Fill Those Seats! 9 Tools to Maximize Your Event Attendance

JULY 2017

Nothing is more discouraging than spending countless hours (and dollars) planning an event only to see a meager turnout. Consider these pro tips for filling the seats and maximizing attendance on any size meeting or event.

Seek ideas and input upfront (and feedback afterwards). The most successful events plan around what your target audience wants (and doesn't want). Before you solidify your plans, reach out to prospective attendees (or a sample set), and if you have a list, email them a short survey. After the event, follow-up with your client and/or attendees for feedback on how to improve the event the next time around.

Choose a convenient location that is both memorable and affordable. Destinations or venues that are too far away or too expensive spell disaster for your event attendance. To ensure maximum turnout, select a location that is convenient for the majority of attendees - making sure it's distinctive enough to set your event apart and yet not so costly that it drives up the per-attendee price. For example, Dallas, TX is a stress-free 3.5-hour flight from nearly anywhere in the U.S. Dallas also offers unsurpassed quality and savings on room rates, maximum affordability and utterly unique and unforgettable experiences.

Send out Save-the-Dates early. Competing priorities and jam-packed schedules are the biggest threat to attendance. Even if all of your details aren't nailed down, save-the-dates are a great way to connect and get on people's calendars as soon as possible.

Simplify the registration and RSVP process. If you are using online registration, ensure your forms are easy to read and simple to complete. Minimize the number of fields, enable multiple registrations, and consider a bundled pricing for companies who are sending big teams.

Offer incentives for early registrations or arrivals. Early-bird discounts are a great tool for priming early registrations for many business-related events. You should also consider gifts, discount coupons or other value-adds to those who sign up early. Also, try extending your early-bird registration at the last minute to give your bargain-hunters (and procrastinators) a second chance.

Lock your schedule/agenda early and communicate it clearly. The clearer and more detailed you are about your agenda, the more people will feel they can make an informed decision about attending. Make sure you include clear, compelling details on your agenda in all of your communications.

Build extracurricular fun into the agenda. Any event that is longer than two hours needs breaks or down time built into the schedule, and multi-day events should have some extracurricular fun time.  Also, many attendees like to turn conferences and meetings into family and leisure trips, so keep this in mind when proposing entertainment and dining options to your attendees. VisitDallas has a robust planning tool that provides amazing ideas on fun things to do in and around Dallas.  From art and sports to music and culinary – Dallas has something for everyone!

Convey multiple value propositions in your promotional plan.  Just one benefit isn't enough for most people to attend your event. You should include in your invitations, emails and marketing materials (including Web site) the valuable take-aways of the event (e.g., what attendees will learn); keynote speakers and/or entertainment; the schedule/agenda; photos and testimonials of past events; people/companies that attended past events; and any other relevant benefits.

Encourage attendees and speakers to help promote your event. Empower your attendees and participants to spread the word! Make it easy for them to reach out to their friends and peers via email and social media. Offer discounts for bringing friends. Encourage your speakers and event participants to promote the event to their networks.  Make referral marketing work for you!

VisitDallas is here to ensure that your next event delivers maximum attendance!  For more information on planning your event in Dallas, TX, visit www.DallasDelivers.com or call our planning partners at 800-232-5527.  We look forward to hearing from you!