Designing a meeting or event that “hits the mark” is never a matter of chance. It’s a matter of design. To ensure participant satisfaction, every aspect of an event should be customized including content, catering, themes, decor, music, and entertainment. Uncovering event participant preferences is an important part of the event design but it is often neglected. Often, this year’s design is based on what has been done in the past.
Keeping abreast of trends, discovering “what’s hot”, and monitoring demographic data will only take you so far. To identify the preferences of participants and the target market for specific events, it’s important to ask rather than assume you know what people want.
There are a number of tried and true methods for pinpointing the preferences of a specific group. They have proven effective in marketing research yet these approaches are under-utilized in event planning:
A guided discussion with participants from a specific demographic or target market. Focus groups are often used to collect qualitative data for designing marketing campaigns or product launches.
With Skype, GotoMeeting and other online tools, it’s easier than ever to assemble participants together for a focus group. Today, people can participate from the comfort of their homes.
Quick Tips for Using Focus Groups:
A short and targeted survey with a few questions can quickly uncover event participant preferences.
Quick Tips for Using Email Surveys:
With current levels of email overload, surveys sent via apps can often get through to your desired respondents more easily than emails.
Tips for Using App Surveys:
A 1 or 2 page profile completed by event participants can be of great value in tweaking event content and approaches. Include them in registration forms for conferences and send them via email to corporate event participants.
Quick Tips for Using Participant Profiles:
Through this informal process at the beginning of a conference or meeting, participants have an opportunity to identify their pressing concerns and shape the agenda. The mail value they provide is ensuring that content addresses the burning concerns of participants. Sometimes these can’t be anticipated. Think 9/11, Hurricane Sandy, the volcano in Iceland, ANY natural disaster, a major election, or the laptop ban. Emerging issues will be on the top of the minds of most participants.
Quick Tips for Using Unconference Sessions:
Remember, uncovering participant preferences is only effective is you actually use the information. To ensure that you can use the information that you gather:
Some of the participant preferences that it is important for event and meeting planners to uncover include:
Find out: What issues or topics you need to address for the conference or meeting to be perceived as delivering value by participants.
The methods that are used to deliver content are just as important as the content. Profiling the preferred learning styles of participants will help you deliver content in a way that is easy for participants to understand and digest.
Find out: If learning games enhance or undermine the credibility of speakers. If participants get restless after sitting and listening to speakers for more than 15 minutes. If participants prefer traditional or creative delivery methods.
You can get more information about Learning Styles here: Season to Taste: Catering to Diverse Learning Styles
Music isn’t just for breaks or entertainment. Pioneering research by Bulgarian scientist Georgi Lozanov uncovered the fact that it can enhance learning. BUT, some participants find background music distracting.
Find out: Which musical genres participants prefer (classical, jazz, rock ‘n roll, country and western, heavy metal, hip-hop, rap, electronic). If participants find background music enjoyable or distracting.
Find out: What type of entertainment and socials participants prefer (e.g. sporting events, dancing, dance performances, live bands, DJs, talent contests).
Find out: Provide a checklist and give participants the opportunity to identify allergies, food sensitivities (e.g. lactose-free, gluten-free), dietary restrictions (e.g. salt-free, low-carb), special meal requests (e.g. kosher, halal, vegetarian, vegan).
EventMobi was founded in 2010 with the simple mission of saving event planners time and money by replacing paper show guides with mobile apps. Today, EventMobi offers a full suite of seamlessly integrated event technology solutions reaching thousands of event professionals and millions of attendees in 72 countries. We support over 8,000 organizations from professional associations to Fortune 500 companies like Disney, McDonalds & LinkedIn. Started in Silicon Valley, headquartered in Toronto with offices in Berlin, and partners located throughout the globe, EventMobi is an international brand on a mission to change the way people engage at live events.
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