What Event Attendees Want (And How To Give It to Them)

Every organiser wants to give their event attendees a great experience.  For 91% of event professionals, attendee satisfaction is the primary success factor. 67% of event organisers also measure ROI on attendee satisfaction. 

If event attendees leave an event feeling positive about their experience they’re much more likely to attend future events and deliver great word-of-mouth. But to create satisfied attendees, organisers need to know what attendees want and, more importantly, how to meet their expectations.

Over recent years, three drivers have established themselves as key reasons why people choose to attend an event: 

1. Improve or further their education (92%) *

2. The destination experience (78%) *

3. Networking opportunities (76%) *

Education

Event+Education

While conferences may have a reputation as an opportunity for a fun break from work, event delegates don’t see it that way.  Almost 100% of attendees stated that improving their learning is a primary factor in their decision to attend an event.  

This means event content is key.  Industry specific events and conferences need to deliver an agenda that covers timely topics and future trends.  Speaker sessions should include respected experts and thought leaders.  The keynote must be compelling and informative.   In addition, there may be master classes, Q&A sessions and panel debates.

While many event organisers are adept at curating exceptional event content that delivers multiple educational opportunities, problems may lie in ensuring attendees can access the content they need.

Personal Curation

An agenda can be overwhelming for event attendees. With so many events happening during the course of the conference, working out where they want to be and when can be tricky.  

Event apps that allow delegates to devise a personalised agenda help give clarity to busy schedules. Attendees choose the sessions they want to attend and allocate them to their own agenda.  They then have a personalised schedule that maximises the return on their time. 

Document and Abstract Storage

Highly technical conferences and events will often provide documentation known as abstracts, e.g. research papers, to support speaker and information sessions.  Historically these abstracts have been paper printed in bound documents that can number hundreds or thousands of pages.

Obviously these printed documents can be bulky and cumbersome for delegates to carry during an event. Which can be especially frustrating when only a proportion of the document may be relevant to them.  

App based event technology can manage and store these abstracts in a digital library.  Accessible via delegates’ mobile phone or tablet gives immediate access to whatever information they need wherever they are. Abstracts are stored in easy-to-search formats and can be exported for printing or wider circulation.

CPD Points

Many delegates will be looking to validate their education via Continuing Professional Development points (CPD).  Industry recognised CPD points allow many professionals to retain their status from year to year.

While industry events and conferences often provide opportunities for delegates to attain CPD points, recording and collating points can be tricky. Paper based forms require printing, distributing and validating.  

In-app recording makes collecting CPD points easier.  Validation happens automatically as delegates attend each session. 

Destination

Event Destination

Nearly 80% of people state that destination plays an important role in their decision to attend an event.  Of those, 20-30% say it is the deciding factor. 

Although destination is important, event attendees place an emphasis on different factors. Some are looking for an exciting location that offers new or interesting experiences. Some are more concerned about convenience and accessibility. How easy is it to get to? What parking options are there? Is it close to the airport?

Digital Guides

Delegates are often only at an event location for a few days. For those who are looking for great experiences at the destination, they’ll want to make the most of their time. 

Giving them information about what’s out there means event attendees can make the most of their time.  Digital guides and recommendations can be made accessible within an event app.  This gives attendees all the information they need in one place.  

The app can also include weather forecasts and interactive mapping so people can easily navigate their way around unfamiliar places.  

Travel 

For attendees who need detail around travel and accessibility, the in-app guide can include parking locations (and relevant restrictions), real-time flight updates and public transport options.

Networking

Event+Networking

In a world where so many of us connect and communicate through digital channels, it may be a surprise to find that many attendees still value face-to-face meetings.

Networking is an important conference element, with 76% of delegates citing it as a key factor in their decision to attend an event.  Even Millennials are looking for opportunities to connect in person; nearly half of this age group rate networking as ‘very important’. 

The key to ensuring event attendees maximise networking opportunities is to provide a mix of platforms where they can connect.

Digital Profiles

At an event with hundreds, if not thousands, of attendees it can be difficult to know who to meet and how to meet them.  Digital profiles allow delegates to find people who may provide a positive connection. Profile options include: role title, industry experience, location, company, areas of interest and areas of expertise. 

Group and Private Chat

Online chat channels are a great way to make an initial introduction or enquiry. It enables delegates to work out if a face-to-face meeting is likely to be beneficial.  Accessible via an attendee’s mobile device the chat channel can also be used to hold group discussions about specific topics.

Push Notifications/Alerts

If an event is holding networking specific sessions it’s important to get the right people to the right place. Mobile push notifications and alerts help remind event attendees that a networking session is coming up. The alert can also include time and location reminders.

Social Media 

Although social media is the communication channel of choice for people outside events, it’s a different story inside an event.  Only 42% of attendees are interested in connecting via social media. This is in contrast with over 70% who want to meet face-to-face.

This doesn’t mean social media is redundant at an event.  Different platforms can be used to promote specific sessions or chart trending topics.  Social media can be used to pose interesting questions that can be discussed during face-to-face meetings.

Getting Feedback

Event+Feedback

Once the event wraps it’s important to know how event attendees felt about their experience.  The best way to find out, of course, is to ask them.  But at the end of a conference, when attendees are gearing up to go home, getting a reasonable number to complete paper based surveys may be a challenge. 

Making the feedback process quick and easy will increase the number of survey returns.  Around 80% of event attendees will provide feedback if the process is simple. 

Offering a digital survey form that can be submitted online will increase completions.  Limiting the number of questions and focusing on the really important issues will also help boost survey returns. 

Summary

Meeting the key attendance drivers of education, destination and networking is important to ensure healthy attendee numbers and achieve high satisfaction ratings. 

However, to maximise delegates’ experience, event organisers should ensure information is easy to access and readily available. Digital platforms such as event apps can help deliver a positive experience and a successful event. 

 

 * Statistical data courtesy of The Decision To Attend Study, IAEE.