No one likes to see a half empty room at any point during an event. It makes no difference that the room has been full for most of the day; it’s still a pain to see empty seats and even empty rows at the end of an event.
What “traditional” ways are there to stop your conference delegates leaving early?
I’ve seen a fair few posts on various forums asking what event planners can do to keep attendees until the very end of their event. Everyone is looking for the “silver bullet” However, if your event has this problem, it is likely you would need to do a few things. The traditional approach would be to do one, or more of the following things:
1. Incentivise attendees with content by putting the best content at the end of the day. Perhaps it’s your KEYNOTE / best speaker wrapping up the day.
2. Incentivise (can I say “bribe”?) your attendees with something like, having a prize draw for a competition with the prize going only to people who are there at the end of the day.
3. Have an additional extra after the event, like a social drinks reception.
4. Remove distractions by holding your event at a slightly remote venue. One reason you may have conference delegates leaving early, as the theory goes, is that there is too much else happening and your attendees have headed off to do other things. So perhaps, a venue just round the corner from Oxford Street isn’t the best idea!
5. Don’t hold your event on a Friday. I mean, the weekend is just round the corner, so who wouldn’t want to leave early!
If you are running a traditional style conference then doing some of the things I’ve suggested above would be a good idea. The list is a useful list to have ‘on call’ should your manager has some concerns, and an expectation that you have to come up with some suggestions.
If you have a fairly traditional style of event there is nothing wrong with focussing on any of these five options. They are all likely to increase the number (perhaps only slightly) of those who stay until the end of the day; but hey, every little helps.
So if your event/s suffer from the disappearing attendee, you can consider these traditional responses.
However the ideas above may be like flicking a pea at a charging rhino!
It is possible however that even if you make all of these changes, they will have very little impact on your numbers. So what then? Well perhaps it’s time to ask a searching questions: if attendees are STILL leaving early, is now the time to be less traditional in your response? It may be that tweaking around the edges won’t make much of a difference and a more holistic view of the event (the nuts and bolts of the whole thing) may be needed.
The good news is that there are dozens of things that an event planner can do to run more engaging and interesting conferences. At engaging and interesting conferences a higher percentage of attendees stay until the end. The key is to fully embraced an experiential approach, and use meeting design to run a less traditional style conference. By all means, do try the five suggestions above, however, if you don’t have the success demanded, then please do drop me a note.