Take a moment to think: when were you last at an event that really impressed you? What made the event so special?
The trade fair, event, and conference industry is currently undergoing a period of reorientation. More and more often, the talk is about experience design, design thinking, and prototyping… CEBIT is becoming a Digital Festival, the fashion fair Bread&Butter by Zalando is positioning itself as a “Pop-Up of Style and Culture”. The Berlin science conference Falling Walls is focusing on the participants’ experience down to the smallest detail.
Organizers keep trying to reinvent the (event) wheel. The online world has already shown the way and the offline world is now following suit: It is the customer experience at all points of contact between a brand and its customers that determines success or failure.
Why does it make sense for trade fair and event organizers to analyze and optimize their customers’ experience? And how can it be done anyway?
One: Stand out from the crowd – it is the special element that counts
Take a moment to search for the term “IT event” on Google. I just did. The result is 4.4 billion hits! A search for “medical congress” still yields 808 million results.
Your participants are spoilt for choice these days. In addition, they can find the information they need at any time on the internet or on their smartphone. They go to trade fairs and events if they can expect to gain inspiration and experience something special. This applies to all points of contact a customer has with you, from the information on the website, registration, pre-event support, the journey to the trade fair, the welcome on site, visitor guidance, thru to the journey home and post-event communication.
The more often you succeed in offering customers something they do not get from the competition at these contact points, the more you will stand out from the crowd.
Two: Create moments to share
It is the echo in the online world that turns an event into THE event. When your customers spread a message like “I’m at an event right now – you can’t even imagine what it’s like!” on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, XING, or LinkedIn, then you have done a lot right. Create perfect photo opportunities. Always bear in mind “shareability” when designing stages and branding. This can be Superman on stilts who strode around the TALENTpro fair in Munich, this can be a photo box with the event logo, or musicians who make the time spent queuing pass more quickly.
Three: Make things as easy as possible for people
It is very simple in the online world. If a page does not load fast enough, potential customers lose interest and leave. Trade fair and conference organizers often still think in terms of processes rather than experiences.
Instead, offer a registration process that also works smoothly, quickly, and easily on cellphones, a matchmaking tool that connects suitable business partners with each other ahead of the event – we know of one, by the way… 😉 – and a website that also loads at lightning speed on a cellphone and provides customers with the most important information without lengthy searches.
That way, customers stay on track and do not give up in frustration.
Four: It is not the best product that wins – it is the best experience
Many smartphones are technically superior to Apple’s extremely expensive iPhones. And they are cheaper anyway. So, how did Apple still manage to become the most valuable company in the world? Because the customer experience takes center stage with them.
Good experiences attract people. That applies to trade fairs and conferences as well. Size is not what matters. For trade fair visitors, it is much more relevant who they can meet at an event, how well these contacts match their requirements – and how much they enjoyed the experience!
Five: A good experience is the best basis for diversification
All companies want to grow. Whatever that means. It could be size, turnover, employees, profit… The same applies to the world of trade fairs and conferences. Be it only because sales have dropped elsewhere, e.g., due to a trade fair being called off. Diversification is therefore the order of the day. And that requires the customers’ trust – which is fueled by positive experiences.
Let us take a look at the example of Online Marketing Rockstars. The starting point was a daily newsletter called “Online Marketing Rockstars Daily”. The content was great, the addressees were enthusiastic. This led to requests for a meeting in the real world – the birth of the Online Marketing Rockstars Festival, which has become one of the most important events in Germany’s digital economy with around 40,000 visitors.
And since that worked so well, how about Online Marketing Rockstars Deep Dives (seminars)? Or Reports (PDF publications)? Or a job exchange for the digital economy? The value chain based on the Online Marketing Rockstars brand is long – a result of the good user experience that fans associate with it.
The bottom line
Trade fairs and conferences that offer their participants unforgettable experiences set themselves apart from the competition and find their way into the hearts and minds of their customers.
Our motto at Converve is: “We work out the complicated stuff to simplify your event management.” We also apply this principle to the design of our business matchmaking software and focus on your customers’ experience. Contact us – or use our Converve bot down here on the right. Your experience is important to us as well!