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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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A Royal Affair: Event Planning Lessons from the 2018 Royal Wedding

Posted by Callie Walker

Event Planning Lessons from the Royal Wedding

Regardless of whether or not you read Us Weekly or tune into E! News, you’re likely at least semi-familiar with dare I say THE event of the year: the 2018 royal wedding between Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.

Scheduled to take place on May 19, this seems to be all people are talking about, which got me thinking...what can association professionals and event planners learn from all this? Turns out, a few things! Take a look:

Lesson #1: Sometimes it pays to go against tradition.

In the world of royalty, tradition reigns. Well, until now. Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have made several wedding planning decisions that, up until this point, have been unprecedented. For example, this wedding will take place on a Saturday, whereas most royal weddings typically take place on a weekday. (The Queen wed on a Thursday and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wed on a Thursday.)

Another tradition that Markle intends to defy: who speaks at her wedding. Typically, the groom, father of the bride, the best man, and perhaps the maid of honor are invited to share a few words at the reception. Markle, however, plans to give a little speech herself, thanking her soon-to-be husband and everyone who’s supported them.

So, are these bold moves for better or for worse? We think for better! For example, because the wedding is being held on a Saturday, more people will be able to watch/tune in (via TV, of course).

Could switching up the day of your event (or who speaks, or something else entirely) have a similar impact?

Lesson 2: Play up pre-event publicity.

Like we mentioned earlier, even if you’re not into “celebrity” shenanigans, you’re still probably familiar with the upcoming royal wedding - and that’s because publicity has been out the wazoo!

But let me let you in on a little secret: When this engagement first came about, I wasn’t all that into it. It wasn’t until little teasers started trickling out that I really became interested. And now I feel invested, so I HAVE to follow it through!

This is something you can definitely incorporate into your association’s event planning process. As you check things off your to-do list, post about them on social media or include them in your organization’s newsletter. This prompts interest, excitement, and commitment.

Below is an example of how Kensington Palace tweeted a video of the invitations being printed. How fun - and just look at those engagement numbers!

Royal Wedding Invitations

Lesson #3: Exclusivity is a powerful motivator.

Ever wonder why people are so obsessed with these weddings? A big part of it, I think, has to do with how exclusive they are. These are royals we’re talking about! The guest list alone is A++.

Now most events don’t compare to that of a royal wedding, but there is something to be learned here: If you can make people feel special (and like your event is going to be special), interest will spike.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Limit the number of registrants you take for your event - You don’t want to make your event smaller than it has to be, but if you’re worried about attendance being low, use that to your advantage. (FOMO is real, you know, and it can often spur some kind of action. In this case, registrations.)
  • Get creative with your communications - Even if your event is open to everyone, still make people feel special. Use phrases like “You’re invited” in the subject line of your email invites. This makes your event seem like a privilege to attend - and that’s a game-changer.

Want more tips for planning a top-notch, royal-like event? Check out our Complete Guide to Association Event Planning below. It’s filled with best practices for before, during, and after your next event!

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

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

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