an event may be more likely to become a customer in the future. In fact, 74% of event attendees said that they have a more positive opinion about the company, brand, product or service being promoted after the event. EMI & Mosaic (2016). Highly satisfied attendees are also more likely to return to your future events.

So, what is engagement?

We spoke to Michele Laine, BREC’s audience engagement expert about what event engagement means to her.

“Generally speaking, an engaged attendee is a satisfied attendee, and it’s all about creating a captivating experience for your attendees. Engagement is about deepening the audience experience by creating a personal connection with the event. This may be aspirational or social but above all needs to be accessible.”

How do you make sure your audience is engaged at your event?

We’ve curated our top five tips and tricks to help you do just that and you’ll be surprised that great attendee engagement doesn’t have to cost the earth.

Top Five Tips to Enhancing Event Attendee Engagement.

For Event Organisers

#1. MAKE IT SOCIAL

95% of event organisers agree that live events provide attendees with a valuable opportunity to form in-person connections in an increasingly digital world. (Bizzabo, 2019) Humans are social creatures, so maximising on this at your next event will certainly impact your customer satisfaction metrics.

Make room for conversation by creating a designated space for networking, like a networking lounge or bar area, where attendees can sit-down and get to know each other. It will also keep your attendees from chatting too loudly during seminars.

More and more events already do this anyway, but it’s worth repeating: a hashtag is a great way to tie your event together online and offline. Setting up a hashtag on Twitter and Instagram gives attendees a shared online space to talk about your event. It provides a way for delegates to not only connect with event speakers and sponsors but also with their peers.

Setting up a live event stream is really pretty straightforward these days. You can use YouTube or Facebook Live to broadcast talks straight from the stage to any device. A live stream is obviously a great way to engage people who didn’t attend but it’s also a fantastic way to engage with event attendees, giving them a platform to comment and provide real-time feedback or even just take a breather while still staying tuned to what’s going on at the event.

#2. TWEAK YOUR FORMAT

Shaking up your session formats will not only get people’s attention, but it will also encourage new ways of engaging, learning, collaborating and networking at your event. A room full of people quietly listening to a speaker drone on doesn’t resonate with today’s event-goer. That’s why many events are turning to new speaking formats to captivate their attendees.

One such format is campfire sessions. These sessions are led by a facilitator who guides the discussion with one or more experts. Lasting about 30 minutes, these real-time conversations are more engaging and laid-back than formal presentations.

Lightning Talks give speakers a limited amount of time to make their presentation – no more than 10 minutes which means many ideas can be presented within a short time frame and it helps to keep your delegates engaged.

The World Café format is a great way to host large group dialogue and gets delegates up on their feet. By switching your layout from theatre style to round-tables, delegates can move between each round table discussion, which is hosted by a presenter. Each host has no more than 15-20 minutes to lead the discussion and at the buzzer delegates can move on to the next discussion table.

#3. INTERACTIVE FOOD STATIONS

What better way to engage your delegates than through food. Food is a great ice-breaker – it unites people and can leave a lasting impression. So why not leave those party pies off the menu and imagine the delight your attendees will feel as they discover multiple interactive food and beverage stations dotted throughout your event?

From a customisable champagne cocktail bar to aerial waitressing or a live stir-fry station, a delicious taco or poke bowl station, to a wall of donuts. There’s plenty of creative ways to feed your attendees and wow them at the same time!

Unlike traditional catering options, interactive food and drink stations give attendees an opportunity to interact with one another. The connections they make can live beyond your event and improve attendee satisfaction.

#4. LIVE ENTERTAINMENT

Your B2B conference strategy may be all about promoting industry best practices and thought-leadership but it doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Give your delegates a break to relax and have a bit of fun.

Hire stilt-walkers and magicians to engage your attendees on the ground. Then let the death-defying acts of contortionists, acrobats and aerial performers give them something to talk about and make it easier to break the ice when networking. It will also give some great opportunities for your content team to capture and share via your event marcoms channels.

#5. EVENT GAMIFICATION

While you may be thinking “what is it?”, gamification can be described as taking the competitive nature and structure of gaming and applying them to things outside the world of entertainment. In the event industry gamification means attendees can be fully immersed into your event and will at the same time be playing while they learn and network!

Some fun ideas include a scavenger hunt which makes the learning process more active. It’s also a great way to encourage your delegates to engage with your sponsors or exhibitors during the event.

A pub-quiz-style trivia game focused on questions about your event’s focus or theme is a great way to keep your delegates engaged during break-out and keynote sessions. Or a simple raffle is a great way to incentivise your delegates to stay to the end of your event.

For those looking for event tech, consider using an event app like Sli.do, which lets attendees answer polls and quizzes from their smartphones and see their answers on a screen in real time. You can even get creative and award points to the attendees for attending sessions, visiting particular stalls in an expo, engaging in the networking platform and being active in the event community. You can track this easily using event analytics. Maintain a board with each attendee’s score. This could be displayed on your event website or an event app.

If you’re planning an event and need help to bring your delegate engagement strategies to life, the BREC Events team have decades of experience and expertise in the entertainment and live event industry and are ready to help create the perfect experiences for your attendees. Contact our team today.

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