Think about the last time you heard about an interesting event you wanted to attend. What was the first thing you did? If you’re like most event attendees today, you either typed the name of the event into a search engine, or you went straight to the event’s website.
What this tells us is that your customers’ event experience starts long before the event itself, and it most likely starts online. Attendees visit an event’s website to get information about dates, times, speakers, activities, entertainment, sponsors, exhibitors, other attendees, and on and on.
A well designed event website does more than just share event specifics; it acts as a sales tool, attendee and exhibitor networking arena, and resource center to keep attendees informed before, during, and after the event.
In the past, promoting an event online meant adding it to your website’s calendar and maybe offering online registration. Today more and more conference and exhibition organizers are extending their event’s brand by offering a well-designed event specific website with a suite of tools and resources to keep all their audiences informed and engaged, resulting in a better experience that keeps them coming back year after year.
Making valuable connections before the event.
Some organizers promote buzz about their event by creating networking areas for attendees and exhibitors to connect before the event. Attendees can see who else is attending and start industry related conversations with their peers. Exhibitors can provide details about their company, products, and services. Some event organizers provide online scheduling to allow attendees and exhibitors to arrange meeting times for in depth discussions about their needs. Having these features on your website is likely to increase exhibitor’s sales which means more repeat exhibitors the following year.
Allowing better engagement at the event.
During the event, one of the most useful resources for attendees is an up-to-date listing of sessions with times, location, and speaker information. Including information about the session speaker allows attendees to easily find their favorite speakers. It also allows the speaker to cross-promote their session on their own professional website or in social media.
Having other sites with links back to your event webpage is an effective way to increase your website’s search engine optimization, therefore, creating these partnerships with the speakers benefits both parties.
Offering value after the event.
If your event offers Continuing Education Credits, another extremely useful online tool is the ability to print the CE certificate. Conference organizers with a large number of attendees have reduced their workload by making the attendee’s CE certificate available online.
For instance, the Western Veterinary Conference allows attendees to login and print their CE certificate after attending the appropriate sessions. Once the attendee has logged in, the website connects to their Ungerboeck event management database to find the information for generating the certificate, validates that the attendee is allowed to receive the CE certificate, and determines the number of continuing education units the attendee earned.
By providing more online resources for event attendees, your customers will be more engaged in the event, more likely to return, and more likely to bring others with them next year.