After a few long years, in-person conferences and events have returned in full force – 2022 is shaping up to be one of our busiest years…and we’re not alone. Data from the Center of Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) indicates that 90% of scheduled live events were completed as planned. The Business Travel Tracker also illustrates that 84% of business travelers intend to travel for a meeting, convention, or tradeshow. And the Meeting Expectations sites selection team can attest – event spaces are in great demand.
Their return also brings a new opportunity for pleasure for attendees – particularly those who served in parental roles during the pandemic. The perks of enjoying a destination and gaining new experiences – like dining alone or taking a guided tour – means our approach looks a lot different than it did two-plus years ago.
So, what should you be thinking about to attract a deeply engaged audience? We’ve got some ideas to get a rave-worthy response.
Treat the event destination as a feature
Lots of conferences include the host city in some fashion. For example, it’s commonplace to depict the city skyline in and on the event marketing materials. But we don’t mean merely showing the St. Louis arch if you’re event is under the ‘Gateway to the West.’ Instead, organizers today scan for opportunities to deliver their audience a unique getaway.
Hybrid events significantly affect an employee’s want or ability to travel. Getting an employer to plunk down conference fees and travel and lodging expenses takes more effort. This may mean selecting a unique space for your event, like a boutique hotel with private cabins set against the dusty pink skies of the Southwest so attendees can enjoy more than a bland sleeping room. Activating your destination as a feature allows your attendees to see the conferences not only as professional development but also as a recess.
Education isn’t all that’s on the agenda for in-person events
In-person attendees crave unique interactions when they arrive at your event. Gone are formulaic education and networking sessions. Clever planners today offer hands-on gatherings where attendees can pet puppies, take cooking classes with friends and peers, or enjoy a break in the day for the pool or spa.
Enjoy the ride – for a bit longer
Taking the time to enjoy the destination means booking extra nights before and after the program. Encourage your attendees to experience their sites and surroundings up-close and personal by spotlighting area attractions and day trip offerings. Maybe it’s a National Park within driving range that offers jaw-dropping panoramic views or a whitewater rafting trip they won’t soon forget. Adding this information to your website will attract interest – and your attendees won’t feel burdened by researching the area independently.
Bring area CVBs into the mix
Even though it seems like standard operating procedure, it behooves us to reiterate the value of bringing destination experts on-site. CVB pros live, breathe, and, obviously, work to highlight their destination city, so who knows it better? Take advantage of a destination professional’s knowledge to enhance your event. They can help you source destination information, photography, and event promotion.
Where will you take your attendees?
The excitement of returning to in-person events has the incredible opportunity to leave a lasting impression on your attendees. Forging ahead, consider your boldest event ideas and ask, why not? We know how to brainstorm, so let’s put our heads together. Get in touch.