9 tips to help professional conference organizers win more business
It’s a tough grind for professional conference and meeting organizers in 2023. Events marketplaces in Australia, the US, and the UK alike are crowded, making it harder than ever to stand out from the pack and win more business.
We’re proud to have more than 30 years of experience. During this time we’ve supported the delivery of some of the world’s biggest events, in partnership with the world’s leading events management companies. We’ve also had the honor of witnessing some of the world’s best event organizers in action.
While each has their own recipe for success, we couldn’t help but notice there are some characteristics and attitudes that seem to be common to very successful event organizers. Read on for our nine best tips to help you step up your own game – and win more business in the process.
1. Make attendee experience your #1 priority
It’s a simple truth (for a reason). Focus on creating memorable, engaging experiences for every attendee and you’re already halfway to success.
In practice, this means paying close attention to every aspect of the event that is within your control and building relationships with your broader events ecosystem to ensure all the details are taken care of – venues, caterers, transport, and so on.
Think of it this way. When you establish a positive tone as the leader of the event (“we’re focused on delivering the most memorable experience for attendees that we possibly can”), that attitude will flow through to everyone else involved in the event.
Of course, attendee experience has become a slightly more complicated topic since the arrival of hybrid and virtual events. Thankfully, there are a host of virtual engagement opportunities you can work with. The latest and greatest event apps, for example, will give your attendees instant access to event info, as well as engagement tools such as Q&A, live polling or session surveys, direct messages, gamification, and the ability to set up meetings and video calls with the click of a button.
It also pays to think about how you’re engaging your attendees in the lead-up to the event. Some ideas for this include:
- Town halls and webinars with speakers
- Blogs and opinion pieces from your thought leaders and speakers
- Social media posts engaging with the audience, using hashtags and discussion points.
2. Don’t forget your sponsors and exhibitors
It can be easy to get so caught up with the attendee experience that you find yourself neglecting another big part of the event equation – the sponsors and exhibitors. Building strong relationships and delivering value for this group will make a significant contribution to the success and overall quality of the conferences you organize.
It’s always a good idea to nurture these relationships all year round, and not just in the lead-up to a particular event. When you are planning for a particular event, consider the following ideas:
- Check-in with every sponsor and exhibitor at every stand, so you can put faces to names.
- Use your event data to match the right attendees directly to the right exhibitor stands, whether in-person or virtually and empower your sponsors and exhibitors with easy-to-use lead capture tools.
- Use gamification and other engagement tools to incentivize attendees to visit stands and engage with exhibitors.
- Make sure you have the right tools in place to understand and contextualize your event data and demonstrate ROI to those who have invested money in your event.
3. Leverage testimonials and case studies creatively
We live in an age of social proof – no one buys anything without knowing it comes with recommendations from other consumers of the product or service. It helps if you can demonstrate innovative and flexible thinking and the strength of your relationship with a happy client.
This is also true of event management services, so always make sure you’re on the lookout for testimonials and case studies from happy clients. If you’re targeting particular industries or types of clients, make sure you build your case studies and testimonials in these categories.
It’s also important to get creative when you’re thinking about how to create and leverage this content. Long-form written case studies still have a place in the marketing mix, but don’t stop there. Video content is important too:
- Is there an opportunity to gather vox pops from happy attendees and sponsors on-site?
- Will the client participate in a video to talk about how you worked together to solve challenges?
Don’t forget to tag the client organization, plus any individuals mentioned, in your social media posts promoting the testimonial content. This will broaden your reach and add credibility to the testimonial.
4. Lean on your steering committee
Most events have a steering committee drawn from across different organizations. This is a huge opportunity for event organizers – and one that is often overlooked.
Always take the opportunity to build your relationship with each member of the steering committee as you’re building the event. Word of mouth is incredibly important in most industries, and steering committee members are generally highly respected members of the community.
There are numerous ways you can incorporate steering committee members into the event planning and delivery process, such as:
- Get their input and feedback while you’re designing the event and show that you’re listening to what they have to say.
- Provide them with customized graphics, text, and artwork to promote the event on their own social channels, which are likely to be influential and extensive.
- Lean on your positive relationships to request a case study or testimonial when the event wraps up (see point three).
5. Find your point of difference and work it
There are a lot of professional event organizers in the world, so it can be hard to stand out. Being personable and efficient is no longer enough. The best of the best have all spent time identifying their point of difference and what sets them apart from the rest.
That doesn’t necessarily mean being the best at something or winning all the top-tier clients. It could mean you service a particular industry or type of client. If you set aside time to do your audience persona work, you’ll know exactly who you’re targeting, where you’re going to target them, and how you’re going to cut through the noise.
Related to this, try to avoid taking a “one size fits all” or checklist mentality with your events – instead demonstrate that you understand your niche, whatever it happens to be, and are committed to designing an event that is tailored to the client’s requirements and brief.
6. Invest in yourself… because you’re worth it
As a professional meeting organizer, you don’t always have control over the ebbs and flows of your work. However, don’t let this stop you from setting aside regular chunks of time to invest in yourself and your business. All the leaders in this industry do it.
Events for professional event organizers are also a must for professional development. We’d love to welcome you to our annual conference, AirTime 2023, in London, Las Vegas, Brisbane, or virtually this October. It’s shaping up to be an exciting line-up of sessions led by industry experts, thought leaders, and of course, our very own product and development teams.
7. Spend the right amount of time on your business
Spending time on your business is just as important as the time you dedicate to your own development. It’s not always easy to do, given the nature of our work, but try to set aside dedicated time to debrief with clients and sponsors after each event. Post-event data is another source of important feedback that needs to be considered while it’s fresh.
The cadence of these ‘reflection sessions’ doesn’t really matter, as long as it’s regular. What matters is that you’re spending time reflecting on the events you’ve delivered, as well as strategizing for the road ahead.
8. Harness the power of technology
At EventsAir, we love helping our customers get the most from the latest and greatest event technology!
On the other side of the coin, this isn’t about throwing every single piece of technology into the mix for every event and hoping for the best. The right technology should enhance the event when it’s used properly and thoughtfully – it shouldn’t overwhelm the experience.
If you stay up-to-date with the latest tools and applications you’ll have a wealth of knowledge and features at your fingertips, and be better informed about when and how to use each of them. This means staying in touch with our industry’s governing bodies, reading blogs with useful information for event organizers (like this one), and staying in touch with your network to find out what’s working for others.
9. Choose your partners wisely
Last but not least, it goes without saying that you should always make smart, informed decisions when you’re choosing a partner to help support your next event. It’s always best to go with an event tech partner with deep experience in delivering events – rather than just offering a technical solution and leaving you to do the heavy lifting.
The benefits of the right event tech partner are numerous. Importantly, you’ll be able to ask for help if there’s something you’re not confident with or don’t have the time to do yourself. You want to be sure you’re going to have access to the right help and advice, at the right time.
As we always say to our customers: don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need us, it’s what we’re here for (which is perhaps the most important tip of all).
How can we help you deliver successful events?
At EventsAir, we understand the importance of selecting the right event technology partner – someone who can help you deliver exceptional events both today and in the future. We understand that your events need to transcend format – whether hybrid, virtual, or live – and be exceptional, no matter how they are delivered.
We have one simple mission: to help event planners deliver the WOW in their events with the world’s most powerful event management technology. We’ve delivered some of the world’s biggest events, and we’d love to help you too.
Reach out to request a demo and one of our team members will be in touch shortly.