How times have changed. It wasn't that long ago that you could get by with only a few emails to potential attendees, a profile about a future meeting, and a link to your website so people could learn more or register. While some still may put in just this level of effort, it doesn't go nearly far enough towards satisfying the need to communicate and engage and get attendee feedback.
Total Attendee Focus
Whether you are a corporate planner and your people are required to attend your meeting or event, or you're an association planner whose attendees have a choice (and pay their own way), strategic and interactive communications are a must to assure success. As an example, your custom website must have continuous; fresh and compelling content; easy registration and housing information; instant confirmations; e-communications options for multiple attendee categories; destination highlights; speaker and topic profiles; and interactive feedback options, along with data sharing. Mobile apps are another tool that will enhance your ability to keep people informed before, during, and after the meeting.
Leverage Social Media
Of course, we now have an arsenal of internet related marketing options, which not only help tell your story but create interactive communications and essential feedback among a broad range of potential attendees, sponsors, exhibitors, marketing partners, and more. Your meeting may only be three or four days, but innovative and high impact communications will create significant buzz for many, many months--or all year--if done right. Beyond Facebook and LinkedIn, consider YouTube, Twitter, Vine, Instagram, and other internet options to instantly penetrate new and existing markets.
What Is Your ROI and ROE?
Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) has helped fuel this value-centric environment, and measuring the attendee experience and learning are an important part of the equation. Tracking your website and social media traffic and results will provide some ROI measurements, but equally important is Return on Event (ROE), which is attendee-focused. ROE is the shift found between a pre-meeting measurement of an attendee's rating of a specific meeting dimension and the attendee's post-meeting measurement of the same. Very few meetings calculate ROE as a dollar amount, but rather as increases in attitudes, perceptions, learning, new skills, and more--the things that directly impact the "people, productivity, and profitability" equation. The reality is that meaningful attendee impact measurements cannot be made with only post-meeting surveys.
The bar will only rise on the need for new and innovative strategies to communicate, engage, inspire, and get feedback from a broad range of meeting attendees. I suggest that you evaluate your current attendee communications methods, including social media and cross promotional options, then put together and implement a marketing plan that will stimulate your current and future meeting attendees--and deliver robust ROI and ROE measurements!
Tim Brown is CEO of Meeting Sites Resource. MSR is a global strategic meetings management solutions organization with a 20-year track record of meeting excellence. This includes global hotel sourcing and custom contract negotiations, professional meeting support services, SMM consulting and advanced meeting technology.
Tim contributes articles to industry trade publications and speaks at many industry events. MSR also designs custom strategic education for planning and procurement teams. MSR is a recognition recipient of Meeting Professionals International's Golden Paragon Award, MPI's highest recognition for meeting excellence.
For a complimentary copy of Tim's "Meeting Value & ROI Analysis," contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.