How to Increase Member Attendance for Your Association’s Conferences

Empty member conference board room

Get Association Attendees to Your Next Conference

Kalahari Meetings recently published a blog post titled, “Six Tips to Get Association Attendees to Your Next Conference.” Their opening statistic attributed to Associations Now states the largest association meeting only attracts a third of its members. That can be a bit shocking when you realize 67% of your members are missing out on your meeting efforts.

Listed below are the six tips Kalahari Meetings has established for associations to help increase their member attendance for events. At the bottom of each tip’s section, check out even more ways you can help increase attendance with The Event App for Associations Effect.

Before the Conference

Acting before the conference is vital. Your conference details should be shared as frequently as possible with an outlined purpose for attendees. Your members will attend your events only if you provide them the right incentives to do so.

Crowdsource Content

Defined, Crowdsourcing is the process of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, typically an online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers. This concept can be applied to event content in the sense of crowdsourcing presentation content from your members.

As stated in the blog post, “The more the attendee feels they can shape the conference agenda, the more likely they will attend the conference.” Members know what they expect from a conference, so why not let them be the presenters? Host a speaker competition and select the most popular candidates to present at the big event. Associations also have the option to ask for member feedback regarding desired presenters and topics of discussion. This approach will still give them a say and the feeling that they’re contributing to the success of the event without having to rely on their public speaking skills.

The Event App for Associations Effect: Prior to the event, share event updates and secrets via app alerts to build excitement. Suggest attendees share the news with others – sharing is easy from a smartphone. Allow your attendees to vote on the most popular presenter in the app prior to the event. Announce the winner via the app and via social channels directly from the event management mobile app.

Icepop GeneratorOffer a One-of-a-Kind Experience

Although your attendees will be spending most of their time at the conference, there are still periods where he or she will have to rely on either the venue or nearby locations for food, fun, etc. Hosting your conference at an intriguing venue or location can help increase attendance.

If you have chosen your venue, research places attendees can visit in the local area. Or as suggested by Event Manager Blog, provide unique techy ways to engage your attendees, like personal edible treats or digital caricaturists. By offering a wide variety of activities, you’re bound to grab more attention of your members. For our closing thought, “Whatever you do, try to stand out from other association meetings.”

The Event App for Associations Effect: Use the event management mobile app to host a scavenger hunt or photo contest with enticing prizes for members, like discounted membership fees, to get members eager to attendee. Include exhibitors in the fun by making their booth a competition requirement. Select unique event/ association app features that will help work toward your conference objectives.

Create Pre-Conference Buzz

It’s incredibly important to spread awareness about your conference well before it starts. Your association can post conference information through a number of channels, including print publications, associated websites, and social media. Highlight top moments from last year’s conference by sharing previous photos and videos.

Take it a step further and include your exhibitors and speakers in the buzz. Ask them to share conference details and their offerings for the conference to grab attention. The more communications you have going before the conference, the more likely your members will take notice and find something that appeals to them. “Whatever it is, try different mediums and messaging to include and pique interest about your conference.”

The Event App for Associations Effect: Post all pre-conference communications to the event app. Encourage registered attendee networking through an in-app chatroom- ask what they’re looking forward to most, who they plan to attend with, etc. Have speakers upload any session materials to through the event management mobile app for attendees to get prepared.

At the Conference

Now that the conference has begun, you may think you’ve done all that you can do to get attendees attention. However, what you do during (and even after) the conference can define your attendee’s experience and help determine future attendance.

Bring the Locals into Play

This takes the one-of-a-kind experience event further. When traveling to a new destination for a conference, attendees have a desire to experience the local area. Associations can try to incorporate the area’s culture into the conference experience by inviting local businesses to exhibit at the conference, offering local food at the venue, and scheduling break sessions at local parks or establishments. You could also ask local companies to send coupons or similar incentives to your members who plan to attend.

The Event App for Associations Effect: Use push notifications from the event management mobile app to offer local vendor discount coupons. Feature your local vendors in the app for additional exposure to entice them to get involved. Provide local area suggestions (or even a map) for attendees to easily see nearby places to visit.

Bean bag chairsPlay with the Room Setup

Consider shaking things up in regards to room layouts. Finding yourself in the same meeting room setup can make attendees feel bored and uncreative. Remove the tables and create welcoming environments with couches and chairs facing each other to encourage engagement. If tables are needed for certain sessions, use these settings for the break rooms.

As one LinkedIn article suggested, taking away the table in a room can do a lot of good for a conference. More room in a meeting will allow for better conversation flow, get people moving around, and create the feeling that everyone is on an equal level.

The Event App for Associations Effect: Exploiting the app’s features can help create exciting environments and encourage engagement. Incorporate audience polling to show real-time, honest feedback. Set up QR codes in the venue for members to scan for additional info on sessions. Having an open break for networking allows attendees to easily exchange contact information through their smartphones.

After the Conference

Once the conference ends, the time to start measuring the success of the conference begins. This can be done through a number of analytical measures. But what about the success of the conference in terms of your attendees?  Just ask them!

Make Sure to Ask for Feedback

How can you know exactly what your members want without asking? As stated by Kalahari Meetings, “Without a doubt your members have opinions about your conference – from the meeting room temperature to your speaker selection.” Send out post-conference surveys asking attendees to evaluate the conference. Ask for information related to their experience and expectations such as opinions on the content presented, what overall message was received, and suggestions for upcoming events. Hearing what your members have to say can be extremely valuable. It will help you improve future events and in turn, make your members feel appreciated you took their needs and wants into account

The Event App for Associations Effect: Incorporate evaluations into the event management mobile app. Push notifications to attendees’ mobile devices via the app to remind them about the surveys and the importance behind them. Audience polling results could also be used as a way to gather valuable feedback.

ConferenceBeat on iPhoneConclusions

Although member attendance rates are relatively low, these tips can help your association bridge the gap. First, you need to give your members a reason to attend. This can be down through crowdsourced content for the conference, hosting at a unique location, and by generating awareness through pre-conference buzz. Providing an event app will give attendees a one-in-all channel for pre-conference info.

Once the conference begins, your efforts are no longer revolved around getting attendees but rather meeting their needs. You can do this by creating a memorable experience. Incorporating local businesses and changing up the layout of meeting rooms can help accomplish this. Utilizing the exclusive capabilities of an event app will only impress your attendees more.

Once the conference is over, be sure to get feedback from your event goers. This is crucial in understanding your member needs and working toward improving your conferences in the future. Hosting an evaluation in an event app will give members an easy and convenient way to respond.

Want more event app tips? Download our Mobile Event App Best Practices whitepaper now!