How we grew a client’s event attendance by 47% YOY

By November 24, 2014Business


Let’s face it. Events are a grind. We’re not talking the logistics, the details, the two-weeks-before-an event-dreams you have because you’re certain you’ve forgotten something. We’re talking about the ‘how to make it better every year’ kind of grind. And more specifically:  How to hit attendance metrics. How to hit pipeline metrics. Because we know those metrics are the deciding factor if an event will happen in the future. For us it’s always been about building a program versus an event. If we just focus on one moment in time, one two hour or one day time period, that’s not an event. So how did we grow our client’s attendance by 47% YOY?

Build a program.  Our client planned to host customers from across the country at their global conference.  With over 8,000 attendees at the conference, they wanted to ensure they connected with the 200 Canadian customers in attendance.  For us, it wasn’t just about a welcome reception, or a dinner, or a gimmick. It was about creating a community for their entire conference experience–connecting with customers on a personal level. Which meant our online program was as important as the physical events. From personal pre-event  communications to regular email updates and re-caps during the conference, to  twitter updates, Canadians were made to feel special. Like in this sea of 8,000 people, they mattered. We ensured they were all hosted at one conference hotel so that meet-ups and connections could happen organically.

Know your audience. After long days being talked at and in business meetings, we wanted to set a mood that wasn’t stuffy. We wanted relaxation. Networking. Executives perceived as real people.  This is where venues are key. We gave them venues that immersed them in the  city’s vibe – a city where food and music are renowned.We went with funky for the welcome reception. And a sit down dinner at a higher end venue for the second evening. Suddenly our invitation only events were the place to be, other countries were talking about us!
Socialize. Online. At events. And after the formal events. A Canada hashtag was created. And customers looked for regular updates, not just for our formal Canadian events, but informally. We connected on where to meet up for conference events so we could stick together. We planned informal after parties and let me tell you, they were as important as the business events!

Mobilize employees. All employees attending received an email that set expectations.  And they had their host game face on for the entire week! You know you have a good thing going when the final event over achieves attendance by 20%. And people pretending to be Canadian crashing our events. And of course, customer feedback to our client is always the best: “A special thanks for taking real good care of us. I’ve never had this type of positive experience at big vendor events like [names competitors].  Well done, guys.”