It's no secret: Social media can help meeting planners effectively market events. Just as effectively, however, social media can help attendees minimize the cost of attending them, according to the National Conference Center (NCC) in Leesburg, Va., which this week released a list of seven ways that social media can help meeting attendees save money.
"Aside from the cost of owning a laptop or smart phone — which will make up 31 percent of the mobile population this year — using social media helps to eliminate pricey conference costs," said Sarah Vining, author of NCC's blog.
According to NCC, meeting attendees can save money by:
1. Attending Virtual Conferences: Many conferences are now hosting live web conferences, according to NCC, which says virtual meetings can help attendees reduce travel expenses.
2. Attending via Twitter: Although it’s not the same as attending a conference in person, meeting attendees can save money by following event activities online, according to NCC, which recommends following hot topics and speakers via #twitterhashtag. It’s completely free to participate, saving attendees money on accommodations, registration and more.
3. Starting a Blog: If you’re a well-known blogger with a large audience, some conferences will allow you attend for free, or for a reduced fee, as “press,” so long as you agree to blog about the conference.
4. Researching the Destination: If you plan your meals ahead of time, you can encourage other attendees to purchase restaurant Groupon or Living Social coupons with you. You can save up to 60 percent on your meal bills or entertainment, according to NCC.
5. Dividing and Conquering: If a conference requires attendees to register separately for individual sessions or events, NCC recommends teaming up with other attendees or colleagues in order to divvy up event content. If everyone blogs about their experience, or at least takes notes, you can still attend your top-choice session and save money by reading about the others later.
6. Taking Online Surveys: Online surveys help event planners better organize the results and feedback from conferences, which can drastically improve an event from one year to the next — potentially saving money, according to NCC, since improved events attract increased participation, which in turn allows event organizers to reduce registration fees.
7. Unlocking Deals: Using location-based apps such as FourSquare and Facebook can unlock deals for attendees while they're at a conference, according to NCC.