Make Sharing Easy: Takeaways From a 2019 Survey of Business Event Attendees

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Here's one component that I haven't had top-of-mind before when marketing for an event: Making it clear to prospective attendees that not only are we going to give them plenty of takeaways and quality learnings, but we are going to make it easy for them to share those learnings with their colleagues—perhaps through our event app.

"Following events, many attendees across the U.S., UK, and Germany feel burdened to justify their attendance, especially given the costs associated with attending," concludes the survey report Inside the Mind of Event Attendees.

"Lessening this stressor for your attendees is seen as very important"—25% struggle to share their learnings with colleagues. If they can use easier shareability to justify their expense, then all the better. Bottom line: Provide post-event materials that are ready to share and socialize.

Cvent and Edelman surveyed 3,000 people (1,000 from the United States, UK, and Germany) via a 15-minute online quantitative survey in late 2018. The respondents represent attendees of professional conferences in the past six months.

Here are some other findings:.

Engage with attendees before and keep the momentum going after. Half say that they engage with content prior to the event, and 40% say they continue to engage after the event.

Develop a mobile event app. Mobile event apps help ease the stress around navigating the event, and provide features, content, and information that attendees crave during the entire event lifecycle. Only 1 in 4 attendees report the last event they attended offered a mobile app, but when available, 3 in 4 download them and derive a lot of value from them.

Reach out to millennials. Yes, millennials are the fastest growing segment of event attendees and indicate that they will attend more events next year than they did the previous one. "That said, they do find the overall event experience significantly more stressful, especially having to network with people they don't know." They may require more direction and guidance from events to make their overall experience less stressful.

Personalize event content. Many attendees lean on events to provide more recommendations that are personalized to their needs, from which sessions to attend to who they should connect with. Share a fully-detailed schedule to be created prior to the event (including sessions to attend, where to eat, and social events to attend) based on attendee preferences. And drive awareness of your mobile event app.

The learning has to be first-rate. We do hear a lot about the importance of networking—and for good reason—but the #1 factor of event attendance in all countries is quality of learning opportunity. And the #1 reason for attending an event in all countries is professional development.

Engage with your attendees before the event. There might be a tendency to just be happy that people have signed up and see them there. But according to this survey, there's an opportunity for pre-event communications to have a more positive impact. Almost two-thirds of Americans surveyed want those session recommendations and additional recommendations on other attendees to network with. And 59% want a personalized schedule.

Focus on the description. Almost 80% of respondents decide which session to attend based on the description—56% go by the speaker, 47% by recommendations from colleagues and 41% by organizer recommendations.

Offer many networking opportunities. These event factors contributed positively to the overall event experience of attendees: Networking (69%), location (69%), interactivity (64%), keynote speakers (64%), presentation materials/leave-behinds (64%), other event attendees (60%) and support staff (58%). One in four attendees has gotten a new job from an event connection.

Organize a virtual event. Half the respondents who have attended a virtual event said they would do so again. But only a third of those who have not attended a virtual event indicated an interest in attending one. So there's an education component here. But a virtual event remains an attractive option because it helps offset the biggest stressors of attending events—being away and logistics.

View the entire report here.

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…