Featured Article from Conferencing

How to Connect With Conference Attendees Both Near and Far

September 19, 2016

Planning and hosting a conference for your company isn’t cheap or easy. That’s why it’s so frustrating when people don’t RSVP or show up for an event. However, thanks to a number of powerful tools and technologies, you can appeal to attendees both in-person and online.

Ways to Increase In-Person Attendance

In-person attendance is always preferred, so that’s what we’ll start with. Here are three of the best ways to get seats filled for your big conference.

Involve Attendees in Planning

Getting attendees involved in the planning process is an effective way to ensure they get what they want out of the conference. Furthermore, it plays a role in encouraging attendance by giving them ownership over program creation. This increases excitement and makes them feel like they’ll get something out of it.

Make it Worthwhile

If people are going to show up to your conference, they need to see value in more than the keynote speakers. They need to know they can get something by coming in person, as opposed to watching online. Show attendees that the conference is worth attending by promoting valuable networking opportunities and some fun events and entertainment options outside of the structured time. 

Make Attendance Convenient

One of the most important things you can do is make attendance convenient by nailing down logistics like location, travel and accommodations.

“The best way to drive away attendees is to choose a venue that is too far away or too expensive for them,” entrepreneur Jeff Kear notes. “So find a location convenient for a majority of your attendees and make sure it’s distinctive enough to set your event apart and yet not so costly that it drives up the per-attendee price too much.”

As for travel, if most of your attendees will be coming from the same place, consider providing corporate charter buses. This encourages higher in-person attendance, since people don’t have to worry about driving, parking and showing up alone.

If the conference is a multi-day event, accommodations are obviously a must. Make things easy on attendees by reserving rooms and getting group rates. Better yet, try to host the conference in the same building. Remember, convenience is paramount.

Ways to Connect With Remote Attendees

While in-person attendance is preferred, the good news is that new technologies and tools have made it possible for people to consume conference content, regardless of where they are.

Here are a few tips for connecting with them remotely:

Live Stream Sessions

“The number of people who can attend a presentation or a conference are limited due to the expenses associated with travel, as well as the challenges of going out of town and being away from the office and home,” presentation training expert Leslie Balknap says. “However, presenters and conference coordinators can bypass these challenges and reach a remote audience with a live stream.”

Live streaming technology has really become popular the past few months. Not only are there professional corporate options specifically designed for conferences and large events, but the growth of social sharing platforms like Periscope and Facebook Live have emerged as convenient and cost-effective alternatives.

Record and Share

If live streaming isn’t something you’re comfortable with – or you don’t feel like it would be worth your time – you can always record using a traditional video setup and then publish and share later. Another advantage of recording and sharing is that you can extend your reach by attracting other users online and capturing additional leads. 

Promote Online

If you’re going to live stream or record and share your conference, then you should invest some time into online promotion in the days leading up to the event. This ensures all your effort to connect with remote attendees isn’t a waste. It takes a lot of extra effort and logistical planning to set up video equipment and broadcast footage. Do yourself a favor and heavily promote this option (but be careful not to cannibalize your in-person attendance).

Encourage Higher Attendance With More Flexibility

In order to maximize conference attendance, you must be willing to accept a certain level of flexibility. Physically getting people in seats is obviously the first priority, but a willingness to meet remote attendees where they are can help you reach more people.

Consider trying some of these technologies and see what happens.

Edited by Alicia Young