If your goal is to create incredible events that dazzle attendees, look no further. This list of 15 real life events from leading brands like MozCon, Adobe, and SXSW are all prime examples of how to plan a great attendee experience.
Creating an amazing attendee experience should be priority number one for any company hosting events. In this article, we'll explore what the attendee experience really is, why it's critical that your events create satisfying attendee experiences, and 15 event marketing examples that you can learn from to improve the attendee experience at each of your events.
What Is the Attendee Experience?
When it comes to event marketing, "attendee experience" refers to the feelings event-goers have before, during, and after an event—good or bad. Are they excited to attend or are they being forced to by their boss? Are they having the time of their lives while there or do they find themselves dozing off during sessions? And do they talk about the conference for months after it's concluded or do they do their best to forget about it as soon as possible?
The answers to these questions are the summation of the attendee experience your events create.
Why is it Important to Create a Satisfying Attendee Experience?
Creating a satisfying attendee experience is important for many reasons. It will allow your company to build authority in its niche and customer loyalty. If your attendees love the time they spend at your expo, seminar, or conference, they'll be much more inclined to keep purchasing your products and services and telling their colleagues about your brand.
Nailing the attendee experience will also benefit your business financially. Attendees that enjoy their time at your events will return year after year. They might also convince their colleagues to attend and publish flattering online reviews of your event — both of which equal more money for your company and greater event ROI.
Additionally, satisfied attendees are more likely to be receptive to post-event communications from your brand. Whether you're running an event to build a community, accelerate sales, or both—a great attendee experience can set you up for long-term success.
In short, there's no better event marketing plan than creating killer attendee experiences.
Attendee Experience Examples
Mozcon is the annual conference from Moz, an industry leader in SEO software. The event focuses on all things digital marketing and sees over 1,000 attendees year in and year out. But one of the things that make this conference truly unique and ensures an amazing attendee experience is the community the Moz team has been able to build.
Before attendees even book their plane tickets to Seattle, WA, they have an opportunity to interact with each other via the Moz Facebook community. This group is active year round and veteran members often share advice with new MozCon attendees on how to get the most out of their experience, which speakers and sessions are can't miss, and more. It's an amazing group that builds buzz and excitement for the event months before it happens.
Key Takeaway: What you do before your event takes place can greatly impact the attendee experience. Consider developing an online community, based around your event, that will allow members to meet, share past experiences, and build anticipation for future conferences.
Source: Content Marketing World
Content Marketing World is the brainchild of famed content marketer and author Joe Pulizzi. It first came into existence in 2011 and has since exploded into the world's largest gathering of content marketing professionals. The 2019 event will feature over 4,000 attendees, 225 expert speakers, and 123 total hours of keynotes, sessions, and hands-on forums.
After people have attended an event, they want to feel like it was worth their time and money. CM World delivers by offering a higher quality experience than any other conference on content marketing. Event-goers can't get as much detailed information anywhere else and that ensures a satisfying attendee experience.
Key Takeaway: Content Marketing World is the absolute biggest and best conference in the world for content marketing professionals. To set your event apart from the competition, go big and give attendees an amazing experience that goes above and beyond what they can get anywhere else.
3. Adobe MAX
Source: Adobe MAX
Adobe MAX is all about creativity. Attendees are inspired to stretch their respective crafts to new heights, taught amazing new skills, and offered plenty of networking opportunities. These things alone would make most event-goers feel satisfied with their experience. But Adobe MAX offers something else as well: celebrity speakers.
Last year's event featured legendary filmmaker Ron Howard, five-time Grammy-winning musician Questlove, and highly sought-after comedic actress Tiffany Haddish.
Key Takeaway: Choose the speakers for your event carefully. They don't need to necessarily be celebrities like the folks who speak at Adobe MAX. But they should be recognizable and exciting to your target audience. When your event features rockstar speakers, an amazing attendee experience is all but assured.
South by Southwest, known as SXSW for short, is one of the most famous events in the world. Taking place in Austin, TX every year, attendees are treated to an amazing display of tech and business training, live music, stand up comedy, and more. It's got something for everyone and that's one of the ways it boosts the attendee experience.
Whether you want to learn about running a business or coding, watch your favorite band, or take in an independent film, SXSW can accommodate. That's what makes it so unique. It caters to a wide variety of people and entertains them on multiple levels.
Key Takeaway: Try catering to a wide range of interests at your events. Your conference may focus on cloud computing, but your attendees probably love music too. Why not bring in talented artists to serenade event goers each night? This is just one idea, but do your best to provide attendees value on multiple levels and better their experience at your events.
Known as North America's fastest-growing tech conference, this annual Toronto-based event "brings together the people and companies redefining the global tech industry." It's an amazing opportunity to learn from industry leaders and provides amazing networking opportunities with top tech leaders, fast-growing startups, and media personnel. The 2019 event alone is expecting over 25,000 attendees from 120 different countries. That's a lot of people to meet and connect with.
One of the main reasons people attend events is to meet their peers and major industry players. These connections can then be developed and used to propel careers forward. It's easy to look back on an event fondly if positive career developments can be directly traced back to them.
Key Takeaway: Provide your guests with plenty of networking opportunities. This will allow them to meet their peers and develop friendships. It may also give them opportunities to advance their careers.
Source: Traffic and Conversion Summit
Traffic and Conversion Summit is the largest digital marketing conference in North America and is hosted on a yearly basis in sunny San Diego. It's also a treasure trove of great B2B event marketing ideas.
