As technology has become more ubiquitous around events, events too have evolved from short-term affairs to never-ending opportunities to engage participants around a cause, brand or topic.
THE EVENT LIFECYCLE
Traditionally Event and Meeting Planners have looked at the event lifecycle being from the time the doors open to the venue until the last participant leaves the venue.
“As a planner I have looked at the lifecycle in a very different way,” said Al Wynant of Eventinterface. “I look at the lifecycle as never-ending. For me it starts from the moment I open my online registration process and it never ends after that. The registration is the seed that starts the community building process. Events and conferences take an extraordinary time to plan and execute and extending the lifecycle, building on that registration, allows me to monetize my event more and provides a greater return on investment.”
WHERE TO START
First and foremost, the general mindset of the planner needs to adapt to thinking about the event or conference as a long-term, ever-evolving entity, and not a one-time occurrence. Planners must take a much larger and global look at their conferences, prospect attendees and stakeholders, and not just see the small percentage of potential participants who can make it to the event. The beauty however is that 90% of the work has already been completed as part of the established planning process.
Second, planners need to make a commitment to wanting to extend the lifecycle and assign someone to manage and monitor the community. It will take some upfront management; however once the community is up and running, participants will continue to enhance it with meaningful and topical conversations around the theme of the event. The community becomes a go to resource for all topics related to the cause, theme or brand the event was about.
Third, planners need to employ integrated or end-to-end online meeting management tools that can facilitate the extension of the lifecycle, easily and cost-effectively for all stakeholders. Eventinterface is one of these solutions.
From a simple perspective, Event and Meeting Planners should think about this right from the beginning of the planning process. As part of the online registration process, invite all of your event stakeholders to connect with each other. This builds value for attendees, speakers, sponsors and exhibitors who can now connect with all participants, weeks, if not months prior to the event. Invite them to share profiles, pitches, social links and even the opportunity to pre-schedule appointments during the event, all within the privacy walls of the event. Invite attendees to start conversations around topics with speakers and other attendees.
Furthermore, events generate an immense amount of data, white papers, PowerPoint presentations, video that is presented at the conference. Make that data available to all registered attendees right before or during the conference and invite conversation around this.
And last but not least, once the conference or event is over, invite all stakeholders who were not able to come to the conference to the engage in the community. Share the data presented at the conference for a fee. On average about 15% of possible attendees come to events, how about engaging the other 85% in the community?
What this means is that a company, organization, brand or cause can now have a private online community around the event where people can have discussions, come back to, connect and continue the conversation. Keep them engaged by offering additional information throughout the year, new findings and discussion points. You can use this community to build excitement for the next event. The people who were not able to join the previous year and experienced the online community will not want to miss out on the event the following year.
Additionally, many events are hosted around topics and causes that have deliverables associated with them. Once participants leave it is challenging to follow-up on these deliverables, by extending the lifecycle online you can now continue to engage and keep on top of the overall outcomes of your event.
MONETIZING THE EVENT COMMUNITY
Conferences generate a great deal of materials that are shared with attendees. With technologies such as Eventinterface you can now easily create a private online community around your event and share these materials with your attendees but also anyone not able to attend the event for a fee. “At Eventinterface we have seen clients on average generate 30% more event revenue by sharing data online post-event,” said Al Wynant, Eventinterface CEO.
Planners too can sell access to sponsors and exhibitors who can now engage with prospects not only at the event, but pre-, during and post-event as the community continues to grow.
1. Change your approach! Think of your event as a never-ending entity. Your event begins when you open registration, and from then on the community keeps on growing through engagement and content distribution. The event doesn’t end when the last attendee leaves the building.
2. Find a technology solution such as Eventinterface than can accommodate the whole process easily and cost-effectively. You do not want to confuse the planning team and stakeholders by implementing a suite of tools. Simple and easy to use is the rule.
3. Communities need to be promoted and managed. You will need to assign a person to monitor and engage the community. Once you have kick-started the community, attendees will start creating their own value within the structure of the community, but it needs to be managed and moderated.