We are in the middle of conference season where people are booking trips to hot spots like Miami, Las Vegas, San Diego, and any other place that has beaches or lets you gamble. One problem: the economy. Since the recession, conference turnout is low, hotel prices have been reduced, and expectations have been lowered. So, how would you improve conference turnout?
First, let me say if you’re holding a conference this year…you’re screwed. There’s nothing you can do with low turnout and reduce prices.
Luckily, Maren Hogan and the RecruitingBlogs.com Talent Talk Cafe gave great suggestions on what to do in conferences. There’s one thing I want to talk about in this post that is underutilized for most conferences and should be thinking about: “Sampling”.
For my viewpoint of “sampling”, I will point you to an area you don’t think of conferences: music sharing. There was a study in Norway where it shows that people who downloaded music illegally do tend to buy more music from albums or online music stores than the average person. The article does not tell us why P2P users are buying music after downloading. Now, what’s this have to do with conferences?
There are a lot of people going to webinars to save money and learn a lot more at their own office or home. It might be a great idea for the short-term, but what about the long run? This leads to my point that “sampling” the conference could be a net positive for organizations.
“Sampling” can be from live-streaming, tweets, blogs, slideshows and pictures. These “samplings” give the person, who didn’t attend the conference, a feel of what they are missing. However, “samplings” must have a positive vibe to most who attend the conference. If not, they lost a potential customer/attendee. It is crucial for conference organizers to execute the conference as a great experience for people who want to go to the next conference.
What’s missing in the “sampling” is the face-to-face interaction with your fellow peers. By “sampling”, people would be motivated to save money or be productive at work so they have an opportunity to not only enjoy the conference, but enjoy the scenery and the networking opportunities with their peers. “Sampling” can also build relationships by mentioning that you’re going to the next conference and you want to meet up with others.
What music sharing and “sampling” does is it brings an audience for curiosity and intrigue. They read, watch, and listen to the materials from others, but if those materials connect, it will bring an interest that they might want to try it. For music sharing, it’s to buy the album or the other songs from the artist they listen to. For conference goers, it’s the atmosphere created by not only by the conference organizers, but the people who attend the event, have great things to say about the conference and if it is convincing enough, they are willing to go to the next conference.
Conferences are going to suck this year, but with an executed strategy and buzz, people will be attending conferences in no time.