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Engaging First-Time Conference Attendees

Engaging First-Time Conference Attendees: 4 Tactics to Try

Of course you want to provide an exceptional experience for ALL of your conference attendees, but ensuring that happens for your first-time attendees is particularly important. Their decision to attend future events (and possibly even renew their membership) depends heavily on that first experience, so going the extra mile for those folks, in particular, is certainly worth it.

What does “going the extra mile” for your first-time attendees look like? Here are a few tactics worth trying:

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6 Questions to Ask Your Members BEFORE Planning an Event

Posted by Callie Walker

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We all know the importance of asking for feedback - and most of us are pretty good at actually doing so. But what about asking for input? Are we doing that enough?

Chances are, the answer’s no...or there’s at least room for improvement. Take your events for example. The whole point of hosting events is to engage your members and provide them with value. That said, there’s nothing more frustrating than planning an event and not having your members engage with you - or at least not the way you wanted them to.

To prevent that from happening, why not ask for input from your members prior to your planning your next event. That way, you can essentially give them what they want - a win-win for both parties.

Not sure how to obtain input or what types of questions to ask? Here are six questions we recommend asking your members BEFORE planning an event:

1. What type of event would you like to see?

This one’s pretty broad, but it’s worth asking. Some of your members may want a traditional, in-person conference. Others may want an online event, such as a virtual conference with some kind of social component. Some may even want a combination of the two. Either way, the more input you can get from your members, the better you can plan your association’s next event.

2. What would you most like to get out of an event?

This is CRUCIAL to know because it directly correlates with value. If you can give your members what they want, you’re essentially providing them with value. And that’s the goal! Ask your members if they’re looking for educational content, networking opportunities, certification credit, etc. Then deliver on those “wants” at your next meeting or event.

3. What topics are of particular interest to you right now?

If your event is more educational in nature, then you want to make sure you’re delivering on topics that are of interest to your members and potential members. Ask them what their big concerns are (as they relate to your industry) in the upcoming year. Ask them what trends they’re interested in and would like to know more about. Then, plan your sessions (and perhaps even keynote) accordingly.

4. What have we not had in the past that you would like to see at one of our events in the future?

This is a pretty vague question and you may get some weird responses, but it’s a way to get your members thinking about items/offerings they’d like to see at your next event. For example, a quiet room or a charging station.

Sometimes, we don’t know of problems or weak spots unless we experience them personally. That’s why it’s so critical to get your members’ input. They’ve experienced your events first-hand, so they can offer insights better than anyone else.

5. What type of swag/giveaways would you like to see?

Remember how we said there’s nothing worse than planning an event and not having your members engage with you? Well ordering swag and not having people pick it up is a close second. Those items cost money, and that’s something your association can’t afford to waste.

That said, ask your members what promo items they’d like to see at your next event. Sure, some of them may be way out of your budget, but some of them may be good ideas - or at least spark a few new ones!

6. Is there anything else you’d like to share with us regarding upcoming meetings and events?

Last but not least, leave the floor open for additional comments/suggestions. One of your members may have a brilliant idea that doesn’t necessarily answer one of the questions listed above. Don’t cut them off. Give them a platform to speak out and help. That’s what all of this is designed to do. To help your association be better than before.

Want more tips for planning your next meeting or event? Check out our Complete Guide to Association Event Planning below!

Association Event Planning: The Complete Guide  Best practices for before, during, and after an event Download this guide

Topics: association management, event planning, member engagement, membership management, Small Staff Chatter

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