TL;DR: Traditional in-person meetings remain fundamental to the industry, but attendees crave something more than just their label. They want to be engaged throughout the whole meeting experience and social media is the solution for filling the gaps.
Social media is changing many ways we do business. The meeting and conventions industry is no exception to that.
There’s a healthy fear of losing IRL attendees to a digital, or even social, experience. A mobile device gives any user the ability to livestream your event, which can either be great for exposure or detrimental to registration. With more and more “virtual passes” becoming available, planners are increasingly debating offering digital access for fear of not filling room blocks or the square footage of the large ballrooms. However, in a lot of cases, attendees aren’t as interested in the sessions as they are in the opportunity to network. Don’t discount the advantage of face-to-face interaction, even in a digitally-dominated business world.
In an age where it seems everyone is easily offended, it wouldn’t be surprising if “attendee” became an offensive term. Attending a meeting is so passive. Each person giving so much of their time to a meeting or convention hopes to be something more than just a tally on a guest list. Engaging with attendees through all touchpoints of the process with adequate recognition is the key to inclusion.
As a planner, how can you be a bigger asset to providing a balance of digital and in-person engagement? Consider social media the solution.
Think beyond the expectation of maintaining an active presence — share conference updates leading up to and during the conference. Also consider that the meeting destination is just as important as the speakers and sessions. Booking in an already-desirable location will undoubtedly be a huge benefit to attendance, but don’t stop there. Planners should promote the appeal of their meeting destination as heavily as they promote their agenda by partnering with the respective CVB.
At ASAE’s 2016 Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, ASAE and Visit Salt Lake teamed up with Sparkloft to develop a live-stream studio and a comprehensive broadcasting schedule around the conference’s agenda.
“The idea was, you can still be in your hotel room getting ready to go to the convention, and you can watch a five-minute livestream that gets you ready for the day and gets you pumped about [the meeting],” said Sparkloft CEO Martin Stoll.
Hosted by influential attendees, the 17 total broadcasts featured daily discussions on conference sessions and interviews with local Salt Lake advocates to encourage off site exploration. (Read more on PCMA’s blog).
Demand is high for a digital component that complements the traditional meeting experience. Keep attendees actively engaged through an integrated approach to social media through the entire process, from registration to feedback.
If you have questions on how to get your meeting to the next level using social media, we should chat. If you’re not sold by a virtual experience, read more about how VR might change the way we experience conference sessions sooner than you think.