From hashtags to photo opps, event planning has evolved from the days where a good menu and a strong run-of-show guaranteed success. Brands are facing increasing competition for attention and consumers are seeking an experience they’ll never forget. Event planners have an opportunity to move the needle for the brands they represent by extending efforts beyond the actual moment in time. Strong communication—before, during and after the event—will drive a stronger ROI, whether your invite list includes an influencer group of 50 or a city of 500,000.
The invitations are out and RSVPs are coming in—great, you’re well on your way to meeting your attendance goals. The time leading up to the event is often a flurry of preparation, but it’s important to consider your guests’ planning efforts as well. Sustaining communication from the point of RVSP to event day can make a big impression. The Minnesota Vikings and U.S. Bank Stadium recently hosted a free open house for fans to tour the stadium for the first time. The promotion of the event included family-friendly outdoor activities and a chance to get a glimpse at the headline-making new building. Over 150,000 excited fans reserved a free ticket for the two-day event. Unfortunately, stormy weather moved through the area, delaying outdoor activities, leaving some visitors soggy and unsure of what to do next. The key learning? Outdoor events require a strong plan B that is clearly communicated to attendees in advance and via quick-turn email or text day-of, a supply of ponchos and possibly an opportunity to reschedule. Ultimately, fans were allowed through the stadium doors to dodge the storm, but the result was heavy traffic and congestion inside.
Offline to Online
Your attendees have arrived and are snapping pictures left and right, actively posting real-time images to their social media channels and offering their friends and followers a chance to follow along. Brands have the opportunity to leverage this offline experience online, and in real time. By assigning a dedicated hashtag, a brand ambassador can easily track and share the event online to reach a larger audience, while capturing feedback and content for future event promotion and recap efforts. Tangletown Gardens hosted their annual Farm Supper this August. The entire experience was Instagram-worthy, from the drive to the farm, to the boars in the pasture and the family-style dinner. The 100 attendees were capturing the event and sharing it with their followers throughout the evening, but no imagery included a hashtag to allow fans to follow along with the evening’s story. This simple tweak has the potential to increase reach exponentially, effectively bringing the offline event online for all to experience.
Metrics that Matter
Tried and true methods to measure the success of an event include attendance numbers and the quantity, quality and tone of resulting media coverage. Collecting feedback from attendees – through surveys or by monitoring social conversation – can take the event metrics to the next level, providing data to not only measure success, but also inform future planning efforts. Event planning is an investment, both in people and in budget, but nothing in your marketing mix can replace the power of a perfectly executed brand experience. Making the most of the experience, before, during and after the event, will ensure the investment is proven invaluable.