From gimmicks to value...
EIBTM Blog: Shuli Golovinski
Way too many event planners think have fallen under the mistaken belief that all you have to do is put forth a nice gimmick, and you'll keep people coming to your events. While it is true that people will talk about an event where there was an interesting gimmick for awhile, do you really want your event to devolve into little more than party talk?
While having something interesting for your guests to do is nice, it can never be the entire emphasis of your events. If you do that, your guests will eventually start to wonder why they came to your event in the first place. And when a person is in doubt about something, such as whether or not they will be going to your event next year, the default answer is usually "no."
Think about how expensive it is for your attendees to come to your events in the first place. They have travel expenses galore, especially if they come from another country, or even another continent. Why do you think they're coming to your events, instead of just staying at home and looking up what they want to know online?
There was a time, long ago in a galaxy far, far away when people would have to travel great distances in order to gain knowledge. But with the advent of telephones, knowledge became only a phone call away. And ever since the Internet became the ubiquitous tool it's recently become, knowledge has gotten even easier to come by. "Googling" something is now in the lexicon as a verb, and has become synonymous with researching something.
No matter where you're located, your event services are not unique. No longer is someone bound to use what you provide, just because you're nearby. They can go anywhere in the world, now. And by extension, people can come from anywhere in the world to come to you, if you offer them something special. What do you offer, hundreds or even thousands of miles away, that a search engine from a home or office can't offer?
In one word, you offer value. Value is the reason why someone would drop what they're doing, and take several days (perhaps even a week or more) out of their busy lives, leaving their families and coming to your event. Value can take on a lot of different meanings to a lot of different people. But value boils down to how much of a return your attendee delegates can receive from the investment they make in your events.
In another word, you offer the technologies that allow people to get what they want. Technology is a huge part of value, but only when it is properly harnessed. You can harness technology through helping people to network, to interact, and to bring their questions and their answers into the common fold.
Structured networking is the latest method by which people come together. Through allowing people to harness the power of social networking, they can build their profiles and share what they know with others who also have valuable knowledge. In this way, you can allow people to connect with one another as they never could the old way.
Sharing research through e-posters is another way technology is the best means of sharing value. After all, people didn't do all of that work for nothing. And this knowledge needs to be shared, in order for others to benefit from it. Sure, people could just go online for whatever they want to learn. But they lose a lot of the unique benefits that only exhibitors and speakers can provide.
For one thing, an online article or video can never respond to people's questions and contributions. And while anyone can theoretically post their own content, either on their own site or YouTube, there is something about the interactions that people can only have in person that make an event a special place for sharing insights and hard-won wisdom. When people interact, a little thing called synergy happens, bringing about incredible solutions to the problems every profession faces. And that synergy takes the kind of connection that only technology can bring about.
When it comes down to it, most of your event-goers (and your exhibitors) are out to make money, learn something new, and add more professional contacts to their rolodexes. Even if they are only interested in one of these activities, you need to focus on providing the most help you can toward achieving their preferred goal. Skip the gimmicks, and just focus on adding value.
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