When an event planner wants to attract attendees, they’ll typically think about logistical issues. For example, is the venue close to a significant airport, or does it have sufficient space and an “all in one” element to make movement easier? Yet times are changing, and it’s not enough to design an event this way anymore. Attendees are a lot more particular and will often buy with their heart as well as their head. So, if you want your next event to be a resounding success, why do you need to tap into some intellectual capital and make sure that your venue has the correct attributes?
Dealing with Convention
It’s no surprise that the key destination cities around the country have spent a fortune to develop sprawling convention centers. As just one example, Orlando’s Orange County Convention Centre covers 7 million ft.² and brings more than 200 events per year to this Central Florida city. In response, many event planners make a beeline for this type of facility as it will often have every base imaginable covered. Large hotels will stand nearby, and there are so many options for event configuration, there is little need to go elsewhere.
While nobody denies that the OCCC is a fantastic facility, you could argue that it represents “more of the same.” Attendees may get a sense of déjà vu as they progress through the event, and they may wonder if they are getting as much out of their investment as they could.
Off the Beaten Track
Maybe it is time to transition away from the conventional convention center and towards something more off the beaten track. Planners can look for facilities that may offer unusual facilities or a link to untapped resources. They may connect with local thought leaders or prominent individuals who can offer new experiences or education. In so doing, a planner will engage the intellectual resources of the venue or host city instead, and this may make the event far more appealing to the prospect attendee. The American Society of Association Executives suggest that Canada could be a source of meaningful, content-rich events for just such a purpose.
Remember, event space should not be simply a place to mingle or listen to somebody talking on a distant stage. It needn’t be a place where attendees feast on a menu designed by the hotel staff in a somewhat nondescript room. Instead, the venue could be an integral part of the experience, and this gives an enterprising planner a lot more scope for innovation.
Need to Be Flexible
For an event to be successful, everything starts at the planning stage. Potential attendees will look very carefully at any event agenda before deciding to attend, especially in the current landscape. These people are very conscious of safety and security and, if anything, even more entrenched in their ideas, feelings, and emotions. They’re not likely to be impressed by a venue or agenda that appears repetitive but may find something unconventional quite attractive instead.
Of course, a planner cannot throw all the rules out of the window and will need to consider accessibility, timing, and other fundamental logistical needs. After that, however, they should put all their previous experience to one side and start with a clean sheet of paper.
Searching Before You Build
To begin building the event’s intellectual capital, think about an unusual location with a special appeal. Look for a venue that is aesthetically pleasing and allows you to tap into local resources and provide some additional color. Business leaders, visionaries, scholars, or artisans could all contribute to the event in one way or the other, from an educational, artistic or support point of view.
You could make this a core part of the event itself or weave some of these elements into breakouts, meals or closing functions. Your attendees will be impressed and far more likely to commit if they can see that you’re trying to do something different. They’ll feel that it is worth their time and, crucially, help you avoid their tendency to stay at home in this post-pandemic world.
But where do you start, especially if you’re working on a repeat event with its own proven agenda?
- Researching. Begin by looking at your attendee avatar. Send out some questionnaires and see if you can learn more about your potential attendee over and above their specific event profile. In so doing, you may decide that it would be better to relocate your events to a different city altogether. You might choose a location that is known for its food culture, vibrancy, or Bohemian nature, such as Portland, OR.
- Networking. Next, talk with the local convention and visitor’s bureau or other business support network in the town or city. See if they can give you some introductions to local leaders who could contribute to your event’s success. They may suggest an unusual venue that could meet your size requirements, so you can begin the negotiation process.
- Scheduling. You may have to be creative when it comes to scheduling. If you want to stage your event at a non-traditional venue, then you may have to work with their timing restrictions. If you’re bringing in scholars from a local university, then be aware of the end of term dates when they might not be around. Try to fit in with existing requirements that do not conflict with other obligations.
- Synchronizing. You will also have to convince your potential partners that your goals are aligned with theirs. This may be particularly important in environmentally conscious Portland, as you may need to work hard on your event’s carbon footprint. Ensure that your event objectives are clear and that they align with the goals and aspirations of your potential intellectual partners.
Worth the Effort
This may involve a lot of work at the planning stage, but it will be worthwhile. It may give your event an additional dimension and add a lot of color to your marketing mix. It may help you to move away from the predictable to the unusual – and enthuse your potential attendees.
Partners at Your Side
Of course, you will still need help when it comes to designing, planning, and executing and should work with an established pattern. eShow can take the strain while you redesign your package and bring a support package to help you manage the entire ecosystem of your event. Talk with eShow today to request a demo.