Are Attendee Experiences Completely Rooted In Psychology?
In the expansive world of technology and all of its applications, it can be difficult to truly determine what attendee experiences will make your event a fulfilling engagement. Sometimes this means thinking deeply about human psychology.
Attendees are pulled in multiple directions with technology. Technology does add value to events but don’t forget to think about the basics and what an attendee really needs out of an event. In a recent white paper from Freeman XP, the author creates parallels between Maslow’s Hierarchy and brand experiences. This got us thinking. Could transforming the Maslow Hierarchy also be applied to any event, conference, and meeting?
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Maslow’s Hierarchy is the theory that humans have many levels of needs, of which the lower levels must be satisfied before reaching the top. The hierarchy is a pyramid with the most basic needs on the bottom and the most sophisticated needs on the top. The levels of needs are as follows, respectively: Physiological, Safety, Love and Belonging, Esteem, and Self-actualization. Essentially, the theory states that in order to move up to the next level, all needs must be meet. What are these needs and how does this translate into meetings and events?
- Physiological Needs
The basis of the entire theory is our personal physiological needs. This is the easiest need to meet. Provide food, water, and restrooms. While these are givens, you must make sure that the meeting space that does not “assault” any basic senses; such as looking too crowded, odd or bad smells, and temperature that is not too hot or cold. Fulfilling these needs to satisfaction will influence attendees’ decision to either attend or not in the future.
- Safety Needs
Make sure that the venue or the event has the proper processes, policies, and emergency plans in place for personal safety. Give attendees clear and concise directions to and from the location. Attendees need to be able to find your location safely in order to show up, and be able to navigate the location with little trouble. Once in the space, attendees need to avoid feeling claustrophobic or cramped. Every event should have a service desk, or concierge, to help direct attendees where they need to go while also answering questions.
- Love and Belonging
Attendees need to feel like they fit in and that they are not alone in a large crowd. Attendees must feel like they have the ability to form friendships and build connections. This is a big deciding factor for whether attendees will return to the event in the future.
People want to be in a place where they are respected and can provide their point of view or opinions. Provide attendees with opportunities to go beyond networking and allow attendees to be a contributor. People need to feel independent, have self-respect, and reach achievements.
People need to have individual experiences, learning opportunities and experience different perspectives. People need to have the ability to take ideas that they can apply and change the way they live their lives or work habits. People need to be able to evolve in their work, lives, and sense of self.
The Freeman Hierarchy of Attendee Needs For Brand Experiences
While Maslow’s Hierarchy is implemented into nearly aspect of human interaction and motivation, Freeman XP, a brand experience agency, recently released a white paper translating the original Maslow’s hierarchy into the Hierarchy of Attendee Needs. It redefines the theory as it pertains to events and social interactions, each level of both hierarchies has parallel. It takes the same concepts and focuses on the event industry. There are 5 levels that are very similar to Maslow’s hierarchy.
The key to an attendee’s enjoyment is knowing where to go and how to get there. Attendees need to be guided through the entire event process from pre-event to post-event. Once an attendee feels guided through the process they become more confident and begin to engage even more so. Nobody wants to be lost or missing out on opportunities because they can’t find the locations. Social media and smartphone apps can help attendees find the guidance they need throughout the whole experience.
The value of the event is determined by the attendee and can differ from what the event organizer values. Determining what the attendees value can prove to be challenging, but value starts with entertaining and engaging content. Avoid offering the typical, passive type of conference and instead deliver the content in ways that are relevant and easily consumed.
As humans, there is a deeply rooted need to connect with others on a personal level. It doesn’t matter if we’re connecting with family, friends, loved ones, or colleagues. Attendees want a community experience, to feel involved and connected with everyone around them. Make sure to offer a wide range of networking opportunities to allow them to connect, share, learn, and become part of a community.
People desire respect and acknowledgment of their achievements, and the opportunity to share their knowledge. Attendees want an opportunity to engage in a community and get the deserved recognition and respect. Once this happen, attendees are more apt to have deeper, more meaningful experience.
People attend events and conferences to grow professionally. Attendees are eager to learn and take away knowledge and information that they can then apply to their work lives. This is the top of the Hierarchy of Attendee Needs and this is where your event either sticks in their memory or fades out. Connect to their emotions in order to make the event extremely memorable.
The Take Away
Using technology and social media, event and conference organizers have the ability to meet attendee needs more effectively and faster. By using the technology available to connect with attendees, and listen to their opinions and feedback, planners can better meet attendee needs and provide the value and experience they need to fully engage with the event. We can understand how people feel and whether or not they are engaged before, during, and after the event. Once you can listen and understand attendee needs, you will successfully capture their attention, engage them, and motivate them to action. If attendee needs are satisfied and their goals for the event have been reached, organizers will bill closer to their own event goals, ROI, and ROO.