Creating personalised experiences is something that companies tend to do very well in the online world. Just take a look at companies like Netflix and Amazon, suggesting personalised recommendations based on what they already know about their customers. The likes of Cadburys, Starbucks and Marmite have also been getting in on the act over the last couple of years. And it’s safe to say that personalisation is now finally making its mark in the events industry. Why? Because it works.
In the same way marketing targets different messaging for different audiences, event planners can use personalisation to deliver content, offers, event experiences and networking opportunities based on what they already know about their delegates. Sophisticated data capture tools – from event registration systems and RFID to online surveys and event apps – are helping event planners collect and analyse valuable delegate information to create more powerful and targeted events.
This month, a study from Eventsforce found that personalisation was a key priority for 82% of event planners, with 97% believing it would have a positive effect on a delegate’s perception of their brand and event. Despite these claims, however, many felt that the lack of time and resources posed as the biggest barriers with only 27% consistently using it as part of the marketing efforts around their events.
Though it has its challenges and can vary in its effectiveness from one event to another, personalisation doesn’t have to be as complicated as one might think. Most organisations today use some form of automated system to manage registrations around their events and it is good starting point for any kind of personalisation you may want to do around your events. Why? Because it acts as the first point of contact for your delegates and lies at the heart of all your communications in the run up to your event.
Have a look below at seven easy ways you can use your registration process to personalise events:
1. Personalised Event Invitation
Personalising invitations is simple and effective. By tailoring them as much as possible to the invitee and their specific business sector, you massively increase the chances they will attend. Our study showed that 38% of event planners break down their attendees by type when deciding on marketing activities around their events. So if you know that your delegate list is made up of corporates and academics, then it makes sense to create two separate versions of the same invitation with each one outlining the sessions that would be of interest to them. Remember – both audiences have a vested interest in attending your event but they have very different goals and very different ideas on why your event matters to them.
2. Create Different Landing Pages for Your Event Website
In the same you can tailor the content of your invitation, you can also tailor your event website for different audiences – our study found that 21% of event planners are already doing this and we expect this trend to grow. For example, an event site that provides information on peer reviews, abstracts, a list of research fellows and referenced publications may be more interesting for your academics. Whereas your corporate audience will be much more interested in seeing commercial ideas that the event aims to address, a list of other businesses that are going to attend and who they’re going to meet when they are there. You may use the page to promote an early bird rate to an academic but may not bother for a commercial audience as academics are more likely to book their places months in advance due to budget allocations at the beginning of the year.
3. Use Unique Registration Paths for Different Attendee Categories
Personalise the registration journey by creating different registration paths for each type of attendee. Some registration systems support this functionality so it doesn’t have to be complicated. Before starting the registration process, find out the category your attendee falls into – whether that be a delegate, sponsor, exhibitor, speaker and so on. Or you may also choose to categorise by industry – like academics or corporate as mentioned in our earlier example. Each attendee will then be led through a set of registration questions that are specific to their selected category. For example, exhibitors may get asked about stand sizes, whereas journalists may be asked to upload accreditation documents. Members may be able to select special discount options, whereas a VIP may get asked if they’ll be attending the VIP cocktail party at the end of your event. Having a unique registration path for your VIP guests will ensure their questions aren’t visible to other attendees – and more importantly, it will make your VIP feel that the questions were ‘personalised’ for them throughout the whole registration journey.
4. Find Out What Your Delegates Want
Our study found that 62% of event planners are personalising events by using crowdsourcing tools with their attendees to determine things like agendas and session topics (44%), speakers (24%) and dining preferences (18%). Using your registration form to capture your attendees’ views and opinions can be a quick and cost-effective way of personalising their event experience. For example, you can ask your delegates what topics are of particular interest for them at your motor show. Are they interested in the servicing side of the business or electronics? You can then share this information with your exhibitors and ensure the right kind of discount offer is included in the right delegate pack upon checking-in at the event. This is a lot more personalised than including discount offers from all your exhibitors as you will almost certainly include things that are of no interest to them.
You can also use registration form to ask more ‘personal’ questions like what is their favourite coffee and offering them a personalised free coffee offer as part of their delegate pack. You could capture information about their hobbies or thoughts and include that on their delegate badges – a great icebreaker when attending networking events. The more people network, the more business occurs and the more likely they are to come again.
5. Use Delegate Networking Tools
Almost 20% of event planners are using delegate networking tools to personalise experiences around their events. By integrating ‘meeting planner’ tools as part of your registration process, delegates will be able to personalise their agendas, see who is attending that may be of interest to them and set up meetings with people they want to meet. These tools are quite good in that they don’t allow delegates to schedule meetings that clash with other meetings or sessions that they’ll be attending at the event. Or if the system knows if the delegate is leaving a day early, it won’t allow them to accept invitations for meetings on the next date.
6. Personalised Email Communications
In the same way you’re able to personalise the invitation, the event website and registration form for different attendee categories, you can also personalise all your email communications in the run up to the event. Let’s look at an example of a delegate who has requested a Kosher or Halal meal at the event. Typically, this meal is almost never served with the main event buffet so the delegate has to liaise with the catering staff or event planner to locate it on the day. This isn’t a great experience for your delegate and it is also inefficient as it means the event planners has one more thing to think about at a time when they are very busy. Instead, send the delegate a personalised registration confirmation email that will include details on where they can pick up their meal on the day of the event.
Again, some registration platforms will support this through an integrated mail merge service, which collates all relevant delegate information in an automatic confirmation email. And it makes no difference if you have 50 people attending your event or 50,000. The process is quite simple and takes very little time. It also makes more sense to include this kind of ‘personalised’ information in your delegate emails than details on the weather or the nearest taxi firm (most of this information is instantly available to anyone with a smartphone or an internet connection these days). Again, remember that you only have a limited time to capture your delegates’ attention – the more information on your confirmation email, the more likely they will jump through some of the more important things like the start time of the session they want to attend.
7. Don’t Forget About Reporting
The kind of personalisation you offer delegates will be determined by the kind of data you decide to capture and the reports you produce. The earlier you do this when you’re setting up the registration for your event, the more effective your personalisation efforts will be. Think about it from the start as opposed to when you NEED the data because that will probably be the time you’re at your busiest and data structures are unlikely to change the closer you get to the event.
Think about the reports you want so that you can figure out the right questions you need to put across to your delegates. Think about how you want to slice up the data so that you can get the reports you want and collate the analytics that will allow you to personalise your events. For example, you may decide to create a report that will collate all the delegates attending a particular session. Some event planners may share this list with all the other delegates attending that session. But you can do more. Break it down by company type, interests and goals and share the list with your session speaker. He or she can then use this information to tweak the content of their presentation or personalise it with content or examples that are more relevant to the audience.
Breaking down your delegates by type will allow you to create the segregated reports you want. Knowing that 70% of your delegates are female, love coffee and their primary objective is networking can give you the intelligent data you need to help you personalise their experience. So if you’re hosting an event in London and you know that a large part of your attendees are coming from overseas, you may opt for ‘fish and chips’ as your lunch menu as international delegates prefer local cuisine. Or if you know that most of your attendees will be leaving early on the last day of your event, it may be a better option for you to offer them a packed lunch that day instead of a buffet and ask them in advance about their sandwich preferences.
If you require a registration process that can personalise your attendees’ event experience, speak to our experienced team today.
Written by Paul Harris, Eventsforce.