Keep Attendees Coming Back with The Right First Welcoming
Sometimes you are on a bus where you are sitting by yourself on the way to an AGM and it is your first time attending a conference. You are all excited about it and hoping to meet other fellow members. But while overhearing the conversation on the bus you find that many people have already spent a day together. You would feel like having missed out and this doesn’t help your confidence level. In all probability, other first-time attendees are feeling the same anxiety. Keep in mind these first-time attendees will not come back unless you can make them feel welcome at the event. Here are some tips.
Prepare these first-time attendees for the event
Prepare the first-time attendees for the event before they arrive at the venue. Collect all the resources in a single place on the site. The returning attendees will find these pages to be useful. Never assume that everybody is aware of the fundamentals of survival in a conference or event networking. You can collect tips from the regular attendees regarding everything from networking to session selection, having interpreting booths, to gathering notes. You can later email this tip sheet to your first-time attendees. Post this later on the event site and other social platforms.
You can create a discussion group for the online community that is specific to first-time attendees. You can answer the questions by asking the volunteers to moderate. You can use blog posts on your website to provide tips for the first-timers. People have all kinds of preferences for receiving info. Many people will read the blog posts however, others may prefer videos. You can have live webinars to introduce the first-time attendees to the fundamentals of the event.
Develop a welcoming experience
The first-time impressions in most cases are the lasting impressions. Never allow the newbies to the event to stand alone. Ensure that they are feeling welcome from the beginning. You can use new member or first-timer badges in colored badge holders or even consider attaching a distinctive ribbon to their badges. You may use surprise to make the first-timers happy and give them a gift card for a cafe next door. Ask the veteran participants to work as ambassadors for the newbies. Check the possibility of hosting a sponsored exclusive breakfast for these newbies.
You may consider setting aside a sponsored and special gathering area where these first-time attendees could get to know each other. They could enjoy beverages, snacks, and each other's company. Check the possibility of providing event orientation tours. Have some VIP seats in the front rows reserved for the newbies if space permits. These could be at the table of board members or ambassadors at the time of lunch or breakfast. Rather than just scheduling the open networking time, it is recommended that you have a structured networking time for guided discussions. Open discussions are awkward for the new members. Friends gravitate with each other leaving the newer members feeling as if they are the only ones in the room that do not know anyone.
Follow up with the newbies after the event
Many times, after the event you can get in touch with the newbies to find out what they felt about their overall experience. Ask for the possibility of more engagement depending on what you are aware of about their interests and requirements. You can ask your event buddies to get in touch with the charges. Suggest various questions to them and the conversation is likely to be more personal as they have spent the requisite time with one another.
When you are making an effort to develop a helpful and welcoming experience for these first-time attendees, there is every chance that you will get to see them at the next event you are organizing. You can take help from some online tools for this. They can help you in planning an ultimate conference or a trade show. Keep in mind that although many people do not have any issues in strolling into a room that is full of strangers to make the most of the event. However, several people are not as seasoned or extroverted. Most of them are first-time attendees and you need to make them feel welcome.