Nothing is more frustrating and disappointing than spending countless hours and lots of money planning an event only to have a mediocre turnout. Empty chairs are the most dreaded sight for any event planner. Conference attendance is extremely pertinent to non-profits, as it is a primary way to boost funding for the organization as well as get the word out about their mission. Conferences are also a great way to attract new members and deliver value to sponsors. Therefore, it is essential that conference attendance remains high year after year. Here are a few great ways to boost conference attendance.
Ask For Input Beforehand
Doing your research is an important part of event planning, so find out what your target audience wants and doesn’t want. Talk to prospective attendees, review past conference survey results, and send out a pre-event poll to get suggestions for the event. This allows you to tailor the conference to your guests and appeal to their interests, making it much more likely that they will attend and even bring a friend or colleague along.
Choose the Right Location
One of the quickest ways to drive attendees away is by choosing a venue that is hard to get to. Therefore, make sure you select a location that is convenient for the majority of your guests. Likewise, you want to choose a place that is experienced with hosting similar events. It should be a place that attendees would like to visit, and not so expensive that it drives up the cost too much and discourages people from attending.
Invite Early and Follow-Up
When it comes to boosting attendance, few things are as helpful as giving your attendees plenty of notice. This reduces the chances of conflicts and allows guests to have plenty of time to make plans. It also gives them something to look forward to. You can also entice attendance by offering early-bird discounts. This is a great way to secure attendees long before the conference takes place. Do remember to follow up through email, social media, other events, mailings, or phone calls as the date approaches. It is up to you to make sure your guests do not forget about the event.
Simplify the Registration Process
A great way to make registration easier is to offer the option to do it online. Make sure the online form is easy to access and as easy as possible to complete by minimizing the number of required fields.
Build an Attractive Agenda
Secure popular speakers early on and plan to cover relevant topics to attract a wide audience to your conference. Make sure you include detailed information in your communications about the event so people feel well prepared to arrive and enjoy their experience onsite. Also, plan for something fun and out of the ordinary that will create a more memorable experience for attendees.
Take Advantage of Social Media
One of the best ways to get the word out about your conference is through the use of social media. A strong social media presence before your event is a great way to encourage potential attendees and create a buzz. Create a hashtag to go along with your conference and encourage attendees to post about their experience before, during, and even after the event.
Provide Networking Opportunities
Whether it’s an opportunity to discuss topics related to the event or purely a career motivated agenda, most attendees will appreciate the opportunity to network during a conference. Include dedicated time in your agenda for mingling, enjoying the local flavor of your conference location with a group outing, or plan a fun networking reception with refreshments. This will give attendees a reason to return year after year.
This might not help boost attendance before the event but it can certainly help entice attendees to return next year. Sending a thank you will go a long way in making guests feel appreciated. Be sure to ask for their feedback to improve future events, and provide presentation materials, photos, or videos from the conference that they can reference long after they return home.