The world of events continues to recover from the doldrums of peak Covid – overall activity fell by 95% across the UK between September 2020 and September 2021 according to The Business Visits & Events Partnership (BVEP).
This is good news for most industries, likewise for those who value in-person networking opportunities and free canapes.
We spoke to experts in event planning and strategy to understand the latest approaches for increasing event registrations.
Be clear, specific and widen the audience
William Simmonds, general manager of Glaziers Hall, a prestigious events space on London’s South Bank took us through their pitch.
“Starting with the basics, event planners should never underestimate how important it is to ensure event details are accessible and clear. Being vague simply puts people off. Any prospective delegates want to know what, where and when so they can make a quick and informed decision.
“Also, being specific about how they will benefit from attending, with a spotlight on any high-profile speakers or industry leaders that will be present will give guests the rationale they need to take the time out of their diary to come along.
“Sharing the details on relevant websites and across social media channels, while encouraging all team members to do the same, will encourage more opportunities to see. This means that any event planner can widen the target audience and attract as many delegates as possible.
“Incentivise attendance through the networking opportunities each event provides. Building this into the schedule throughout the day not only attracts but retains delegates. Furthermore, providing the option for drinks and canapes post-event extends that engagement and dwell time.”
Concept, timing and communication
Head of events at Conscious Communications Ltd, Elle Roberts-Nissen has more than ten years of experience in event planning in the hospitality and corporate sector, and recommends increasing event registrations by breaking strategy down into three components.
“My main piece of advice to anyone looking to increase delegate numbers at events is to consider three things: Concept, timing and communication. The concept for an event is vital – come up with a unique and bespoke concept which can theme the event and attract attendees.
“Take into consideration time of year but also the lifestyle of the audience you are trying to target; it is harder to get people to register for conferences outside of business hours.
“Finally, if you have organised a brilliant event, you need to communicate it! Put yourself in the shoes of the people you want to attend your event. Give them a reason to want to RSVP by making it worth their time; a stellar line-up or packed agenda usually works a treat.”
Ensure your message is varied
Remembering your target audience might be interested in different aspects of the event is the tip from Liv Harris, 0perations director at events agency Goho.
“Make sure you advertise the values of your event. Don’t just put out the same message, highlight different benefits such as the speakers, the networking opportunities, the break-out areas. Different things will attract different people, so make sure your messaging is varied.
“It’s also no secret that everyone loves a discount, so offer early bird tickets, group discounts, referral schemes and you could even reward the first 100 delegates with a free hot drink (this will guarantee people turn up on time!).
“From our experience, there isn’t one quick fix that will get delegates through the door – it’s a combination of careful planning, messaging with a few freebies thrown in along the way.”
You need a reason for them to leave the house
With more people working from home on a regular basis, Helen Lewis, Director of Literally Public Relations Ltd has some interesting thoughts on how the classic literary event has changed which applies to many industries.
“Make your event stand out so they HAVE to be there: whether it’s a unique venue, a view of the city that rarely gets seen, interesting, unusual or celebrity fellow guests.
“You have to give them a reason to be there rather than just get the information/book via email or at a later date. It has to be there and then – a ‘need to do’ rather than ‘nice to do’.
“And consider where people are travelling from when choosing that venue – remember that many people are not in the office five days a week so will be travelling in specifically for the event from home. There really needs to be a reason to leave that sofa.”
Finally, tech solutions are here to stay
The evolution of digital-only and hybrid events accelerated over the past two years, and technology is now a reliable way of increasing event registrations according to Rosh Singh, MD @ UNIT9 and Saroosh Gull, CEO of Eventcombo.
“Digital innovation has transformed our sector as the industry has risen to unprecedented challenges. Today’s event attendees want and expect more from events, which makes it paramount that event organisers remain vigilant in keeping up with rising trends,” says Saroosh .
“Some of our best practices include understanding the importance of data security and implementing secure procedures to ensure obtained data remains protected. I also recommend that events move away from heavy content focus and instead create an enthralling experience that utilises high-tech environments to make attendees feel immersed in the action.”
“We’re now firmly in the hybrid era when it comes to live experience and events. This means that event organisers need to break from the tradition of only offering a physical experience and instead blur the lines between real life and virtual in order to attract digital-native guests and expand their reach,” continues Rosh.
“Elton John’s recent AR concert at BST is a great example of offering audiences something different to the expected. And Goodwood Festival of Speed’s Lotus Aeroad app in 2021 allowed many more guests to connect with the event and interact with the legendary Central Feature from their homes. Offering elevated or more accessible tech-led experiences like these is a sure way to boost registration numbers.”