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Attendee Experience, Event Planning & Management
3 July 2023 

Attendee Experience: 15 Ideas To Increase Event Engagement at Your Next Conference

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Chaviva Gordon-Bennett
Attendee Experience: 15 Ideas To Increase Event Engagement at Your Next Conference

As an event organizer, it can be disheartening when your efforts to increase event engagement fail to meet your goal or when your carefully planned conference falls short of delivering the audience experience you envisioned.

The more engaging your event, the happier your attendees, and the more likely they are to sign up for your next event, share their experience on social media, and become brand evangelists.

With that said, 64% of planners report that their attendees are more interested in networking at events than before the COVID-19 pandemic — opening doors to massive opportunities for networking and fostering connections.

In line with this trend, event technology can take engagement to new heights, creating immersive experiences that will wow your attendees: In fact, a whopping 68.7% of event professionals agree that technology can enhance engagement like never before.

Plus, event organizer priorities have shifted accordingly, and a staggering 45% now prioritize attendee engagement. Keep reading to learn exciting event engagement ideas that can leave a lasting impression on your attendees.

What is attendee engagement?

Event engagement refers to the active and meaningful involvement of participants in an event, which creates a dynamic and interactive experience. It goes beyond attendance, focusing on capturing the attention, interest, and interaction of attendees to create a memorable event.

2
As an attendee, people’s expectations have changed. Focus on experiences — how to increase human interactions — and think through how people engage together, bringing in design and behavioral science. That’s how you make it engaging and fun.
Carina Bauer
CEO
IMEX

You can gauge event engagement by measuring the following:

  • Active participation
  • Meaningful interaction
  • Social media activity
  • Session feedback and ratings
  • Networking and relationship building

Pre-event Engagement Ideas

Laying a strong foundation for your event results in a truly remarkable experience. Start by creating a buzz, igniting curiosity, and fostering a sense of anticipation that leaves them eagerly counting down the days until your event unfolds.

1. Personalized Invitations and Communication

Imagine receiving an invitation that directly speaks to you. Feels special, right?

Instead of sending generic invitations, consider tailoring them to each recipient. Show them that you genuinely care about their participation. Sending invitations with personal details makes your attendees feel valued and increases the likelihood of engagement. Personalized calls are even better. 

Moreover, make it easy for potential attendees to reach out to you by offering them a variety of options, like the following:

  • An event website or landing page: Create a dedicated event website or landing page where attendees can find all the necessary details about the event. Include an FAQ section, registration links, contact information, and relevant resources.
  • Email communication: Send regular updates and reminders to registered attendees via email. These emails can include essential event details, session highlights, speaker announcements, and any pre-event materials or resources.
  • Online registration and ticketing: Utilize an online registration and ticketing platform that is user-friendly and allows attendees to easily register and make payments.
  • Personalized text messages: Around 91% of consumers would opt-in for text messages from brands. Take time to send personalized text messages to your potential participants.

2. Social Media Engagement and Event Hashtags

Leveraging social media platforms can dramatically increase your pre-event engagement. Here’s how you can do wonders with social:

  • Create buzz about your event on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Actively engage with your target audience and ignite their excitement.
  • Start sharing thrilling content related to your event, like teasers, behind-the-scenes footage, or sneak peeks.
  • Encourage attendees to spread the word by using event-specific hashtags in their posts, making it easier for others to find and join the conversation.
  • Create a Facebook event page. Use it to invite members, tag companies, and promote engaging content.
  • Use Instagram Reels to provide event updates or share exclusive behind-the-scenes content.

Make it easy for your audience to roll in right from your social media accounts.

3. Pre-event Surveys and Polls: Find Out What Your Attendees Want

One of the best ideas to increase event engagement is to conduct surveys and polls. This will help you uncover the preferences and expectations of your future attendees.

Some incredible ideas for pre-event surveys include the following:

  • Preferred networking activities: Include questions about the type of networking activities attendees would like to participate in. Options could range from structured icebreaker sessions to informal chats.
  • Food and beverage preferences: Asking about their dietary restrictions, favorite cuisines, and any specific food preferences will help to curate a menu that accommodates their diverse dietary needs.
  • Desired form of entertainment: Find out what kind of entertainment would captivate them by inquiring about their preferred forms of entertainment, such as live music, guest speakers, performers, and so on.
  • Favorite topics and formats: Determine whether they prefer traditional panel discussions, interactive workshops, keynote speeches, or other formats. 

Pro tip: Sharing the results of the surveys or polls with participants can also create a sense of anticipation and excitement as they see their input is considered.

Day-of Engagement Ideas

Finally, the big day has arrived. It’s time to create an atmosphere full of excitement and anticipation for those who have gathered to participate in your event.

