I would say the #1 problem event organizers have is…changing it up. What do I mean? Of course event organizers are hard-working group who put in the long hours and care (and probably worry too much) about our events.
But when it comes down to programing, we tend to do the EASY thing — the same format as last year. Organizers often pull out last year’s schedule and just change out the sessions, leavng all the formatting exactly the same. They usually use the same venues, the same timing, the same parties, the same speakers. With many events I attend, I can have a blindfold on and be able to know exactly what is going on at the event because I was there last year and this year is just a duplication.
That’s so lazy!
In our attendee evaluations the answer is right there in front of us, but we ignore it. Attendees want new and unique experiences!!
So what did our attendees tell us they want at our events? “We want more attendee interaction!”
So we listened. Here’s how we added more interaction. This is just one example of how we changed things up last year’s events and received very favorable feedback for doing it!
1. More time: Every year attendees request more time to meet and discuss ideas with their fellow attendees, so we doubled the roundtable discussion time for all our events last year. Attendees loved it.
2. More niched: We created an hour to just “Meet your Peeps” where we organize attendees (in our case) by B2B, B2C, and association publishers. Then we further drill down the groups by types of circulation (paid, controlled and free distribution). Obviously, for your event you would have entirely different criteria for “Meet your Peeps”. The point is that attendees have a huge thirst for meeting attendees most like themselves.
3. More topics: We added another hour dedicated to roundtables by “hot topics”. Attendees pick their hot topic table and then switch to a second topic after half an hour.
4. (A little) More structure: We have found that the key to successful roundtables is having them moderated. We use all of our expert speakers to facilitate the roundtables. They are instructed not to teach but just to keep the flow of the conversation going in the right direction and ask good questions to spur conversation. It’s also very important to cover enough different discussion points and not let one person dominate the discussion.
Attendees loved these four change-ups to the interactive sessions. It actually made the programming of the event easier for us. A true win – win!
So this is just one way we freshen things up. We’ve also dedicated a lot of time and effort to move venues, change the party formats, have a minimum of 60% new speakers and try to add new life into every event we do. These little innovations all pay big time dividends and give attendees a new reason to attend every event, year-after-year.
Here’s to a fresh 2016!!!
Niche Media has created super niched-out events specifically for magazine publishers for over 12 years. We’ve helped pave the way for the era of boutique events that connect specific audiences and provide great educational, friendly and super-fun environments! Plus, Carl Landau – Niche Media’s Grand Poobah – just a niche event all about creating and marketing targeted events – NicheEventFest.com Check it out!
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