From the moment your attendees first learn about your event, they embark on a journey. Where that adventure takes them, and how well it goes, is very much up to you as the event planner. By creating a multifaceted attendee journey that builds choice, discovery and the unexpected into your event experience, you can ensure each attendee has a chance to engage fully and leave satisfied.
So what is this tool, exactly? An attendee journey is a roadmap through your entire event, or the series of touch points visitors will encounter as they travel through your experience. Those touch-points begin the moment attendees first learn about your event (via website, print, friend, etc.), followed by registration, event app download, preparation, on-site check-in, and the first session. The journey then continues all the way to the final good-bye and post-show touch-points.
In the past, events were heavily pre-programmed. Attendees simply funneled onto the path or track laid out by the organizer. But times have changed. Attendees have grown accustomed to customer-centricity in non-business experiences. The Disney parks are an example, having in the last decade adopted more visitor-driven experiences that invite attendees to pre-plan their unique adventure and customize as they go.
Now, sales and industry meetings are picking up this trend.
As you consider the attendee journey for your next event, keep two things in mind. First, consider that your event is indeed a journey. Every step of the experience can be critical and memorable, if you as the event planner choose to create that opportunity. This applies not just to the event, but also to how attendees process and extend the experience in follow-up.
Also remember this is a human experience. Empathy and compassion play as well in attendee journey design as professionalism and content, because ultimately, your experience is built for people. A great attendee journey feels less like an educational triathalon, and more like a brisk walk on a beautiful day—challenging and fun, but at just the right pace.
Here are a few more tips to maximize your attendees’ experience:
Consider attendees’ feelings, not just their intellect
Because events are frequently an education opportunity, event planners easily can forget that an event is emotional, too. Does your check-in feel chaotic, or smooth? Do keynote gatherings feel overly hyped, or refreshing and inspiring? Pay attention to how the experience feels, from your attendees’ point of view, at each step of the way. This ensures more attendees will come away with overwhelmingly positive memories. Which of course mean more great reviews, recommendations and repeat attendance for you.
Walk through every step ahead of your attendees
When you are planning your attendee journey, don’t leave stretches of time to chance. Plot out each minute of the experience from first touch and online registration to post-show follow-up. Where are the attendees right now? What will they do between these two sessions? What happens when they enter the exhibit hall? Exploring questions like these will lead you to ripe (and often overlooked) opportunities for education, surprise and delight. It can also help identify pitfalls or “dead spots”—so you deal with them in planning, instead of discovering them on site.
Consider all possible outcomes for each touch point
A team of skilled strategists can be especially useful here. As you evaluate each touch point, ask yourself, “What are all the possible ways this interaction could unfold?” When someone approaches your check-in kiosk, will they automatically know what buttons to press? If not, what then? If they go to find a seat in a general session, and can’t, who would they likely turn to? What happens when they step outside to find transportation? No two human beings handle the same task the same way. By identifying multiple possible ways your attendees might react at each point on the journey, you are more likely to provide for their actual needs.
Find ways to simplify the experience
While choice is critical for modern attendees, do those keep choices streamlined. The more complex your attendee journey, the more potentially confusing for everyone. Save time and headaches by evaluating your experience to see where multiple steps or confusing similarities could be eliminated in favor of two or three elegant options. Can you cut time or paperwork at check-in? Would simplifying the breakout selections help attendees select their option? How about giving everyone multiple choices within one activity, rather than hosting multiple? Offer choices, yes. But make sure those choices are both simple and accessible.
Look for ways to automate, but with a human touch
Automation is a great way to simplify and also offer more options for an attendee-driven event. At the very least, it can save paper, headaches and the planet. Just don’t forget ensure there’s still a friendly face available for attendees who need it. The costs of digitizing at various areas may seem daunting at first, but consider what you are saving in other areas such as talent or resources. Also consider how much smoother the attendee experience is when a simple badge scan, event app scan or touch of an iPad button reduces time and clutter. If there’s a viable digital solution for a task, backed up by a smiling face, opt for that solution.
Wondering if your current approach to your attendee journey is truly comprehensive? Or need help creating your first attendee journey? Our strategic minds at LSAV POWERHOUSE are ready to help you sort it all out. Check out our portfolio here and then reach out to schedule your consultation.