Many companies and organizations are currently planning for next year’s annual meeting. Keeping recurring events like the annual meeting fresh and new is no easy accomplishment in today’s dynamic business climate where out with the old and in with the new is the expectation for nearly every occasion.
Events must evolve with the times to keep members engaged. And while attendees have high expectations, meeting planners must creatively weigh those desires against lean budgets.
At the High Point Convention & Visitors Bureau, we have a team of professionals who can brainstorm with you to generate new and exciting ideas for your event. We have relationships with area venues and retailers to accommodate even the most unusual requests. Before you write something off as not being possible, give us a call.
We have worked with the Miss North Carolina USA pageants for the past 14 years. Each year, we provide something a little different for the girls to keep the trip fresh and exciting. For example, we have provided tours of local attractions, a speaker series at High Point University and shopping for parents. One time we even had the High Point Police escort the winners around the city in a police car.
“We know that each year, the girls will enjoy the time they spend in High Point,” says Paula M. Miles, president of RPM Productions, Inc., the organization producing the pageants. “The contestants, their friends and their families will be treated to a first-class event and they look forward to experiencing something unique to High Point while they are here.”
Listed below are seven tips for creating excitement and increasing attendance at those annual events.
- Entertain, Dance & Sing: Consider offering something for everyone. When thinking about the evening events, think about all the things attendees like to do at networking events and create elements within the meeting to cater to those elements. It’s a good idea to have a variety of entertainment, seating areas, activities and food. That means there needs to be something for those who want to sit down and talk and have background music, and for those that may want to get up and dance, and even elements like live karaoke for those attendees that really want to participate.
- Get A Jump Start: Begin looking forward to next year’s event as soon as this one is over. Encourage attendees to ‘save the date’ for the next event. The more time attendees have to prepare, the better the attendance.
- Post It & Hashtag It: In the era of social networking, it is critical to utilize social media pre, during and post meeting to generate ongoing interest with participants. Using social media helps get attendees engaged prior to the meeting, helps keep them engaged during the meeting, and it helps continue the conversations and the collaborative connection with other attendees post conference. One organization incorporated a scavenger hunt throughout the meeting hall where attendees posted certain items to the meeting hashtag on Twitter. If they completed all elements, they were entered into a drawing for a grand prize.
- Vamp Up With Vacation Style: If the time of year can lead to a family vacation, attendance tends to go up. If the meeting is over the holidays, or during the summer, encourage your members to come early or stay longer to shop for furniture and explore all that High Point and North Carolina have to offer.
- Dazzle the Delivery: One of the best ways to build attendance and engage any generation of attendees is to make sure the content is relevant and delivered in a variety of formats that will appeal to a broad spectrum of attendees. Not everyone wants to sit and listen to a speaker without interaction, but some people do. Make sure you have both interactive and more passive sessions.
- Stop the Structure: Especially with younger generations, sessions that engage participants interactively are drawing greater crowds. Involve members more directly in workshops through means of group discussions, and networking opportunities in a less intense or structured environment to allow them the comfort of expressing themselves amongst peers.
Inquire to Inspire: If you want to know what excites participants, go to the source. Prior to the meeting ask for ideas, opinions and topics of interest from the attendees to improve their focus on subject matter as well as encourage more participation in program activities. Attendees need to feel respected, appreciated and valued. Always ask for feedback to learn how things are going, allowing room to make adjustments, improvements or simply modifications that will continue the interest and participation.
As you begin planning for next year’s annual meeting, be sure to give us a call. We’d be happy to send you a request for proposal (RFP) form. We will walk hand-in-hand you from beginning to end to ensure that you have a positive experience while in High Point. Call me at 336-884-5255 or email Nancy Bowman.