When new attendees have a great experience at your conference, seminar, convention (or other live event) they come back year-over-year. First impressions matter! Your conference first timer program is an important marketing tool.
The first time attendee is usually unsure of what to expect when they arrive on site. Attending the conference was a commitment of time and money and they are watching to see where they will find a return on investment.
There is a lot of competition in the meetings business and you want your event to stand out. At every association executive meeting there is talk about how to be unique and get new members engaged.
A successful convention is more than the hotel, convention center, exhibit hall. The meals are not why people plan to attend. Even the agenda and speakers are not the key to why your people are there. It is about the networking. Networking matters, and it is harder if you do not know a single person at the conference.
Don’t Be The Same
Doing the same thing that every other live event does to welcome first timers is not enough to stand out. Your CEO or board president welcoming the conference first timer is nice, but it hardly makes them feel special.
When you invest in a special program and create a welcome experience, they are more likely to become engaged throughout the whole conference. Leave it to chance and your first timers feel lonely and disconnected. Those who feel this way do not come back the following year.
When your conference first timers know they matter, it impacts everything. It also sends a message to the rest of your attendees to not ignore these newcomers. Cliques kill the culture of associations, but most groups are overflowing with walls between those in the know and everyone else.
Get your first timers to become ambassadors for a successful event. Tell them to come to the first timer event, and make it open for all who want to participate. An overflowing room with seasoned attendees and first timers makes the new attendee get engaged faster. When they are more engaged, they have more fun. Thus they will tell others and come back again and again.
For those who care about social media engagement at their event, a first timer program gets your attendees to be more playful on social media. Talk about it and make it easy for them to tweet and post to Instagram (know you hashtags upfront).
Hire A Facilitator
Thom Singer believes that large events need to do more than have an open bar at their conference first timer program. Networking is not about free beer and business cards . People want to feel welcome and showing them ways to become engaged within your event community is paramount to how they navigate through their inaugural attendance.
Customizing a program for your newcomers will give them a chance to meet others and show everyone that your planning committee has made them a priority. Thom works closely with your committee to co-present a program that is focused on the details of your event, and also motivates and encourages a deeper level of participation at the conference.
Repeat attendance is paramount to the success of any live gathering. When people have a positive experience the first year they come to a conference they are more likely to return again the following year.
Call Thom Singer for a free consultation on ways to enhance the First Timer Program at your next event. 512-970-0398. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thom Singer is a motivational keynote speaker and professional master of ceremonies. He speakers for corporations and associations and his unique conference first timer programs will change the culture of your event.