Elevate The Event Experience: Why You Should Be Surprising and Delighting Your Attendees

By Sally Rogers
July 19, 2019

If you’re working in the events industry, your attendees are your customer so you’re likely thinking about how best to support and care for them to continue to grow your audience and the event! And you’re likely also faced with the reality that your attendees many include quite a few millennials. The largest living generation (one-third of the US population!), they love their experiences: 4 out of 5 millennials “say that attending live events make them feel more connected to other people, the community and the world.” And for these attendees, it’s not enough to just give them a chance to come together: read on to learn more about why you need to elevate the event experience by surprising and delighting your attendees.

Attendees Expect Good Design

Splash, a company that provides event management tools, did a survey last year that revealed that 40% of millennials said “if the invite or event page is ugly, they wouldn’t even go to the event.”

Less of this…

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More of this...

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SO. Check out Minted, Paperless Post, Splash, or Canva: they offer reasonably priced or free digital invitation tools. Your attendees expect good design, they’ll be delighted by it, and you’ll start to build trust before they’ve even gotten to the event.

Attendees Are After The Swag. But It Better Be Memorable.

47% of millennials go to a branded event because of the swag. Our biggest piece of advice here? Don’t spend money on another piece of useless swag that is just going to end up in the landfill. Event producers are participating in the $24B swag industry that is just supporting importing cheaply-made junk that attendees don’t really want. No one gets giddy over another logo-ed water bottle. But offer your attendees one of the 1000+ Parsnip better-for-you brands like a jar of Kween’s granola butter or Bonnie’s old-school preserves and you’ve got the recipe for a super-tasty female-founded PB&J your attendees will be talking about for weeks. Remember: your event is about the experience.

Social Media is Fair Game

Speaking of experience, your event is intentional around that in-real life community love. But that IRL stuff is fair game for the digital world. Which means you need to be thinking about how your attendees are going to be capturing your event — before, during and after. Consider filling the in-between moments with surprising experiences, include instagrammable stations, and add signage with the hashtags you’d like your attendees to use. Back to our PB&J event… why not partner up with Delish to curate a PB&J smoothie station? That’s the stuff of Insta-stories, social bragging (yes, 24% of millennials “said they attend events just for social media bragging rights”), and writing home to Mom about your 21st Century delightful PB&J smoothie. And that’s the stuff your attendees will remember for months.

It’s Easier To Develop Longer-Term Relationships with Attendees After A Fantastic Event

If you’ve captured your attendees by surprising and delighting them at your event, you’ve got an incredible opportunity to harness the power of that experience into future touchpoints. “One thing most event organizers forget about is the power of a post-event strategy and how it can continue to impact revenue way after the event,” reflects the CEO of Splash. In fact, attendees are very open to receiving targeted mailers, promos, loyalty rewards, etc. after the event. So if you make your post-event strategy as important as your during-the-event strategy, you’ll have a rapt audience to continue to build a deeper relationship with. For example, you might include promo codes in an event recap email for your PB&J partners or hold a PB&J photo competition and reward the winner with a free ticket to your next event. Bonus points if they use the swag PB&J you gave them! (Note: A PB&J Sandwich-Classic Competition exists.)

As you think about your next event, it’s clear you should be thinking about surprising and delighting your attendees. First of all, they are looking for it in their expectations around good design; they’re at your event in part because of the swag so you better make it exceptional; and you’ll be able to better build long-term relationships with them if you’ve surprised and delighted them in person.

Need help with the whole surprise and delight thing? Put your event on Parsnip and let us do the work!