Month: November 2017

3 Ways to Boost Attendee Engagement With a Mobile App

event app

Event mobile apps can sometimes seem to be at odds with boosting engagement. After all, they require users to be focused on their smartphones as they navigate an app’s functionality—hardly the picture of an engaged attendee, right?

Not so fast. Corporate event- or meeting-specific mobile apps—which, by the way, are increasingly becoming the norm, especially for high-profile events—can leverage connectivity, communication, collaboration and even gamification to not only help attendees plan for and navigate an event, but also stay engaged as the programming unfolds.

And as a bonus? That in-the-moment participation also becomes a treasure trove of data that event and meeting planners can use to refine their approach and deliver an even better experience the following year.

“Mobile apps are now a ‘must have’ for all events,” said Linda McNairy, Vice President, Global Operations and Shared Services, American Express Meetings & Events, in the 2018 American Express Global Meetings and Events Forecast. “Attendee engagement, both before, during and after the event, in addition to gamification are driving richer insights into attendee behaviors and allowing event organizers to make more informed decisions about their business.”

How can you use a mobile app to boost attendee engagement? Let’s take a look at three key tactics.

  1. Use push notifications to keep attendees in the loop

Communication is so critical during a meeting or event, especially if you’re hosting a large group of attendees. You want to be sure they know where they’re going and what sort of programming and special events are available. And that’s where push notifications come in.

Push notifications are handy—and effective—because they’re so visible. Think about when a push notification pops up on your smartphone screen—you immediately glance over to read it, right? As you plan your event or meeting, think about a few opportunities to use push notifications to keep attendees informed and prompt them to attend a special event like a keynote address, a collaborative breakout session or end-of-the-day entertainment.

One caution: use push notifications sparingly! If too many of them start to roll across an attendee’s smartphone screen, they’ll produce the opposite effect and the attendee will start to tune out the messages. Instead, pick 1-3 opportunities for push notification messaging that you can test during your next meeting or event. Then, based on the resulting participation and other data, you can continually refine your push notification strategy to be even more effective.

  1. Get instant feedback with surveys and polls

Everybody loves a post-conference survey, right? Attendees may roll their eyes at them, but surveys are so important in terms of gathering feedback, measuring an event or meeting’s efficacy and identifying opportunities for improvement.

Why not shake up your survey strategy and incorporate some short surveys and polls into your event’s mobile app? Not only will they feel a little more spontaneous, but attendees will also have a chance to respond while programming is still fresh in their minds.

You can also mix things up by throwing in a few polls. Try making them in-the-moment—a question that relates to a keynote presentation, for example. You could also use a poll to judge reactions to changes. Let’s say you host an annual event or meeting, and you’ve stuck to the same format for several years. This year, however, you decide to mix it up by changing venues, adding a different type of a session, or adopting a more informal, unconference-style format. Offer a corresponding poll in your mobile app to see what attendees think of the change, then you can use that data to further improve your meeting or event strategy.

By offering in-the-moment opportunities to provide feedback, attendees not only have a chance to chime in about what’s happening around them, but they’ll also feel more like valued stakeholders. That’s one of the most important results of attendee engagement, and it also makes it more likely that attendees will continue to prioritize your meeting or event.

  1. Encourage sharing with social integration

Sharing and broadcasting what’s happening during a corporate meeting or event has become an integral part of the attendee experience. (After all, if you’re not tweeting or Instagramming about something, is it really even happening?!) To help make it easier for your attendees to share and talk about what’s happening around them, make sure your app is equipped with social media integration so that they can quickly and seamlessly connect to and share with their preferred channels.

It also helps to provide attendees with key social media-related information, including relevant hashtags and user or company profile names, so that you can ensure more consistent messaging across disparate profiles and networks.

The easier you make it for attendees to share information, the more likely they are to do it. And that’s the sort of engagement that not only keeps your attendees invested in what’s happening around them; it also helps spread awareness of your event or meeting, which helps with brand building and even increased attendance.

Of course, it also helps to include an unforgettable experience as part of your event or meeting programming. Not only will attendees clamor to share the excitement, but they’ll help cultivate a serious case of envy among those who missed out. You can be sure they won’t make the same mistake the next time!

Meeting and event mobile apps definitely aren’t going there. In fact, respondents in American Express’s 2018 Global Meetings and Events Forecast predict app usage will increase in 2018. Now’s an ideal time to examine what a mobile app could do for your next meeting or event. And if you need help planning and building a mobile app—or incorporating an existing app into your meeting and event strategy—we’re up for the challenge.

