Jay Tokosch is the CEO of Core-Apps, a technology provider and mobile software company for the trade show and events industry.
The Importance of the Second-Year Event Quotient “2YQ”
Organizers are constantly looking for any edge to grow their shows. But those who plan and consider the Second-Year Quotient can experience a big difference – both to the bottom line and attendee satisfaction. “2YQ” can be strategic planning factor that is based on the likelihood first-time attendees will return to the same event in the future.
Driving return attendance is a hot button issue for event organizers and it has a lot to do with a
first-timer having a good experience. There are many ways to ensure first-timers have a good
experience and your event technology can be a major component of that success. But let’s first take a look at why it’s so important to consider the 2YQ in the planning stage.
Why is the Second-Year Quotient Important?
According to The 2016 Benchmark & Trends in Attendee Acquisition report, trade shows spend an estimated $300,000 on a wide range of marketing tactics to increase attendance. After all this time, money and resources, if you’re lucky you hit your net new attendance goal.
But if you can get attendees to come back to your event for a second year – improving your Second-Year Quotient – there’s an increased likelihood they’ll make your show part of their annual event calendar. And there are big benefits when repeat attendees come back year after year.
Event organizers should look to the business world for customer acquisition cost data and the value of returning business or in our case, repeat attendance:
The cost of acquiring a new customer is four to ten times more than retaining an existing one. If you boost your Second-Year Quotient, you’ll have to spend less on marketing. Data on customer acquisition costs supports this theory.
According to a Harvard Business School study, increasing retention rates by five percent typically increases profits by 25 to 95 percent.
With the potential for big payoffs, organizers should look to event technology as an important way to support a good first-year experience and thereby increase their Second-Year Quotient.
Here are five tips on how to best prepare an event technology strategy to achieve a positive 2YQ:
1. Match Your App Features with Your Event’s Persona
A key part of your Second-Year Quotient plan is aligning your event technology strategy with your event persona. What are your attendees’ characteristics? What’s most important to them during your event experience – education, seeing new products or networking?
This audience understanding will shape your event technology strategy. For example, a Pokemon Go-inspired technology activation that relies heavily on gamification doesn’t fit the typical event persona found at many medical shows.
2. Use the “First Timers” Feature in Your Event App
While you’re in the earliest event planning stages, take a moment to walk in a first-timer’s shoes. They’ve never been to your event before. There’s good chance they could easily be overwhelmed and intimidated figuring out how to make connections or navigate the show floor.
Ask yourself how first-timers can get the most out of your event by walking away with an experience worthy of a slot on their annual calendar. This mindset will not only shape your “First Timer” content but also may spark other areas in which this helpful content can be featured throughout your event app.
For example, popular “First Timer” content can include dedicated meet-ups, highlighting sessions geared to new attendees, first-timer incentives at local restaurants or activities to check out in free time.
3. Plan the Pre-Event Experience
Make it a priority to identify first-time attendees during the registration process so you can create a segmented group of newbies and address their unique needs.
Give them helpful and tailored tips, ideas and information well before they land on-site and you’re well on the way to having them form a positive impression of your event – and boosting their likelihood to return.
As one example, before they even leave for the show, remind first-time attendees to download your mobile event app. Explain how the app can be used to create a more relevant and personalized experience – especially if you’ve created a “First Timers” feature.
You can also make the pre-event experience more pleasant through special geo-fence event app alerts. These alerts contain anything from helpful information to agenda updates to safety and security notices.
4. Activate the Live Experience
Event technology plays an important role in supporting a positive first-time experience. According to The CEIR Attendee Retention Insights study, a whopping 98 percent of respondents say the ability to compare brands, talk to experts and learn about new products is a priority.
Create a good experience by including interactive floor plans and maps in your event app to make it easy to find exhibitors and get around the show floor. For example, attendees can simply select a vendor they’d like to visit or a session to attend, and the app will highlight the best path to get there.
Organizers can also create a custom audio tour for their event app that guides attendees through a curated experience.
Eighty-three percent of repeat attendees also say it’s important to “see, touch and interact with new products.” Use event technology to create a good first-year experience and make it easy for attendees to discover new products using a New Product Showcase. Use the show app to scan tags placed throughout the showcase displays. Attendees can receive detailed descriptions about new products, find the exhibitors who make them and how to learn more, all with a simple scan.
Another way you can give attendees a good first-time experience is by having them use their event app for a treasure hunt. Treasure hunts offer a fun and interactive way for your attendees to experience your show through the app. It also drives attendees to sponsor’s booths, which can increase show floor traffic, and drive exhibitor engagement.
And any first-time attendee experience isn’t complete without the ability to meet and mingle with new colleagues. Beyond simple first-time attendee badges, stickers and meet-ups, use in-app event technology networking to help attendees network with each other.
5. Use Event Data for Continuous Improvement
According to the Convention & Exhibition Management Technology Study from the Trade Show News Network, two-thirds of respondents named the “ability to use event data to improve attendance marketing and communication” as the most important event technology development in recent years.
So once your event is over, don’t forget to mine all the analytics from your event technology platform to identify additional ideas to keep improving the attendee experience.
With pre-planning and the right event technology platform, you have a better chance of creating an amazing first-time experience that will leave attendees wanting more of your event – and returning for a second year.