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Madison ShepherdMay 23, 2024 10:02:32 AM8 min read

Effective Attendee Engagement Strategies For Your Next Event

Effective Attendee Engagement Strategies For Your Next Event
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Does your company currently have an attendee engagement strategy?

You can't organize a successful – let alone enjoyable – event without authentic attendee engagement and networking opportunities. 

Crafting an attendee engagement strategy for your event is important. Doing so ensures your attendees won't endure another dull corporate gathering but will anticipate returning for an exciting experience year after year.

Not only does a strategy help increase attendee participation and interaction, but it also amplifies your event’s ROI and drives the achievement of key performance indicators (KPIs).

In this article, discover why having an attendee engagement strategy is important and explore activities you can incorporate to enhance your upcoming event experience.

Short Summary

  1. What is an attendee engagement strategy? 
  2. Why is having an attendee engagement strategy important?
  3. How can you use technology to help with attendee engagement?
  4. 6 Ideas for Increased Attendee Engagement

group of event attendees networking over drinks

What is an Attendee Engagement Strategy?

An attendee engagement strategy is a plan designed to attract and captivate individuals participating in an event, such as conferences, sales kickoffs, trade shows, or corporate meetings.

This strategy aims to create meaningful interactions, promote knowledge sharing, and leave attendees eagerly anticipating your next event. 

Examples of attendee engagement strategies may include interactive activities, networking opportunities, educational sessions, entertainment, and communication channels to keep participants engaged, informed, and participating throughout the event. 

group of attendees watching a presentation at an incentive trip dinner

Why is Having an Attendee Engagement Strategy Important?

An attendee engagement strategy is crucial for several reasons, including boosting participation, enhancing learning and retention, and increasing return on investment (ROI).

Given the importance of attendee engagement, it's no wonder that almost 90% of event managers have a strategy in place. 

This rate is even higher for those who are early adopters of technology (CB Events 2024 Event Trends Research Study). 

group of attendees looking at phone during conference event

How Can You Use Technology to Help With Attendee Engagement?

Event managers that have an attendee engagement strategy in place report higher usage of many event technologies, including data analysis, exhibitor/sponsor management, and session/agenda building (CB Events). 

You can leverage technology in many different ways to elevate the overall event experience for attendees and help drive successful outcomes. 

For example, you can use pre-event surveys to collect demographic data from attendees to improve their event experience. Alternatively, post-event surveys can be used to guide decisions for your future events.

For more ideas for event survey questions, take a look at our article featuring 21 post-event survey questions designed to maximize your event success.

Event apps are a popular tool that many event managers use to help them plan and manage events. Ways to incorporate attendee engagement strategies into your apps include:

  • Sponsor interactions and push notifications
  • Real-time polling or Q&A in sessions
  • Gamification elements woven throughout the event
  • Real-time feedback opportunities (hey, the snack bar is low!)
  • Immediate surveys after each session

 

Check out our list of top 10 smart event management apps to streamline your event planning. 

 

6 Ideas for Increased Attendee Engagement

1. How Event Registration Impacts Attendee Engagement

When event managers reflect on their attendees' initial event experience, they prioritize easy registration as the most important factor. (CB Events). 

Event registration is more than just a means to gather attendee details such as contact information, ticket preferences, and dietary needs. It's also the initial touchpoint that shapes attendees' perceptions of your event

Choosing the right event registration platform is important for the success of any event, but with so many options available, it can be challenging to find the perfect fit for your event.

Read our article highlighting our 7 top event registration software picks and learn how to make the most of your event registration platform. 

graph of importance to attendees' initial experiencesSource: 2024 CB Event Trends Study

2. Attendee Engagement Activities

Engaging your audience can be a challenging task for event managers. 

With differing expectations, preferences, and interests – not to mention distractions – it's crucial to incorporate activities that will captivate and energize your attendees.

According to the CB Events 2024 Event Trends Report, when it comes to attendee engagement activities, event managers continue to use traditional means. Entertainment, parties/dinners/bars, and well-known industry experts as speakers or guests top the list. 

graph of top engagement activities

Source: 2024 CB Event Trends Study

Engagement activities such as communicating with attendees year-round and education sessions have decreased significantly from 2023. 

For examples of activities to enhance your attendee engagement strategy, see our recommendations below. 

Consider integrating some into your event agenda or adding your own creative twist to one of the many ideas provided.

 

3. Entertainment

Incorporating entertainment is a great way to break up the monotony of event presentations and create a fun atmosphere for your attendees. 

You can also use scheduled entertainment as a teaser in your pre-event marketing promotions to entice attendees. 

Live Music Performance

Hire a local band or musician to perform during breaks or networking sessions to add a lively and entertaining atmosphere to your event. 

Consider how your event theme can be enhanced through a choice of music to better reinforce your messaging. 

For example, at a client’s recent anniversary celebration event, our project management team collaborated with a local traditional Japanese drumming group, Tsukasa Taiko, to offer evening entertainment. 