5 Ideas for Unexpected Meeting Venues

venue

Where’s the coolest venue you’ve hosted or attended a meeting? In the past, non-traditional meeting venues were few and far between, while planners instead opted for more common choices like hotel ballrooms and conference rooms or convention centers.

Yet the demand for creative, unexpected meeting venues is on the rise, thanks to a number of factors. Chief among them? Delivering an unforgettable attendee experience.

“Many see the need to match non-traditional meeting spaces with increasing client demand for unique venues as a particularly exciting development moving forward,” according to the 2018 Global Meetings and Events Forecast, produced by American Express. “One [meeting planner] explains, ‘As a meeting planner, it’s exciting—finding creative solutions for clients and keeping on top of the variety of venues. It’s not just hotels that are available anymore. It’s anything you could turn into a space that could house a meeting.”

Depending on your meeting or event specifics, you might very well need to stick with larger spaces like convention halls. Yet if you have some flexibility in your planning, one of the most impactful ways to shake things up is to change your venue. Opting for a non-traditional meeting space doesn’t just make a big impact on attendee experience; it can also help support your company’s branding and messaging in a way that wasn’t previously possible at other venues.

So what exactly do we mean by non-traditional meeting venues? Let’s take a look at five ideas to get your planning started.

Coworking Spaces

Thanks to a steady increase in start-ups and small businesses, coworking spaces continue to be on the rise, too. Small Business Labs expects global coworking spaces to number nearly 15,000 this year, and hit over 26,000 in 2020. And that means it’s increasingly likely you’ll find a coworking space near you, or in your preferred host city.

Why move your meeting or event to a coworking space? Flexibility, for one thing. Many coworking spaces include a combination of open areas and closed conference rooms or offices, so you can easily transition your attendees to different parts of the building depending on the agenda.

Plus, a lot of coworking spaces are, well, pretty swank. They’ve either got that cool industrial vibe going on, or they’re sleek, modern and fully equipped—or even a mix of the two aesthetics. Yet no matter how eye-catching they are, coworking spaces are designed for work, which means your attendees don’t have to sacrifice productivity for selfie-worthy surroundings.

Art Galleries

No matter your industry or event type, it’s likely safe to say that you want your attendees to leave invigorated and inspired. What better way to spark those reactions than by hosting your event in an art gallery?

Just imagine a group of attendees sharing, learning and collaborating amid actual works of art. It’s a pretty incredible mental picture, right? (No pun intended!) Plus, galleries tend to be more open spaces, which means you’ll be more likely to host groups of varying sizes.

Pro tip? As you work with a gallery owner to secure the event space, make sure you’re familiar with any guidelines around photography or general interaction with the art. That way, you can educate your attendees and ensure a memorable (and respectful) experience.

Local Production Facilities—Wineries, Distilleries or Warehouses

Large, open spaces; a minimalist, industrial aesthetic; a way to support a local business or brand with your meeting or event—yep, there are several reasons to consider production facilities like distilleries, wineries or warehouses as a venue.

Coordination is, of course, key. You certainly don’t want attendees wandering around in the midst of a production line, and you want to ensure things like loud noise won’t adversely impact your event. But these production-oriented facilities can offer a refreshing change of pace for your next meeting or event.

For one thing, it won’t be hard to find large, open areas within the space so that your attendees have plenty of room to spread out. And, depending on the type of facility you pick, there might be an opportunity to include a tour, tasting or other behind-the-scenes peek as a coveted value-add to your agenda (social sharing encouraged!)

Rooftops

You know the age-old saying: you can’t control the weather! You may not want to turn your entire meeting or event over to the mercy of Mother Nature, but it’s worth exploring rooftop venues as an enviable, picturesque place to host a meeting, meal or networking happy hour.

After all, meetings and events are always better al fresco! In addition to giving your attendees access to unforgettable views and spaces that might not otherwise be open to the public, you’re also guaranteeing a share-worthy experience that your attendees can’t wait to document on their social media channels. Don’t forget to make sharing easier with widely publicized hashtags, relevant social media handles and other pertinent info!

Museums

Museums offer many of the same benefits as art galleries, yet introduce a wider array of space configurations and scenery. Plus, depending on where you’re hosting your meeting or event, there could be a neat opportunity to enhance your branding with a similarly categorized museum. One example? A technology conference in a science- or industrially themed museum. Or an innovation-centered discussion held in the midst of a contemporary art collection. See where we’re headed with this?

