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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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Your Guide to Gen Z: Will They Be at Your Next Conference?

Posted by Maggie Cummings

Will Gen Z Attend Your Next Conference?

Born into the age of innovation and technology, Gen Z can be the perfect target market for anyone’s next event. Speaking as a Gen Z-er, myself, I know we can be a tough crowd to please. Keeping us interested and entertained is no small job. Between personal insight and some industry research, I’ve put together three tips to help you attract Gen Z-ers to your next conference.

1. We crave “share-worthy” media and information

This may be obvious as you can look around and pretty much see any 15-to-25-year-old consumed with their phone. Take advantage of this and include something so “share-worthy” at your next event that we won’t want miss out. Some suggestions include:

  • Industry leaders: A big name or big company presence will always attract people. A survey of Gen Z-ers actually rated “the who” of an event as the most important aspect when considering attendance, even in front of having WiFi (shock!).
  • Location: Unique and trendy is in! We would much rather spend our money going to a vintage warehouse or a cool museum than the same hotels or conference centers every time. We’re not just there to listen; we’re there for the whole environment. And the pictures (we’re sure to post) definitely help for promotion!
  • Internet connection: How else are we going to share?! Including free WiFi allows us to socially document all aspects of the event. It’s great marketing for you and stimulation for us - a real win-win!

2. We don’t just want to watch, we want to be a part of it

No one enjoys being lectured...so change it up! Flip the lecture-style upside down and have us teach you. Yes, we still go to conferences and events to educate ourselves and learn new things, but we also want to interact and be heard. You could try:

  • Live-tweeting: Ask questions pertaining to various sessions and ask us to live-tweet answers. This keeps us refreshed and involved in the topic. Consider displaying some of the best answers on a screen for everyone to see and maybe even create a cool hashtag for the event.
  • Contests: Who doesn't love free things? Instead of spending your money on a lot of little swag to give away (remember, social media needs to be your marketing strategy), buy a few awesome t-shirts and encourage participation in order to win them. Try hosting an Instagram contest where the “best selfie” from each session wins a t-shirt. This tactic will foster networking and get our creative juices flowing.

3. We thrive in low pressure, high output environments

While we may love social media (ok, maybe a little too much), we still value quality networking. The key is to lean towards a casual atmosphere - without going overboard. Looking good still breeds confidence, but a casual atmosphere for networking, like a trendy bar or restaurant, makes connecting with others much more natural for us. We would rather gather around a nice couch with a drink in our hand and talk than stand in a chilly conference hall with just a name tag.

Want more tips for engaging young professionals at your association? Check out our free guide, Recruiting Young Professionals for the Long-Haul, below!

Recruiting Young Professionals for the Long-Haul  A guide for associations and chambers Download this guide

Topics: event planning, member engagement, Small Staff Chatter

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Noticing that your youngest members aren't renewing?  Check out our guide, Recruiting Young Professionals for the Long-Haul! Download Now!

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