Let’s learn some day-of engagement ideas that will help you elevate the attendee experience and contribute to a truly unforgettable occasion.

what's changed (and what hasn't) about in-person gatherings on-demand webinar

4. Welcoming and Interactive Registration Process

Give a warm welcome to your attendees by ensuring an easy, interactive registration process. Provide attendees with personalized QR codes that can be scanned upon arrival, allowing them to check in seamlessly.

Add a gamified element for a little charm. Empower attendees to earn points or rewards for completing registration tasks, such as scanning additional QR codes at various stations.

5. Engaging Keynote Speakers and Experiential Sessions

Arrange for keynote speakers who are charismatic and can captivate the audience. 

Additionally, include experiential sessions that provide hands-on learning opportunities. ranging from interactive workshops to immersive demonstrations, encouraging participants to engage actively.

6. Networking Opportunities

According to Bizzabo’s Hybrid Events Trends Report, 78% of in-person attendees prefer to network with other in-person attendees. You can ensure smooth networking among your audience to increase event engagement with the following:

  • Speed networking: Timed sessions for quick, focused conversations with multiple participants
  • Icebreaker activities: Fun exercises to break the ice and encourage interaction
  • Networking lounges: Dedicated areas with comfortable seating for informal networking

7. Gamification

Create challenges that attendees can participate in to earn points or rewards.

For example, attendees could earn points by visiting specific booths or completing tasks related to the event’s theme. These points could be redeemed for prizes or entered into a giveaway, adding excitement and friendly competition.

8. Live Polls and Q&A Sessions

Encourage attendees to participate by asking questions or sharing their opinions through live polls. 

9. High-tech Wearables

Elevate the attendee experience with high-tech wearables like the Klik Experiential Smartbadge™ from Bizzabo.

These smart badges enable seamless networking by allowing attendees to exchange contact information with a simple tap, while also providing personalized recommendations, session reminders, and real-time updates about the event schedule.

10. Offer Space and Opportunities for Self-care 

Rejuvenate the attendee event experience by prioritizing self-care during the busy event day. Set up dedicated spaces where attendees can relax and recharge. This can include wellness areas with massage chairs, meditation zones, or even a quiet room for attendees to decompress and reflect. For example, check out this epic greenspace from SaaStr Europa:

Post-event Engagement Ideas

The journey doesn’t end when the event is over. It’s time to embark on the next phase: post-event engagement, where we continue nurturing and maintaining meaningful connections.

Let’s explore strategies that will keep the conversation alive and deepen relationships among your attendees long after the event has concluded.

11. Post-event Webinars and Exclusive On-demand Content for Attendees

Keep your attendees buzzing with knowledge and inspiration. This can be done by arranging immersive webinars that dive deeper into the event’s key topics, providing valuable insights, expert interviews, and interactive discussions.

Excite your audience by allowing them to do the following:

  • Revisit sessions
  • Access bonus materials
  • Discover hidden gems they may have missed

12. Repurpose Event Content

It truly requires immense effort and dedication to create amazing sessions, so why not give them a second life? 

  • Transform your session recordings into captivating podcasts.
  • Develop short, attention-grabbing video clips from the event’s sessions and share them on social media platforms.
  • Convert your event session into on-demand videos or webinars.
  • Organize webinars or workshops based on event topics.

Want more ideas for content repurposing? Read this: 8 Ways To Repurpose Event Content and Level Up Your Content Strategy

13. Feedback Surveys and Testimonials

Feedback and testimonials are goldmines. Let your attendees speak their minds with interactive feedback surveys to help you gauge attendee satisfaction and focus on key areas of improvement.

Additionally, leverage testimonials to boost your credibility. Stand out with powerful social proofs to maximize the engagement of your future events.

14. Continued Networking Opportunities 

Do the doors of networking and relationship building close once the event is over? Never! To keep the event engagement going, continue to provide networking opportunities like virtual meetups, industry-specific forums, and curated networking sessions to fuel growth and create lifelong connections. 

15. Micro Events/Satellite Events With Follow-up Opportunities

Elevate the attendee experience by arranging micro-events. These bite-sized gatherings should focus on personalized agendas and carefully curated content to provide valuable insights.

Sessions like these allow attendees to engage with industry experts and foster connections beyond the main event.

Not sure what micro events or satellite events are? Read this: Satellite Events: How Localized Gatherings Can Help Scale Your Event Strategy

Get Started: Elevate Audience Engagement at Your Next Event

Increase event engagement with these actionable ideas and transform your next conference into an unforgettable experience that attendees rave about long after it’s over.

To further elevate your event, download our guide to AI chatbot prompts for event professionals and start scaling your event engagement strategy before it’s too late.

ultimate guide to AI chatbot prompts for event professionals

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