A happy attendee is likely to be a returning attendee. Therefor it is crucial to make sure you event is memorable for all the right reasons. Here are some tips from the Event Planning and Event Management LinkedIn community to keep your guests happy, loyal and, most important, coming back to your events.
Great First Impressions
You only have one chance to make a first impression. A customer’s first interaction with your company could be via one of many different mediums—through an email newsletter, social media, over the phone or face to face. Ensure that your brand voice and company ethos shine through all of these communication channels and that every interaction is a positive one. Plan for this from the very first touch point.
The Customer Journey
Anticipate your attendees every need and ensure they have a positive experience from start to finish. It is often the simplest things that build lasting customer relationships for the long term. Don’t forget you are part of the hospitality industry.
Your relationship with an event attendee may begin many months before the event—when they first make their online booking to attend. Ensure you stay in contact after the booking confirmation and provide all of the information they will need in a timely manner. When guests arrive reassure them they are in the right place by providing plenty of signage and if possible human “ greeters” pointing them to registration desks.
In the middle of a busy event this isn’t easy but when you are talking to a guest, stop everything and ensure they have your full attention for that moment. Ask questions, take a real interest in the individual. Make sure they know they are valued. After all, without attendees there would be no event!
If a delegate has advised organizers of a special dietary/access/disability request in advance, make arrangements with the venue and caterer to ensure these needs can be met and confirm back to the attendee exactly what these arrangements are.
Don’t Keep People Waiting
Guests usually loathe waiting. Lines at the registration desk, catering stations and cloakroom can encourage feelings of frustration and unease. Plan to minimize waiting time as this is wasted time. Also don’t forget that even during the event people may communicate with you via social media and they expect a fast response, even 30 minutes or an hour could be considered too long so make sure you plan for this.
Service with a Smile
Open body language, good manners, tone, word choice; these are all little touches that cost nothing but can make all the difference to the event experience. Staff with people skills are a must.
Do Something Differently
Analyse your competitors events aimed at similar audience profiles. What do they get wrong/do badly? Ensure you excel in these areas (and of course more besides). Things don’t have to be done the same, innovate and make sure your events take a different and unique approach.
Your team should be well trained and encouraged to bring their personality to their role—you don’t want robots! Staff need to have the six Ps – be Passionate, Personal, Proactive, Productive, Professional and Punctual. Try to remember details about your regular attendees from one event or point of contact to the next so you can strike up a conversation and they know they are valued. Read name badges and use names when you can to make it more personal.
If someone needs direction and you can spare the time escort them to the location they require rather than just pointing them in the right direction. The biggest reason people stop doing business with you or returning to your events is customer service, so it is vital that you get this right. It takes 12 positive service experiences to make up for one bad one and 91 percent of unhappy customers will never willingly return.
Always strive to surpass expectations or to “go beyond delight” to really impress your customers. Do everything in your power to reduce the effort the attendee has to make. If customer needs to do something to resolve an issue try to do it for them.
Great Last Impressions
Don’t relax for one second until every delegate has left the building. You may have been on your feet for more than 10 hours but your farewell to the last guest should be as warm and your smile as bright as it was to the first arrival that morning.
Leave a Lasting Impression
It is 14 times easier to sell to an existing happy client than it is to secure a new customer so you must do everything in your power to keep your guests coming back. Happy customers can also become event ambassadors with a 48 percent chance that they will spread positive word of mouth and help to market your event and drive new registrations.
Don’t forget to follow up after the event. Send personalized messages after the event e.g. “Thank you for attending” or “we are sorry you didn’t make the event.” Share content from the event and prolong the excitement and experience. Ride on the wave of the event and offer attendees a super early bird discount for next year.
The little touches and small details are extremely important to the overall event experience. Hopefully as an Event Manager attention to detail will be your forte and so you have the best chance of delivering a flawless experience to WOW your customers.