Incorporating the client’s vision of highlighting Chicago-based entertainment while honoring their Japanese company heritage, we successfully brought their creative concept to life!

traditional Japanese drums being used as entertainment during a corporate event

Interactive Games Area

Set up game stations with activities like giant Jenga, cornhole, or arcade games to encourage attendees to interact with one another and have fun. 

Other trending games we've seen include pickleball tournaments, fashion shows, and trivia sessions. Encourage your sponsors to bring games for extra fun on the show floor.

woman playing giant jenga at a corporate incentive trip retreat

Photo Booth with Props

Install a photo booth equipped with fun props and backdrops where attendees can take memorable photos and instantly share them on social media.

At a recent sales kickoff event in Chicago, attendees were eager to gather around the camera to snap photos with their colleagues. 

360 photo booths are very common these days – you can use this as a sponsorship opportunity as well!

group of event attendees posing for a photo booth

 

4. Interesting Evolutions for Your Parties/ Dinner/ Open Bar

Who doesn’t like free food and drinks? 

Scheduling dinner parties or an open bar for your attendees is an excellent way to add excitement to your event.

Try out one of our suggestions below to spice up your next corporate event.

Themed Cocktail Party

Lean into your event theme by hosting a cocktail party with signature drinks, decorations, and music to create a festive atmosphere for attendees to network in.

At a recent celebration event for one of our clients, we enjoyed helping them craft a cocktail party featuring two signature cocktails and one mocktail. These drinks were specially curated using the client's own food products and aligned perfectly with their "launchpad" theme.

corporate sales kickoff cocktail
corporate sales kickoff cocktail
corporate sales kickoff cocktail

 

Themed Food Stations

Offer a variety of food stations featuring different cuisines or interactive cooking stations at your event. 

At a recent event in Dallas, we incorporated our client’s sports-themed conference into the food stations at the attendee welcome dinner. Our lineup featured a delicious spread of wings, sliders, and nachos, perfectly complementing the gaming theme of the event.

evening sports-themed conference set-up

Mixology Masterclass

Organize a mixology masterclass where attendees can learn how to craft cocktails from knowledgeable bartenders, followed by a tasting session to sample their creations.

In 2020, we organized a virtual mixology class, shipping cocktail creation kits directly to event attendees. During a meeting break, participants joined a Zoom session guided by an expert cocktail connoisseur. This interactive experience was a hit with attendees during the pandemic, offering both engagement and education.

tools for mixology masterclass given to event attendees

 

5. Well-Known Industry Experts as Speakers or Guests

A great speaker can help set the tone and leave a lasting impression on your audience. 

They can also significantly influence whether attendees decide to register for and attend your event.

Remember to also generate excitement around these experts in your event marketing promotions.

Here are some ways that you can leverage industry experts during your corporate event.

Fireside Chat

Host a fireside chat or panel discussion featuring well-known industry experts or thought leaders sharing insights, trends, and best practices relevant to your attendees.

corporate event sales kickoff fireside chat

VIP Meet-and-Greet

Offer exclusive meet-and-greet sessions or roundtable discussions with keynote speakers or special guests, giving attendees the opportunity for impactful interactions. 

Interactive Workshops

Facilitate hands-on workshops or classes led by experts, covering topics of interest or trends in your industry. 

 

6. Giveaways/ Merchandise

Attendees have become more selective about the type of free items and merchandise they keep from events. In fact, over 70% of event swag is thrown out before attendees even leave the venue (Retail Insider). 

Invest in branded giveaways that your attendees actually want and that won’t be tossed away right after the raffle. 

Here are some ideas that your attendees will genuinely appreciate, encouraging them to engage even more with your event:

Quality Swag Bags

Provide attendees with a high-quality branded swag bag filled with useful items such as notebooks, water bottles, or branded merchandise showcasing your company or sponsors. 

Check out our article on 10 must-have swag bag ideas that won’t end up in the trash.

corporate conference swag bags

Raffle Drawings

Hold raffle drawings throughout the event with exciting prizes such as gift cards, tech gadgets, or experiences like spa treatments or weekend getaways to incentivize attendance and engagement.raffle prizes during a corporate event

Interactive Polls or Surveys

Encourage attendee participation by conducting interactive polls or surveys using event apps or digital platforms, with the chance to win prizes for completing them.

Live Auction

To energize and engage your attendees, organize a live auction between meetings featuring exclusive items or experiences. You can have the proceeds go towards a charitable cause or organization supported by your company. 

For more ideas, check out our article on 23 creative conference activity ideas for maximum event engagement. 

Plan Your Next Corporate Event with GoGather

Need help planning your attendee event engagement and marketing strategies? Let’s chat about how GoGather can help you plan your best event yet.

let's plan your best event yet

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Madison Shepherd

Madison Shepherd is a Marketing Specialist at GoGather. When she's not writing blogs or sending out social media posts, she enjoys hiking, traveling, or reading at one of the many beautiful beaches in San Diego.

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