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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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7 Event Planning Details That Associations Often Overlook

Posted by Callie Walker

Event Planning Details.jpg

The devil is in the details. We’ve all heard it, and most of us have lived it. But what details, in regards to event planning, tend to trip association professionals up the most? We’ve got seven:

1. Having miscellaneous supplies on hand

It’s so easy to get caught up in the items we know we need (name tags, pamphlets, computer chargers, etc.) that we often forget the items we might need - tape, scissors, a stapler, pens. It seems so obvious, sure, but when you’re running around with less than 24 hours until your annual event, a stapler isn’t exactly top of mind.

In the weeks leading up to your association’s event, have a list labeled “Misc. Supplies.” As you think of items you might need, jot them down. Then, a couple days before your event, revisit that list to make sure there aren’t any glaring holes.

2. Having “extra” (and enough of it)

This one’s tough because it’s kind of like a guessing game. You may never nail down “the perfect amount,” but do plan on having extra where and when it makes sense (and fits comfortably within your budget). We’re talking extra food, name tags, and event pamphlets, in particular.

3. Having staff and volunteer contact information handy (at all times!)

Let’s say, leading up to your event, email has been your team’s primary method of communication. Nothing wrong with that! But the second you leave for your actual event, you should have everyone’s contact information (phone numbers, in particular) handy. And not just you, but everyone else working and volunteering that day as well. So often we think, “Oh, if I need their number, I’ll just look it up later.” But what if there’s an issue with wifi? (I say this from experience.)

Bottom line: It’s just better to have those cell phone numbers handy.

4. Having more than enough staff at registration

When planning an event, it’s tempting to want to spread your staff and volunteers out - having a few people up front, a few people “backstage,” a few people outside - you get the picture. But, when your event first starts, you may want to consider having more people upfront than anywhere else - then transitioning those people later.

This may seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised at how many people get it wrong. Sometimes three people upfront SEEMS like enough, but hang-ups happen. And considering registration is the first thing people experience at your association’s event, you want it to go well.

First impressions matter so ample help is critical.

5. Having the wifi credentials printed or featured somewhere

Have you ever been to an event and NOT been able to connect to wifi? Not because of internet issues, but because you didn’t know the credentials. It’s frustrating!

Don’t do that to your members. You may be familiar with the wifi situation, but your members and attendees aren’t. Make it easy for them by printing and/or featuring the credentials somewhere. (And in fact, the more places you’re able to include it - on screen, in your pamphlets - the better.)

6. Having the event’s social media info printed or featured somewhere

We want people to engage with us at events, but we can’t expect them to if we don’t tell them how. That said, if you have an event hashtag, feature that prominently at your event. Include your association’s Twitter account as well so attendees know who to follow and tag. Not only will attendees benefit from this, but so will your association in terms of online member engagement.

7. Having a Plan B

Last but not least, it’s always a good idea to have a Plan B - with everything. We often take this into account with weather (and rain plans), but we should really do that with other things as well. What if there’s a technology mishap? Or there’s not enough food? These things happen, and it’s better to have a backup plan that you don’t have to use than no backup plan at all.

Want more tips for ensuring your association’s event is a success? Check out our Complete Guide to Association Event Planning below! It’s filled with best practices for before, during, and after your event, and best of all, it’s free!

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

Topics: event planning, member engagement, membership management, Association Views

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