The dreaded question that each of your event’s past attendees, as well as future prospects, will be asking for the foreseeable future is:
“Do I need to attend your event (ever) again?”
Your power as an event’s producer is knowing that many highly qualified attendees and visitors will come (and you being able to deliver them). However, the art of attendee acquisition has been taken for granted by many of us for a long time. Given that, is it too late to develop the needed attendee loyalty if we do not already have it – and have not done the necessary groundwork?
In the current environment, here are some of the major reasons why an attendee will not show up at your event:
- “I don’t want to catch a fatal illness.”
- “Couldn’t I get more value from working at home than spending 4 days at an event?”
- “I’ve got to save my own business; how can I afford to take time out of the office?”
- “My budget’s been cut; will I get any value by attending?”
- “Is attending this event worth the new hassles involved in travel?”
- “Will the value of the event be something I can use immediately?”
- “Will my company’s travel policy allow me to attend the event?”
Some of the issues above are beyond our control of course, but it’s important to master what we can do, to be best prepared for the future.
As event managers evaluate their situation in the context of the above attendee concerns, additional things to consider are:
- “Am I guilty of using ‘lazy’ marketing that is annoying prospects with emails or targeted ads?”
- “Have I adopted idiotic tagines like ‘It’s all about (fill in the blank) in lieu of effective messaging?”
- “Do I have a clue as to what my most important clients want from my event?”
- “Do I have a clue about what the tens of thousands of potential attendees would want?”
- “Is all the extra work, stress, and financial risk of owning an event worth it or is it time to do something easier and more lucrative?”
Unfortunately, a market correction in the event industry has been coming for many years, given the divergence of what attendees, sponsors and event owners want at events. The bar is higher than ever before many events will not make the cut, given they no longer offer the value the sponsor or attendee are seeking. Consider the following before you react:
- Have you been honestly communicating with your stakeholders since March about such issues as postponements, cancelations, or refunds? Or have you “gone dark” and made it hard to find out key information they want to know?
- Can you effectively communicate solutions which show clear value in attending your event despite the current challenges?
There is one thing that is clear to me – we have ignored our attendees for too long. The question is will they forgive us and come back?