What Attendees Really Want

February 7, 2016

The availability or absence of smart search and planning features on the event website can make or break an attendee’s emotional engagement with that event.

Recently, recognizing that multichannel digital marketing is essential to reach an attendee audience, Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) organized a detailed research on the use of technology at each step of the attendee journey. The  report, available as the CEIR Digital ToolKit, documented attendee use and satisfaction with organizer digital offerings, as well as at what organizers found was used extensively and what they thought attendees valued most.

GAPS IDENTIFIED BY ATTENDEES

This research reveals the high importance of an exhibition’s website, both for convincing a prospect to attend as well as to support the attendee’s pre-event planning. It revealed a number of pre-show planning tools that attendees identified as important to them but missing or insufficient (when available) on the exhibition website.

The following features had the most misalignment between attendee needs and organizer offerings:

1.       Show me product that may be of interest based on my preferences – 64% of the attendees identified this feature as important or very important, while also indicating their satisfaction levels as low or very low. 52% of the show organizers anticipated high or very high use, and 38% did not offer this feature to attendees.
 

2.       Request/set up meetings with exhibitors – 60% attendees marked this feature as very important or important, while also indicating their satisfaction levels as low or very low. 38% of the show organizers anticipated high or very high use, and 37% did not offer this feature to attendees.
 

3.       Searchable attendee directory to see who is going – 57% attendees marked this feature as very important or important, while also indicating their satisfaction levels as low or very low. 72% of the show organizers anticipated high or very high use, and 49% did not offer this feature to attendees.
 

4.       Searchable attendee directory to connect with colleagues – 57% of the attendees identified this feature as very important or important, while also indicating their satisfaction levels as low or very low. 56% of the show organizers anticipated high or very high use, and 48% did not offer this feature to attendees.

Clearly, today’s attendees look for tools that enable them to easily search for information, evaluate their options in a quick and easy way, and make new connections faster than ever before. Unfortunately, many event websites and mobile apps continue to offer minimal information and networking tools, leading to high dissatisfaction levels amongst attendees. With the wide availability of viable technology solutions and economical multimedia devices, this is an area that can be and should be immediately addressed. Face-to-face interactions need to be bolstered and supported with smart technology in the planning phase for improving the satisfaction and engagement levels for the attendees.
 
The full report can be downloaded here: http://www.ceir.org/products/2640.
 

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