It’s rare to find a silver bullet that actually works. For attendance acquisition, that bullet is the attendee list. In other words, to attract more attendees, let them know who else is already coming.
Your conference participants want to hang out with the cool kids. They want to be part of the in crowd.Theywant to capitalizeonthe hallway con- versations and networking. They want to grow their professional connections—both innumber and in quality. For most conferences, networking is the primary reason why many register and attend. It’swhyface-to-face trumps all other forms of engagement. Sadly, manymeeting organizers don’t leverage
thepowerof their attendee list. Somethinkthat the list needs to be kept proprietary or behind the membership wall. In today’s digital world, nearly everyone already
has an online profile that includes his or her com- pany name. Go out on a limb and leverage the
2. LinkedIn and Facebook events.Encourage
your well-connected and veteran attendees to RSVPvia the event featuresonone or both of these social platforms. Set up a Facebook event that is connected to your Facebook conference page. Ask committeemembers andactive volunteers toRSVP and post on the conference or event-page wall. Dependingonthe FacebookEdgeRank, the partic- ipant’s activity will show up in others’ news feeds. This viral impact can be substantial for you and valuable to participants. Periodically post helpful content to the conference and event pages to give participants a reason to come back. 3. Matchmaking appointment-setting tools.
Technology providers are rolling out one-on-one appointment-setting or matchmaking tools faster
Many meeting organizers don’t leverage their attendee list.
attendee list online, everywhere you are placing your registration call to action. Here are four ways to consider providing that information: 1.A PDF on your website. This is one of the
safest and easiest ways to handle the list. On a weekly basis, download a list of all registrants to date and save it as aPDF. Provide one version that is sorted alphabetically by last name and another version organized by company name.Omitcontact information, including email and street addresses, andphonenumbers. Create a“LookWho’sCom- ing” link to thisPDFfor prospective registrants and exhibitors. Some registration companies are build- ing“who’s coming” functionality into their offer- ings. If yours isn’t, encourage them to make it a high priority in their development pipeline.
than any of us can keep up. I’m really high on the ones that allow participants to import their LinkedInaccount, leveraging their existingnetwork andprofile.Lookfor tools that encourage attendees to invite their existing connections to attend. For maximumadoption, train your stakeholdershow to use these tools. Solutions that deliver value to mobile users are your best bet. 4.Anticipation-basedapps.Some people have
begun to use online anticipation-based applications like Plancast, Lanyrd, and TripIt. Think of these applications as check-ins for the future. They allow users to broadcast their plans to attend future conferences to their online social networks. Makesure you have your conference listed in Plan- cast andLanyrd totake advantage of the freemar- keting those attending your event will give you.
ON_THE_WEB: Jason Keath wrote a great blog post a couple of years ago that serves as a reminder of how participants make the decision to attend: http://jasonkeath.com/why-i-travel-to- conferences-last-minute.
16 pcma convene May 2011 ILLUSTRATION BY BRAD YEO
Conversations that occur on the shuttle bus, over a cup of coffee, or in the hall- ways are often the most valued by your conference partici- pants. The more you can jumpstart those connections, the more you’ll increase conference ROI, posi- tive word of mouth, and, ultimately, loyal- ty. When you make your attendee list available to potential and registered atten- dees, you give them the opportunity to do more than have chance encounters; they are able to actively seek out col- leagues with whom they want to connect.
Dave Lutz, CMP, is managing director of Velvet Chainsaw Consulting,www .velvetchainsaw.com, a business-improvement consultantcy specializing in the meetings and events industry. His com- pany assists organizations in realizing top- and bottom-line growth by delivering customer- focused solutions in business development, best practice and process improvement, strategic planning, and training.