Since 1956 the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) has been dedicated to driving global economic and social transformation through business events. This year, at their annual event, PCMA Convening Leaders 2018, they cranked up the volume in the Music City. There is no denying this was an epic year! So many things added to its success, from the vibrant location of Nashville, to the music, speakers, networking events and noteworthy content. This conference focused on the engagement factor of events, the most critical piece of connecting your audience despite the challenges we face today, with digital distractions and increased attendee expectations.
This successful event was experienced firsthand by our very own Mae Ibe, CMP, Director of Conferences & Tradeshows earlier this month. These are Mae’s Top 5 from PCMA Convening Leaders 2018.
1. Steaming Live Content – PCMA implemented streaming content, live and on demand, from the event. A continuing trend to get involvement from your members who cannot attend. Studies show that streaming this content does not discourage face-to-face attendance. Keep your whole membership engaged by providing conference content.
2. The Attendee Journey – The attendee journey is the newest way to capture your attendees’ movement throughout the event. Newest technology does not use Bluetooth, so attendees do not need a cell phone or Bluetooth device to gather the data. Track CE credits, collect data that will help you plan future meal counts, and keep abreast of the most popular breakouts so you know what your attendee is finding beneficial.
3. Strategizing Your Room Block – Studies show 1 out of 3 rooms are outside the room block. Are you strategizing your room block based on your location? If you are a big fish in a small pond, you can be aggressive on your room block. If you are a small fish in a big pond, you may want to be a little more conservative since your attendees have more options. Think about the leisure destinations and how that will affect your pre and post nights. Educate your attendees on why they need to stay in the room block; financial benefit for the organization, safety and security, future data, etc. Plan a different experience for those who book in the room block. Work with the local CVB to determine the economic impact of your event.
4. Attendee Acquisition – Instead of competing with other organizations for attendance, you are now competing with the “no event.” You need to make sure your attendees see your event as the must-attend event. Have you taken the customer journey into consideration? Does the customer know who you are? Your marketing message may not be describing your event and/or organization the way you think. Remind them throughout the year who you are, not just in the months or weeks leading up to the event. Your attendees must have an emotional connection or they won’t be engaged and want to attend year after year.
5. Video Testimonials – video testimonials are still a great way to connect with your attendees, but use trailers instead of long drawn out messages.
In addition to these top 5 takeaways there were two noteworthy areas of discussion one digital and one in person. M&IW experienced a substantial increase in social media responses based on posts from this event. Using the #PCMACL hashtag helped connect attendees, read tidbits of sessions that were not attended first hand, and pick up tips on new trends whether onsite or just following the online discussion. The #EventBoss initiative was also a huge hit! Great job on getting the word out socially PCMA. It greatly enhanced engagement and the overall experience.
Finally, innovation was a BIG discussion item. How do we innovate? What qualities do you need in employees to encourage innovation? It is predicted that 1 in 3 companies won’t be around in 5 years. You must be innovative and embrace change, so you are not one of the statistics. Attending leading industry conferences and live events is definitely one way to stay plugged in and discover new insights.