Events have been somewhat sidelined over the past two years as companies adjust to an environment affected by the pandemic. As the situation evolves and events inevitably return to pre-pandemic frequency and attendance, there’s an opportunity for companies to reset their events strategies.
Getting attendees out of their offices will likely require an event that not only provides value but offers a unique experience that’s worth the investment of time. A slideshow in a conference room won’t have the kind of draw that makes it worthwhile — both for the host and the attendees. That’s why experiential events are capturing more attention.
“People don’t want to just go to the store and buy chocolate. They want the golden ticket,” says Gregg Mervis, president and CEO of the Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau. “They want to get behind the scenes, touch, smell and taste. They want to interact and make a connection that’s both unique and exclusive.”
Smart Business spoke with Mervis about experiential events and how companies can leverage them to stand out among industry peers.
Why should a meeting planner develop an experiential event strategy?
Typical corporate events follow a standard approach. Attendees shuffle from the registration table to the bar and seating area, listen to a speaker, eat, network and leave. It’s a templated, often bland experience that fails to make much of a positive impression.
Experiential events, when done right, break that mold and do more to capture the emotions of current and potential clients. It’s an approach that’s likely to increase brand recall as well as provide a point of differentiation from all other events.
How can destination assets be leveraged to create a memorable event experience?
Showcasing all the unique assets that are in a company’s community through an experiential event can create the sense of exclusivity. That could be done, for example, with a VIP trip on a train that’s accompanied by a meal prepared by local chefs. This can create a buzz while piquing attendees’ curiosity, encouraging them to look deeper into the host’s primary offerings.
This level of attention by the host also shows their desire to further connect as well as their ability to identify and provide top-tier service that’s distinct among industry peers. And by using destinations that are distinct, it displays the host’s knowledge of their community, the connections that they’re able to make, and illustrates a deeper community investment.
Why is there a direct correlation between elevating events and growing revenue?
A memorable event, by extension, showcases a high benchmark of service the host can provide with its core products or services. It highlights the thought leadership of its staff as well as their ability to execute in a way that is distinct from others who, through more typical event experiences, attempt but fail to make an impression.
A company that can put on an exceptional event shows customers how it’s able to deliver exceptionally on their core business — whether that’s making the best widget, providing the best oil change or guiding them to the best investment. It’s also a direct representation of how customers should expect to be treated in every other aspect of the professional relationship. The company’s staff is seen as smart, personable and accommodating, something that could give the client the confidence to explore other opportunities with the company.
Distinct, elevated experiences that highlight unique and exclusive community resources are more likely to draw people in than standard events. They give the host the chance to connect more deeply with attendees, showcase products and services to a more receptive audience, and help the company stand out at a time when many industries are facing myriad disruptions that have led to long-held customers potentially being up for grabs. Creating an experiential event, with the right strategy, will give people a memory that will distinguish the host from the competition. ●
INSIGHTS Events is brought to you by Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau