What Does It Take To Create A (Positively) Memorable Association Event?
19 February 2018
Posted by: Katie Spackman
Can you create a memorable event or is the reality you are only providing an opportunity where your delegates can create their own (hopefully good) memories?
You’ve likely been at a party or social event where, despite the fabulous food, drink and location you didn’t have a good time – and probably loathe the idea of going back! And there have probably been events where you had a great time despite not remembering anything much about the food or location.
So what’s the difference?
My observation, while attending a party with a group of far flung relatives that I barely knew, is that I didn’t identify with their herd. No criticism of the them, just not a group, or herd, I could relate to. On the other hand, I have been at conferences where everyone in the room was there for the same purpose (we all belonged to the same herd) but while there were many animated groups I still felt and acted like a “wallflower”. So even though I was amongst my herd I didn’t feel I had permission to engage, and it remains memorable for the wrong reasons.
Feedback and surveys
Through our event surveys and feedback, we have learned some key lessons that relate to creating the opportunity for memorable experiences. For example, we had been providing additional networking opportunities but the feedback we received from many delegates was still “we want more networking”. It wasn’t until we re-positioned this to “we want you to facilitate better, easier, more effective networking that works for me” that we were able to come up with innovations to address this. Lesson learned - forget what you are selling and find out what your customers are buying.
So, to facilitate more effective networking we explored gaming opportunities, using technology to bring people together. However, advice from a gaming guru was that a key power of gaming is to create motivation and that, as we had already identified the motivation, perhaps a low-tech approach to facilitate the networking might be simpler. Lesson Learned – Our goal is to give people permission to say hello and shake hands. It might be as simple as coloured dots on their delegate badge that reflect the “herd” they identify with. For our events that might be Strategic, Commercial, Technical or perhaps Upstream, Midstream, Downstream. Think about your herds.
As for the gaming technology? We found it much more valuable to add value for a key sponsor who had the need to both motivate and facilitate their target audience.
As our major conference covers the entire value chain we don’t have one homogenous herd - technical people want to hear from engineers and specifiers while strategy people want to hear from policy makers. Also a memorable experience will need to meet both their professional and personal needs. Lesson Learned – Every element of our event promotion must capture the benefit from that particular herd’s perspective. Someone attending for the technical session is less likely to excited about a Keynote session on policy, while all attendees probably have a similar interest in their safety and security.
Spell out the benefits
Our approach is that every feature (professional or personal) that you include in your marketing material must spell out the benefit specifically to that potential delegate and the herd they identify with. If you can’t spell out why it is good for them don’t expect them to buy.
A great programme, interesting location/venue and creative food and entertainment might get them through the door but if they don’t enjoy the personal/professional experience then that is what you will be remembered for.
Author: Rodney Cox, Event Director, International Gas Union (IGU)
The IGU’s upcoming portfolio includes
- 27th World Gas Conference, Washington DC June 2018, wgc2018.com19th
- International Conference and Exhibition on Liquefied Natural Gas Shanghai April 2019, lng2019.com
- 16th International Gas Research Conference, Tehran May 2020