Attendees Not Coming Back? 5 Fab Ways to Retain Them
Aug 26, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

Every event planner’s dream is to have 100% (or close to that) of attendees come back to their conference year-after-year. While this may seem like a lofty goal, the fact that most meetings are experiencing 50-90% turnover at their annual conferences is not good.

And to drive home the reasons why retention should be important to you, let’s look at these two startling statistics:

  • It takes 20% of your time to keep existing attendees and 80% to groom new ones.
    Why is that? Because you have to market, sell and persuade prospective attendees to come and maybe even help them convince their boss. Existing attendees know the drill – and more importantly – what to expect.
  • According to Harvard Business Review, increasing retention by just 5% can mean increased profits of 25-90% at your event.

But you are still left scratching your head and wondering, “Why don’t they come back?

Julius Solaris, Editor at www.eventmanagerblog.com recently compiled 20 Attendee Retention Tactics. I have highlighted 5 of them that you can complete while at your conference in order to keep attendees from slipping away.

5 Retention Tactics

Engage Attendees

Whether it is a gamification app on iPad rentals or displaying live Tweets and Instagram photos on a video wall, attendees love to play and engage in content regardless of age or other demographic details.

Find speakers who encourage this interaction and work on contests and challenges as an integral part of your event strategy.

Surprise Them

The most memorable conferences I ever attended were ones that had some mystery to them. I can remember attending an incentive conference years ago and every night, when I returned to the room, there would be a little gift and note from the event staff thanking me for attending the conference. It really wasn’t about the value of the gift, it was more about “what would tonight bring?”

Think about ways you can shake up your conference.

Ask for Feedback…and then Do Something with it

It is one thing to ask for feedback, but it is quite another to do something about it. If there are questions, complaints or comments on site, listen to them and get a response back to the attendee as quickly as possible. If you are going to do fix or do what they want, great! Let them know when. If you are not, let them know why.

You can use Audience Response System rentals to quickly and anonymously gather feedback from your group.

Listen and Respond to Social Channels

It is very important that in addition to Audience Response rental unit use, you and your event planning staff be tuned into what is going on within the social channels. Have someone monitor them constantly, set up an event hashtag and promote it often.

If someone is at your event, the expectation will be that they will receive some sort of response within an hour (unless their comment is posted at 3 AM).

Announce Next Year’s Conference Early and Often

While you have a captive audience, let them know the date, time and location of next year’s event. Post it on the video wall rental, message it to attendee’s mobile devices and remind them several times throughout the event.

Even allow for electronic registration during your conference. If you think it is needed, give them a discount as an incentive to register.

SmartSource Rentals, is your total technology solutions provider and has a breadth and depth of feedback engagement tools including wireless Audience Response systems, iPads and much more. Give them a call today at 800.888.8686 to get started!

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