Recurring events can be the bread and butter of company outreach, especially if you become known in your industry for long-running events that attract industry insiders, media, and even public attention and attendees. Unfortunately, there is a tendency for companies to rest on their laurels, relying on past successes and repeat attendance to fuel future events. This can lead to stagnation and ultimately, to reduced interest and attendance.
According to John Cotter, Chief Operating Officer of AMI, “One of the biggest problems companies face with repeat events is attracting new people. They don’t want to change too much and risk alienating loyal attendees, but a result is an event that starts to feel stale and fails to increase attendance, meet goals, and deliver new successes.” It’s imperative that an event or conference organizer recognize the consequences of failing to update in order to attract new interest in repeat events.
The question, then, is how to revitalize past events in such a way that traditions are preserved to appease loyal attendees while new incentives are offered to increase recruitment potential. An experienced partner like global meeting services organization American Meetings, Inc. (AMI) has the resources and expertise to help companies breathe new life into recurring events like annual meetings, conferences, and conventions. Here are just a few ways in which the average meeting or convention planner can revitalize past events.
When it comes to revitalizing past events and boosting attendance, you probably want to focus on attracting a younger crowd. The truth is that repeat attendees will eventually age out, so to speak. They might reach the age of retirement or enter different fields over time, causing your event attendance to dwindle.
You need to infuse your long-standing events with new blood, new ideas, and a new generation of young professionals that represent the cutting edge of your industry. This is the best way to remain relevant, solidify your standing, and continue to host must-attend events. So how do you attract a younger audience?
You need to know what they’re looking for so you can deliver. Consider, for example, that attendees who have been coming to your events for years may no longer need basic primers on what you do, pertinent history, or how to get to the next level in their careers, just for example. Your event or convention planner may naturally edit out topics that seemed relevant when your event first started, but that no longer interest repeat attendees.
If you want to attract a new audience, however, you have to include topics that are relevant to them in order to create a value proposition. An expert event planning service like AMI can help you to come up with strategies that speak to a new crowd, without necessarily alienating past attendees that continue to make your event a success year after year.
Don’t forget about incorporating relevant technologies and learning to speak the language of a younger audience. Tapping into a new market may require you to hire employees and select a meeting or conference organizer that represents the demographics you’re trying to attract. Establishing yourself as a member of a new group can provide you with the platform you need to attract a new audience and revitalize an aging event.
One area in which many companies fall short is recruitment. While you dutifully correspond with your existing roster of attendees in order to maintain attendance, you might not go the extra mile to aggressively recruit new leads for future event attendance.
Recruitment is an integral part of ensuring that your events are high-demand affairs and that you always have a packed house, year after year. It goes beyond invitation and confirmation – with a partner like AMI, you can plan cost-effective recruitment strategies that turn leads into loyal attendees. From promotion to tracking and analysis, the right recruitment efforts can boost registration year after year.
Establishing brand recognition and cultivating a brand image are ongoing processes. While every company harbors a set mission and core values that define image and operations, the concept of a brand is something that must evolve over time or risk stagnation. Brand relevance relies on your ability to change with the times, so to speak while holding onto the values that make your company unique.
Branding for events is no different, and it’s important to revisit this topic every time you host a new event. The event host and the meeting or convention planner should collaborate when it comes to the best ways to keep branding and marketing efforts up-to-date, utilizing relevant technologies for outreach and promotion while spreading a message that speaks to desired demographics. With the right message, tone, and logistical planning, re-branding can have a huge impact on event image and recruitment.
If you’re trying to attract particular demographics for events, one of the best ways to strike the right tone is to solicit suggestions from that particular group, and the best place to start is within your own walls. Involving employees in the process of revitalizing past events can not only help you to see new avenues of exploration that will appeal to different demographics but also provide clues about how past events might be outdated or unappealing to a new audience.
If you simply don’t have the manpower within your ranks to draw the information and inspiration you need, don’t forget that a professional conference organizer like AMI has a finger on the pulse of modern events. The strategies you need to succeed can come from a collaborative event planning partner.
If your recruiting efforts seem to be going well but you find you’re not getting repeat attendance from new recruits to events, it’s time to go straight to the source and find out what went wrong. Why are you able to attract new attendees, but you’re failing to elicit repeat attendance? With a meeting services organization like AMI helping you out, you can easily conduct the follow-up research you need to learn from mistakes and create future successes with repeat events.