A whopping 40 million people in the United States attend approximately 500,000 events each year. Of course, that doesn’t include smaller events, but only conferences, conventions and trade shows. The point is that your event attendees have a whole host of events from which to choose. It is vital that you retain the attendees you have while seeking new ones if you want to grow your conference from small to impressive. Fortunately, there are some attendee retention tricks you can implement that will encourage attendees to return next year.
5 Attendee Retention Tricks
In order to entice attendees to return next year, you have to both promote the next conference, while also making this year’s so phenomenal that people will want to come back again.
Go the Extra Mile
More than likely, you released the agenda for the event far in advance. Take a look at it and figure out how you can add value. For example, if you have a keynote speaker coming, will he agree to do a meet and greet session or two for some one-on-one networking with attendees?
Have you ever gone to an event and the chairs are so uncomfortable that you walk away with your back hurting? Before the event, test out the chairs your attendees will be using. Are they ergonomic? If someone sits in that chair for an hour, how comfortable will it be? What are your other options? You may even want to invest in having outside chairs rented and brought in.
Entice Them to Pre-Register
While you probably don’t have much planning done toward next year’s conference, smart event planners know that they should at least have one big out of the box idea to share with attendees to entice them to register next year. For example, if you are hosting an event for business owners, you could tell them that next year you are planning to include a fair where the public will be invited in and introduced to their businesses via trade booths.
It doesn’t have to be something as large as a trade show type experience, however. You can certainly name drop keynote speakers you’re talking to, discuss possible venues, or even just offer a really great discount or package if they register before they leave this year’s conference.
Offer Perks to Repeat Attendees
Create some tiers for your attendees. For example, you could host a special event for past attendees to network. By offering perks that gradually go up the longer people come to your conferences, you entice them to register again each and every year.
You could also build in a discount where someone who has attended two or three conferences gets a discount on registration.
Study Your Competition
Stay up on what your competition is doing. You’ve worked extremely hard to gain the attendees who come to your events. The last thing you want is to lose them to someone offering something a little more, a little better, or a lot more exciting than you are.
Instead, study your competition. What are they offering at their events that you’re not offering? How can you offer something similar but even better?
A Sense of Belonging
Those who attend the same events year after year are looking for a couple of things. They can gain knowledge at any event or workshop. Instead, they are looking for a sense of belonging. They like the attitude and the personalities behind your conference. Perhaps they admire the keynote speakers you’ve chosen. Whatever it is, they feel like your event is the one where they best fit.
While you do want to offer things fresh and new, you don’t want to change the core message or goals of your events. If you completely turn the entire approach on its ear, you risk losing attendees who may no longer feel this is an event they enjoy coming to each year.
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