7 Key Considerations When Personalising Event Experiences

In an era where people’s attention is rapidly declining, having the ability to offer people relevance is critical.  So when the right event content is offered to the right attendee at the right time, chances are they will respond positively and more likely want to repeat the experience the next time round.

Using personalisation to improve the way attendees engage with your events can have enormous benefits.  But despite 73% of organisers seeing personalisation as a key priority around their events, a new eBook, titled ‘The Event Planner’s Guide to Personalisation has found that many also come up against a number of challenges that make it quite difficult to implement.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the top considerations you need to think about when planning successful personalisation campaigns around your events:

1) Align Personalisation to Event Objectives

Personalisation is not a tactical activity – but a strategic one.  All your events have a business objective and personalisation is a tool to help you achieve them. Get started by taking a step back and consider your event’s key business goals.  Is it to engage with customers?  Boost sales?  Launch a product?  Or grow a community? For example, if your objective is to increase sales, is there a particular audience segment that is underperforming and could be significantly impacted by a personalised event experience? Considering which business aspects your personalisation efforts can have an impact on can help you focus on the right areas.  It will also help you get the management buy-in you need to reinvest funds back into the programmes as you start seeing returns.

2) Implement a Data Strategy for Personalisation

Your ability to personalise is only as good as your data. After all, without data, how will you know who your returning attendees are, what messaging resonates with them or what convinces new people to visit your event website? Having a clear data strategy around your personalisation efforts is therefore critical. Without one, you’ll end up with too much data. Or not enough of the right kind of data.  Worse, you’ll risk upsetting your attendees by asking them for too much information with little gain in return.

Start the process by identifying what data you already hold on attendees, how you’re going to segregate audiences and what information you want to collect from them. Make sure the right data sources are in place to identify and prioritise the best areas for personalisation.  Is it email communications?  Is it the registration experience?  Or is it networking? It is also important to pull together the right team members and stakeholders in this process. The earlier you do this, the more effective your personalisation efforts will be.

Read: 4 Benefits of Personalising Attendee Experiences

3) Clean Up Your Attendee Data

Our research found nearly 50% of event planners say dealing with inaccurate data is one of the main challenges they have around personalisation.  In fact, using outdated or irrelevant information to target attendees cancels out any benefits of personalisation – even creating an overall negative experience as a result.  You need to have processes in place that allows you to continuously update your attendee data.  If your returning attendees, for example, are entering the same registration information at each event or correcting the data you hold on them time and time again, you are only going to frustrate them.  Using a registration system that automatically updates your central database can help you improve the quality of your event data over time.

4) Consider Data Integration

Events deal with so many different systems to capture and manage information around their attendees – from their event tech like registration systems and apps to back-end solutions like CRM, marketing and finance.  Pooling all this data together where systems can automatically share information can help you gain a better understanding of your attendees and their behaviour around events. Automatic data synching between systems also ensures you’re relying on the most up-to-date information.

Read: The Event Planner’s Guide to Data Integration 

Understanding how a customer has recently engaged with your organisation’s sales team, for example, can help you personalise the agenda information you send them in your event invite. Having this ‘single view’ of the attendee allows you to personalise event experiences a lot more effectively.  And it’s not as complicated as you might think.  A lot of event management solutions like Eventsforce offer an open API which makes it very easy to integrate your attendee data with all the other systems you use around events.

5) Personalisation Vs Privacy – Get the Balance Right

How much personalisation should you do? How much will drive engagement?  And how much will annoy your attendees?  Getting this balance right is key. One way of doing this is to put yourself in the place of the attendee.  What kind of personalisation would YOU want?  Is it session recommendations?  App notifications? Or tools that facilitate meetings with other like-minded people? Your aim should always be to deliver the right content to the right person at the right time – not bombard them with irrelevant information.

Read: Top subject lines for your event email campaigns

It’s also important that your attendees understand why you’re gathering information from them and how it is going to bring value to their event experience.   They need to understand that by providing that data, they are starting a relationship with you based on that data.

6) Don’t Forget About GDPR

The frequency of high-profile data security breaches is shaking up people’s trust in the way organisations manage their personal information.  It has also highlighted the need for more tighter regulations around data protection, like the new EU GDPR. The legislation, which came into effect in May 2018, gives EU citizens more control over what data organisations are collecting about them and how it is protected and used. And it applies to any organisation that interacts with an EU citizen. So if you are hosting events in the US but have attendees coming from the EU, then GDPR compliance will apply to you.

Read: Infographic – Are Your Events Complying to GDPR?

GDPR does not put a stop to data collection and personalisation – it simply requires you to have a more clearly defined strategy. One that focuses less on irrelevant data, and more on gaining consent for contextually important and actionable data. This means getting clear consent from your attendees when collecting their information.  They also need to understand how their data is going to be used and what the benefits will be of sharing this data with regards to their event experience. Again, event management systems like Eventsforce have GDPR tools than make the whole process of tracking and managing consent and securing attendee data a lot easier.

Read: Event Marketing Under GDPR – Consent Vs. Legitimate Interest

7) Measure the ROI of personalisation

Research has found that 1 in 3 event planners find it difficult to measure the return of their personalisation efforts – which is an issue.  How can you justify the time and resources you spend on personalisation when you can’t quantify the results?  One strategy around this is to demonstrate what happens when you don’t have personalisation in place, versus when you do.  Create A/B test campaigns focusing on existing segment data and one or two variables (ex. personalising session recommendations in invitation emails).

It is also a much better approach to make several small personalisation tests, learn what has potential and repeat the process – rather than one big test that takes months to develop and may not have the impact you expected.  By starting small, you’ll move faster, learn more and apply those take-aways to your campaigns. Through testing and gathering tangible evidence, it will be easier for you to see the potential return on investment of personalisation.


It’s safe to say that the whole issue of data is a big one when it comes to personalisation.  Before even starting the process, you need to think about what data you’re going to collect from attendees and agree across your organisation on how this data is going to be used for the purpose of personalisation.  Attendees also need to understand why you’re gathering their information and how it is going to bring value to their event experience.  Getting that balance right is really key if you want personalisation to work.

What are the best ways you can effectively personalise attendee experiences?  How much of it should you do?  And more importantly, how do we measure the results?  Get answers to these fundamental questions by getting YOUR copy of ‘The Event Planner’s Guide to Personalisation’.