Why do some events experience great success while others seem to plateau? We decided to look at events like Lantern Festivals, SXSW, Color Runs, Spartan Races, and asked ourselves, “What is the link between these events that seem to never have a problem with attendee count?”
What did we find? Money and marketing were not the main drivers. Instead, we found these events focus on three things: emotional, social, and experiential impact. Ultimately the goal is to focus on the experience the attendee is having while at your event.
As Millennials become the single largest consumer group, there are connections between the community and creativity values of the Millennial generation and younger generation z, to the success of these events. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves and tapping into these generational values is definitely something to pay attention to.
Here are three things to consider to give your attendees the experience they're looking for.
1. Emotional Impact
How did this event make your attendee feel? Do they feel appreciated? Are your staff excited that the attendees are there? Are they even noticed? Consider what you want your attendees to feel when they walk out of your doors. What are you doing to achieve that feeling? A lantern festival makes you feel hopeful and grateful. A race makes you feel accomplished and worthy. A tech conference can make you feel connected and intellectual. Once you pinpoint the emotions you want your attendee to feel, you can structure your event to make sure it helps feed that emotion.
2. Social Impact
Attendees usually want to bring someone or a group of people to share the experience with. Races hit on this impact point by promoting team creation. When you sign up, you can create or join a team. It’s a fun way to build comradery amongst the runners. Tech companies even provide networking opportunities. I once attended Mind the Product Conference and they used a networking app called Grip. It helped attendees meet new people and network based on their experiences. Lantern festivals are full of families and significant others attending because lantern lighters want to share the spectacular moment of filling the sky with hope and dreams with those closest to them.
3. Experiential Impact
Engaging the senses will help them experience your event more. How can they touch, see, taste, and feel your event? Be creative with your lighting and staging, especially throughout your breakout and lounge areas. Successful music festivals pull in all types of art, dancing, live painting sessions, and more, to help pull in other senses for a lasting impact.
Food is another way to stand out. How are you serving your snacks and beverages? Maybe spice it up by serving a unique beverage or tapa tastings. With craft coffee being incredibly popular, provide local coffee for attendees. Highlight the best of your city. Thinking of unique ways for your attendees to fully interact with the event will help them remember the experience they had with your event.
Your event is more than a one time moment. You’re creating a lasting memory for your attendees. If you connect beyond the what into the why - you create an unforgetting event that will have people coming back for more.