Attendees crave more than just a run-of-the-mill conference agenda - they increasingly expect experiences that speak to their specific interests. As such, meeting professionals must look beyond the execution of the event and consider the meeting-goer experience each step of the way. Following, we explore a few simple ways to further personalize the meeting experience.
1. Customize the Event App
An effective app will engage attendees before, during and after the event takes place. The app should help the host organization nurture its event community and drive more engagement by keeping conference attendees informed with up-to-date information. A personalized app should also allow for complete user customization. Eventmobi, for example, features a schedule-builder attendees can use to map out their entire event experience. It allows schedules to extend beyond education and break-out sessions, too: For instance, attendees can add travel logistics like flight information to their schedules, allowing for a complete and unique conference itinerary to be stored in one central location.
An ideal event app may also provide users with a space to express themselves. Guidebook's Interact feature, for example, allows users to connect and engage with each other. Attendees have the power to post their thoughts, feelings, opinions and questions on the app's feed.
2. Implement AI
An attendee's decision to choose a session is influenced by a variety of factors. The event app platform Eventbase works under the premise that many times, future attendee choices can be predicted based on behaviors, preferences and previous actions.
With AI-powered recommendation engines like TurnoutNow, planners can help attendees discover sessions related to their interests using pre-existing data and machine learning algorithms. Once the event starts, TurnoutNow tracks real-time behavior data via wearable tech and uses it to provide individuals with curated suggestions on different aspects of the conference to explore next.
3. Give Attendees a Voice
Attendees are looking for agenda items that matter to their unique selves, so planners should focus on accommodating each individual by creating personally fulfilling experiences. One way to identify what attendees are looking for, and to personalize the event agenda for attendees, is to give them control over it.
Live polling apps like Meeting Play make crowdsourcing the event agenda simple via real-time feedback features. By tapping into attendee perspectives, planners can make immediate changes, adapt and refine future events to improve the experience, and drive a better return on event investment.
4. Group Guest Personas
Event-planning and diagramming software provider Social Tables, part of Cvent, suggests one way planners can better provide personalized attendee engagement is by creating persona "buckets" that map back to various personality types at the conference. Segmenting the audience as such can provide opportunities to tailor experiences to specific attendee interests, be they related to food and beverage, networking or even off-site opportunities.
The global-events company Experient, as Socialtables points out, has long employed this event-persona tactic. By identifying different personality types based on pre-event attendee research, organizers can tailor uniquely personalized meeting itineraries that appeal to each group.
5. Add Event Pathways
Consider creating pathways, or tracks, that target the various groups attending an event. For example, a business-focused event might have entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, exhibitors and small business owners in attendance. Planners should prepare accordingly so that each of the four groups feels like their needs and expectations are met throughout the event.
The Endocrine Society implemented a basic scientist meeting pathway into their ENDO Annual Meeting agenda after learning that their basic scientist attendees felt the agenda was not designed well enough for them. "Our team rallied together to find ways to configure a program [specifically for basic scientists]," explains Christopher Urena, CAE, chief learning officer for the Endocrine Society. "Through the years, we have been able to track the growth of basic-scientist-attended programs, networking events and the success of the initiative."
6. Get Cozy
Typical conference break rooms are anything but comfortable and don't do much for the imagination. To combat discomfort, Endless Events, an event production company, suggests providing attendees with lounge and rest areas that make it feel more like the space has been customized just for them. Movable furniture allows the attendees to build the area to suit their needs. Endless Events also suggests surveying attendees before the event to determine if they would value an unplugged (device-free) zone, as well - to revive, or to regain focus.