In the age of social media, event attendees are seeking a shareable experience more than ever. Traditionally, events have been held in the usual designated areas - convention halls, conference centers, etc. However, more and more attendees are reporting that they are drawn to events that have an engaging atmosphere. This means new and unconventional event venues, a relaxed and casual environment that is geared towards networking, and an experience that can be shared on Facebook, Instagram, and most importantly, LinkedIn.
When planning your next event, put yourself in the shoes of a potential attendee - what kind of creative event planning might help grab their attention, and potentially galvanize them to RSVP to your event?
Stand out in the crowd
In a 2019 poll conducted by the International Association of Exhibitions and Events, 78% of event attendees reported that the destination of an event plays an important role in their decision to attend. As the event planning space continues to expand, more and more events are being offered each year, even for niche interests and industries. This means increased competition, and an even greater emphasis on creative event planning ideas.
Recognizing that unconventional event venues are key does not necessarily mean the location of the event has to be exotic - in many cases, this can actually make it more difficult to attend, and creates an easy opportunity for potential attendees to take it off of their list. Instead, it means gearing your thinking towards unique corporate event ideas and considering locations that may not be typical for events in your specific industry.
Create a shareable experience
A decade ago, the concept of social media influencers being pivotal in the long-term success of an event may have seemed far-fetched. However, it only becomes more clear with each passing year that for an event to gain any traction online, it needs to first gain a foothold with a significant audience on popular social media platforms.
When planning your event, it is certainly possible to strategize in such a way that you are able to get out in front of this - implementing branded hashtags, recruiting influencers, innovative event concepts, and setting up activations specifically geared towards increasing social sharing. However, some of the most engaging content online can come from images and videos shared by event attendees who are simply excited about the event and the experience that is being offered. Creative event planning will not be the sole factor in accomplishing this, but can be an important base upon which to build a memorable event.
Rethink your layout
Now, imagine the typical conference or convention setup. Rows of chairs, a podium for a speaker, several different rooms with this same layout, perhaps a few booths as well. Familiarity is good, but you do not want your attendees to feel that they are getting the same old song and dance at your event as at every other event being hosted within your particular industry. Experimenting with floor plans can be a great way to work towards keeping your event layout flexible - note what is working and what is not working, and where people tend to congregate.
An important part of picking an unconventional event venue for your event is that you, the event planner, are able to familiarize yourself with the venue and make changes in real time. Relying solely on the unconventional destination aspect of the event can lead to sacrifices when it comes to providing a memorable experience. Factoring in creative event planning ideas, such as experiential activations or flexible layouts, will make your event one to share.
Make your event feel essential
Circling back around to the IAEE statistic, while 78% of event attendees mentioned the importance of destination in their decision to attend an event, 30% actually named it as the deciding factor. If you have chosen an unconventional event venue, it is important that this is communicated in the event’s marketing materials. Social media marketing, as well as the overall growth of the event industry, has led to an increasing difficulty in making your brand voice heard. In such a crowded market, it can be hard to stand out without utilizing creative event planning ideas. With destination being such a key factor for so many potential event attendees, making it a cornerstone of your pre-event messaging on social platforms will help get more eyes on your content and, hopefully, more attendees through your door. Additionally, it’s important to remember that all attendees want to feel as if they are spending their time in the best and most efficient manner possible - this means ensuring that your event feels necessary to attend. Consider this when choosing the destination - the where can be just as essential as the how, what, and why.