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Optimizing the Customer Journey: better convention and trade fair experiences

Whether congress, trade fair or concert, in the end the success of your event is related to the satisfaction of attendees. Satisfied customers are an important component for your sales and growth. Customer needs are crucial as customer satisfaction and customer loyalty, and the related revenue these attitudes generate, are the foundation of organizational success.

However, we encounter the expectations and demands of customers beyond face to face interactions at the event. Every touchpoint the customer has with the event is full of expectation – from the first introduction to a brand before or during the event, through to ongoing interactions after the event has finished. The sum of all touchpoints is the “customer journey”. To optimize the customer journey, it pays to take a closer look at individual customer segments, their motivations and goals.

Participants, exhibitors, organizers - a new generation of customers

At events there are different types of customers usually. The attendee is a customer of the organizer and, at the same time, a customer of the venue. In a recently published blog post Matthias Schultze, Managing Director of the GCB, deals with the so-called Delegate Journey: whether at the train station, in the hotel or on the way to the conference - the attendee meets different people and spends time in different places. Their level of satisfaction is influenced by many small points of contact. Each of these points influences the delegate’s overall evaluation of the event. The event experience is a result of interactions with other attendees, exhibitors and suppliers on site as well as the technology used before, during and after the event.

Exhibitors contribute to the success of an event and generate revenue for the organizer and venue. By participating in a conference or trade show, the exhibitor aims to achieve goals like increased visibility and attracting new customers. Their investment in the event should yield a return for them, and the process of booking the stand and planning the layout should be as simple as possible. Behind the scenes, the exhibitor - just like the attendee - is often a customer of the both the organizer and the event venue. For exhibitors, the variety of touchpoints with the event suppliers (organizer or venue), whether personal or digital, have an effect on their event experience. The Whitepaper "Mastering the Exhibition Journey” deals with the Exhibitor Journey, the Buyer Personas and their particular requirements in more detail.

Furthermore, from a venue’s point of view, the event organizer needs to be regarded as a customer as well. Their goal among others is to organize a successful event. Looking for and finding the right venue, managing quotes and room inquiries or the planning and execution – there are countless points of contact between the venue and the organizer. Again, it is worth considering how the event organizer’s customer journey can be improved.

Although all three groups have different motivations and goals, they each expect a consistent customer journey, a good user experience, and transparency. Benefits and objectives of events have changed over time. This is due to changed communication habits and changed information habits. It is the experience that leaves a lasting impression and dictates the success or failure of an event. The new generations (Gen Y and Z) demand

  • More flexibility and speed
  • Self-service and personalization
  • A special experience
  • Authenticity
  • Meaningfulness and innovation

The digitization of the customer journey

What does this mean for the design of the customer's individual points of contact along the customer journey? Why are digital solutions helping to improve the Customer Journey? Thanks to a range of digital platforms, we have never had as much information about our customers. Today accurate and easy tracking, a detailed picture of our customers, as well as automation and personalization are all possible due to technology. In addition, digital technology allows us to meet the expectations of generation Y and Z.

A digital solution does not always have to be the optimal solution for each and every touchpoint of the customer journey. The real challenge is how value can be created for the customer. It is about using technology in such a way that the customer has an uncomplicated but positively memorable visitor experience because of their usage of different digital solutions.

In his blog Michael Heipel writes: "It is not enough to meet the expectations of the target audience. This may satisfy our customers - but we can only captivate them if we delight them, if unexpected things happen and we initiate positive emotional reactions." The different touchpoints, the different solutions must be perceived as coherent and consistent. They must fit into the spirit of the brand promise and into the relevant context.

Which digital solutions are the right ones?

There is currently a vast array of digital solutions for events. Kathrin Schmidt sums up some of the key attributes that contemporary digital solutions should include:

  • Simplicity, accessibility and speed
  • Enable seamless integration between platforms and use APIs
  • Smooth and secure functionality
  • High quality innovations, not high-tech solutions that look good but offer little in terms of performance

Through technology and digitalization, companies can gain competitive advantage, and ultimately this is what distinguishes successful organizations from the less successful ones. As part of ibtm in Barcelona, I'm looking forward to exploring the Organizer and Delegate Journey further and to discussing solutions and case studies with you.