Why attend a conference or trade show?
Most people attend conferences on the assumption that they will either be educated on something new and relevant OR they will have the opportunity to network with people and companies who will help them meet their business objectives. Pretty clear participant objectives, but do most events deliver?
It’s time to “up the game” and start to change the approach we take in measuring the value for events. Conferences need to promise — and deliver — on education and increasingly critical business objectives, or Business Return On Investment (B.R.O.I). This proves value and keeps all participants – attendees, sponsors and even speakers — coming back year after year.
Providing education at a conference is formulaic, and even easy, especially if you have an event highly sought after for speaking proposals. In fact, most conferences are designed specifically for this tried and true setup, with education scenarios repeating a mix of sessions, panels and seminars. For attendees, the most difficult part of accessing education at a conference is simply choosing which sessions they’d like to attend based on their interests. They show up in the appointed room focused on content, handout and speakers, often with little time to really connect with many participants. Even in cases where participants are able to find other professionals with a common interest, they often aren’t given the opportunity to connect.
At a conference, meeting people representing relevant businesses opportunities can be incredibly difficult. One can only imagine the time wasted by conference attendees as they wandered session hallways, exhibit floors, and huge convention networking parties in the hopes of making meaningful and productive business connections. How does one even find and start a conversation outside of conference sessions? How do you approach certain topics or communicate your company’s needs? And how can one even be confident about the potential of a positive outcome? And let’s not mention today’s digital diet breeding folks who may find it harder than ever to start conversations.
The Answer? Guarantee Connections
A 2014 survey by CT Business Travel and Neomam Studios found that 95% of professionals believe face-to face-meetings are key to successful business relationships. [source]
Event planners have a way to not only facilitate connections between conference attendees but also to guarantee a level of predictable and productive interaction that can drive maximum value for all event participants. By offering prescheduled meetings, planners help registrants focus on pre-show preparation so that when they arrive, they have an itinerary of set appointments and plans to discuss specific topics and needs with their planned connections.
Powerful, algorithm-based technology, like our SwiftSchedule solution, can help boost these appointments by matching attendees based on pre-selected preferences, while saving time for meeting planners and eliminating manual processes. Instead of having participants take a chance on finding and striking up a conversation, we can now work to have more and more participants saying those 3 or 6 or even 10 meetings “made the whole event worth the trip.” And the best part? No manual process or back and forth necessary from the planning team or participants.
According to survey results cited in Forbes Insights, 44% of professionals say they prefer in-person conferences and business meetings because they provide a better environment for tough, timely decision making. Additionally, 87% of professionals believe that face-to-face meetings are essential for selling a business deal. These decisions and deals can’t be made unless conference attendees are able to get themselves in front of the people and companies who are most relevant to their goals. Ultimately, prescheduled, preference-based meetings provide value beyond far beyond typical conference sessions because of these powerful connections.
Business Return On Investment = B.R.O.I.
Providing ROI is vital in the world of events, 75% of organizers with event budgets between $50 and $100 million say they expect an ROI of more than 5:1 for live event and experiential programs. Instead of leaving a conference feeling as though their time away from the office and money was wasted, businesses need to participate in conferences where there is at least some sense of progress towards business goals. That’s not terribly difficult when 74% of event attendees say that they have a more positive opinion about the company, brand, product or service being promoted after the event.
However, when conference attendees and participants walk away from an event, planners want them to recognize the value of the conference. The best way to guarantee repeat attendance for future events is by ensuring that attendees are leaving with not only new information and greater insights into their goals and objectives, but that they have also made new powerful connections and participated in productive meetings with those connections. This eases follow-up for all participants and greatly ensures they feel the value of not just event ROI, but of true B.R.O.I.