An Event Planner's Guide to Going Paperless (Painlessly)
There are plenty of reasons why going paperless at events is a great idea, but people often find change difficult. Despite the benefits, you may find your attendees or participants reluctant to make the switch to paperless technology.
When faced with roadblocks to your paperless plan, the key can be to plan for a gentle rollout. Making sure potential users are informed, engaged and given plenty of time can make all the difference to implementing a successful transition.
We’ve put together a 3-step approach that will help get the most reluctant of adopters on board:
Phase 1: Lay the Groundwork
Before introducing paperless technology to your participants, try all or a combination of the following:
Include participants in the planning process.
How would they like to receive information, training, and support on technology use? Suppliers may offer a free trial. It’s an excellent, no-obligation, way for people to get to grips with new tech.
Start with just one type of paperless tech.
If multiple platforms are going to overwhelm users, start them off gently with maybe an event app or registration system.
List and share the benefits.
Tell your participants what benefits paperless processing will bring. If cost savings are significant, ask them how they would like to see the savings put to use e.g. improved Wi-Fi coverage.
Make printed directories available by request only.
This gives reluctant participants the comfort of knowing a printed brochure is there if they need it. Meantime, offer most of your event content on the app.
Prepare your marketing campaign.
Inform, train, and excite users about the upcoming change. Utilise a drip-feed email campaign that delivers enticing information about new features and benefits.
Phase 2: At The Event
At the first event where you actually use the paperless technology, here are a couple of suggestions:
Make sure users have easy access to the technology.
Complicated logins are adoption killers, so make opting in only a click or a swipe away.
Provide on-site assistance.
Your tech provider may be able to provide an on-site expert to help new users. Your on-ground staff could also be an option. Training on-site staff to know how to use the app means they can troubleshoot for attendees.
Give users an incentive to use the paperless technology.
How about a free coffee coupon or drinks voucher for the event opener? Small incentives can really boost adoption rates.
Seek out feedback.
Glean as much information as possible about how the technology roll out is working. Review everything, positive or negative, with your staff and your provider. Just a simple fix can help deliver a better experience for you and your attendees.
Phase 3: Review & Plan
Once the event is wrapped, it’s important to gather feedback. Understanding if the rollout was a success means you can plan appropriately for the next event:
Build on your success.
If an event app turns out to be a winner, use the same approach to roll out a polling platform (to replace printed surveys) or digital signage (to replace banners).
Reward your users.
Thank them for their active participation. Let them know how it benefitted their organisation and the event. Focus on future plans and how they will make users’ lives easier going forward.
Your decision to go paperless is as much about leadership as it is about taking care of your audience. The change doesn’t need to be painful. With the right planning, the transition to a paperless event will be much smoother than you may have imagined.