Depending on the museum’s layout, pricing and availability, you may be able to host different parts of your agenda in separate areas of the museum. Some museums, for example, have on-site restaurants that could be a relaxing spot for a post-event dinner or happy hour. Outdoor exhibitions like sculpture gardens provide the perfect spot for a rejuvenating mid-afternoon stroll. And museum auditoriums (or even planetariums) could be the perfect spot for large-group presentations.

We hope the non-traditional meeting venue inspiration is flowing! If we can help you source possible venues or event spaces, drop us a line anytime. And stay tuned to the blog, where we’ll be sharing more insight from the 2018 Global Meetings and Events Forecast in the coming weeks.

Tis the Season: 3 Ideas for Creative, Unexpected Corporate Gifts

gifts

The holiday season will be here before we know it. And with the festive decorations and celebrations comes an onslaught of corporate gifts. Of course, that poses the big question: what should you give your clients, vendors and partners?

Choosing thoughtful, memorable gifts isn’t easy. Let’s be honest—sometimes it feels like just another item on your to-do list, right? Yet putting some time and attention into your corporate gift selection is certainly worthwhile. After all, gifts aren’t just a way to say thanks. They’re also a way for you to make a lasting impression, a physical representation of the relationship and brand you’ve built. Just as you want to captivate imaginations and engage attendees at an annual corporate event, meeting or brand summit, you also want to produce similar reactions with a corporate gift—on a smaller scale, of course.

To help you get started, we’ve compiled three ideas for creative, unexpected corporate gifts. Read on for inspiration. And as an idea strikes you, do a bit of planning like you would for an event. Ask yourself what sort of reaction you want to spark, what you want the recipient to think about your brand when they open the gift, and how a gift might tie into your next year’s business strategy and your relationship with that particular recipient. That sort of purposeful gift-giving not only helps your brand stand out in a pile of popcorn tins and fruit baskets—it also helps deepen the connections that are so important to your business and its bottom line.

3 Ideas for Corporate Gifts that Make an Impact

Think Inside the Box

We love to encourage creative thinking, including stepping out of the box. But this holiday season, what if you think inside the box instead? Curated gift box subscriptions continue to be wildly popular, and you can apply that similar thinking to your own gift. Compile a branded gift box that speaks to your brand and its story. You could combine some logo-adorned swag like a notebook, pens or pencils and even a high-quality T-shirt or long-sleeved shirt with a few favorite locally made items from your company’s home city, for example. Gift boxes will be most impactful with a theme, so it’s helpful to start there. One idea could be a “prep for the new year” box. Pick a few productivity-focused tools and gifts and combine them with a bag of local coffee or tea, a mug and a personal note about getting ready to do big things in 2018. A relaxation/pampering gift box could be equally welcome and a signal to slow down and enjoy the time of year before gearing up for the new year. After all, rest and relaxation is always a welcome gift, right?

Showcase Your Skills

What products, services or skills does your business provide? And how can you incorporate those elements into a memorable holiday gift? Showcase a featured product, for example, or a product or service that was particularly instrumental to your company’s success this year. If you have an in-house creative team, collaborate with them to create some eye-catching, decorative packaging, or even additional gift elements like a framed print, a display-worthy desk calendar or a branded notebook. If your company offers a service, can you tie that in to a holiday gift? Offer free or discounted service, perhaps, paired with another item that reflects your brand and adds a personal touch to the gift. Or, you could offer gift certificates or credits to other services that connect to your brand and your recipient audience. Remember: useful doesn’t have to equal boring!

Get Your Employees Involved

Why not let your employees in on the gift-giving fun? If you feel stumped, consider crowdsourcing gift suggestions. We love this idea from Cole & Weber United, as highlighted by Entrepreneur. In 2012, the firm asked the staff to help design the holiday gift and turned the project into a contest. The winning idea: a log that was custom carved into a gift box to cradle a bottle of wine. You’ll want to factor in an appropriate timeline to get feedback and then create the gift, but if your schedule allows, this is a great way to get fresh, new ideas while also making your employees feel more invested in the process, especially if you opt to make the project a contest. A little friendly competition never hurts!

We hope these ideas helped spark your corporate gift inspiration! If you’re interested in more ideas or need help bringing your gift idea to life, we’re happy to help. Reach out to us and we’ll show you some neat corporate gifts we’ve created and curated, then discuss what we can do for you. And from our family to yours: happy holidays!