Drive year-round experience

Assuming your annual event lasts for two days, then to engage attendees for the other 363 days each year, says Victor Leung, executive director at Pico Beijing, it is vital to build a digital community or a ‘curated nation’ on a single platform to bind attendees.

“We achieve this by creating seamless online and offline conversations between attendees and exhibitors, using context marketing that is optimised through a robust data-based content-management system,” he says, adding that this CMS tracks customer interaction and allows access to that data in real time, facilitating highly personalised experiences.

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Promote resources

Following the Professional Convention Management Association’s (PCMA) annual meeting, Convening Leaders, 75 per cent of sessions are available to participants on demand. Michelle Crowley, PCMA senior director of global strategy, says the body also organises a one-day rebroadcast of top sessions two to four weeks after the conference, free of charge.

This allows additional engagement opportunities for those who were not able to join face-to-face or via the live broadcast—or for those who would simply like to view a session again. Throughout the year, webinars and print materials explore the topics covered during the annual meeting, and further discussions take place on PCMA’s online forum, Catalyst.

Add a twist

Leah Carter, global head of events at the Association of MBAs says it’s key to maintain a line of regular contact with attendees—be this via face-to-face, phone or through social media. “Choose interesting locations and line-ups of speakers so people have something to look forward to,” she says. “Share content about the upcoming event at various times to keep people engaged and ensure you introduce new elements to annual events—so it’s a twist to a formula that you know already works.”

Exploit content

Putting congress content, enhanced or not, online and then driving traffic with a marketing campaign, can help bridge the gap, says Ben Hainsworth, executive director at KIT Group. He adds that planners can go further, setting up an online ‘chat’ related to the content and even adding links to related content such as guidelines, whitepapers and industry articles.

Tech can keep the momentum going

Marina Saya, marketing and sales support at Dorier, part of MCI Group, says technologies can be used to create a more personalised, engaging and emotional experience for attendees. This means they’re more likely to remember—and act upon—your key messages once the event is over.

With an app, planners can craft personalised messages to keep in touch with attendees. The app can also help measure audience engagement, and this data can be used to optimise the next event.