Whether you're the CEO of a startup, run a marketing agency, sell products on Amazon, or work in a different sector of the marketing field, Traffic and Conversion Summit has something for you. And everything they share is actionable. Attendees don't have to worry about receiving interesting, but impractical information. Each speaker focuses on the details that can be immediately implemented.
Key Takeaway: Make sure your conference teaches attendees information they can actually use. When event-goers learn actionable tips and strategies, they'll naturally have a better event experience. After all, that's usually one of the main reasons they decided to attend.
Atlassian Summit is a yearly conference dedicated to inspiring Atlassian customers and teaching them how to better use the company's products which include Trello, Confluence, and Jira. The 2019 event will be hosted in Las Vegas, NV
One of the ways that Atlassian improves the attendee experience is by providing pre-conference training and certification classes. Event goers can learn how to use specific Atlassian products that will help them become more efficient and productive at work.
Key Takeaway: If your company sells products rather than services, arrange for your event to include product-specific training sessions. Your attendees will appreciate learning how to use your brand's software more efficiently.
8. AdAge Next
Source: Kairos Productions
AdAge Next 2019 will bring together advertising leaders and experts to discuss how TV advertising is evolving and where the greatest opportunities for marketers now lie. Speakers include executives at major corporations such as CBS, Viacom, and YouTube.
This event takes the opposite approach of many others. It's a one-day conference that focuses on just one topic: TV advertising. This allows attendees to know exactly what to expect before attending and really dive deep into the topic. It's also easier for attendees to plan for since it will only take them out of the office for one day.
Key Takeaway: Sometimes less is more. While having thousands of attendees and hundreds of speakers speaking on a whole host of different subjects can be beneficial, sometimes a tighter focus is needed. Assess your event and target audience. Would the attendee experience be improved by simplifying your conference?
XeroCon, hosted by cloud accounting software Xero, is an annual conference that shares industry insights, updates on cutting edge technology, and networking opportunities. Last year's conference was held in Atlanta, GA but the 2019 event will take place in San Diego, CA.
And while Xero has the typical event details on lock, they also offer an amazing hotel package to guests as well, which reserves them a room at the Hard Rock Hotel for a discounted price. This small, seemingly inconsequential event perk goes a long way to assure a great attendee experience.
Now, event-goers don't have to worry about booking their own accommodations. And after each day of learning, networking, and fun, attendees can relax in a quality room at a price they can afford.
Key Takeaway: Consider every aspect of the attendee experience. While it's important to nail every detail of your actual event, don't drop the ball on seemingly small details like accommodations. Boost the attendee experience in any way you can.
The aim of BoxWorks is to "unleash the blueprint for the future of work." They do this by bringing together top thought leaders and professionals from every industry in order to explore topics like team collaboration and data security. Past speakers include Stewart Butterfield, the CEO and Co-Founder of Slack, and Steve Kerr, the head coach of the NBA's Golden State Warriors.
BoxWorks does a great job of personalizing the attendee experience by offering specific conference tracks for a wide range of different people. There's a beginner track, a track for financial services and government workers, and even a track that teaches participants how to enable digital transformation.
Key Takeaway: Improve the attendee experience by personalizing it to each guest. This could mean creating multiple conference tracks as BoxWorks does, or something much simpler like personalized swag bags.
Source: TNW Conference
TNW Conference is a celebration of technological innovation. This annual event brings professionals in various technology fields together to "predict, discuss, and invent" the future. From AI to blockchain, TNW has the expert speakers and workshops its attendees need.
The conference makes a special effort to recognize young people in the field of technology with its T500 program. By honoring the top 500 professionals under the age of 26 and publicizing them to the rest of the conference's 17,000+ attendees, these talented few are usually then bombarded with networking opportunities and even exciting job offers.
Key Takeaway: Make a point to recognize specific groups of attendees. This will heighten their interest in your event and improve the attendee experience. Because who doesn't enjoy being recognized for their skills and hard work?
Source: Copy Distillery
Oktane 2019 will bring together IT professionals, product leaders, and developers in San Francisco, CA for three days of speakers, training, and networking opportunities regarding a wide range of topics on digital security. It's a very inclusive event that even features events for attendee spouses (labeled spousetivities) and childcare.
It pays to remember that each of your event guests is more than their profession. Many of them have spouses and children. A great way to improve the attendee experience is to make your event fun for the whole family.
Key Takeaway: Consider crafting specific programs that cater to event attendees' family members. A single parent will have a much better experience if they know their child is safe and being looked after. Or if they can travel with their loved ones and be assured they'll have a great time as well. It pays to remember that each of your event guests is more than their profession.
SiriusDecisions Summit is a sales, marketing, and product innovation conference held in various cities around the globe each year. The American event will take place from May 5th - 8th in Austin, TX and will feature expert speakers and intimate breakout sessions.
The entire conference will operate under the theme of togetherness and many of the speeches and workshops will focus on how to achieve high performance by aligning the B2B revenue engine. Having a central theme like this allows SiriusDecisions to better plan their event, analyze event marketing stats to discover what might work best for next year, and set clear expectations for their attendees.
Key Takeaway: Create a central theme for your entire event. This will allow you to better convey its value to potential attendees. When event-goers receive what they expect, they'll naturally have a better event experience.
Advocamp is THE customer experience, engagement, and advocacy event of the year. Last year's get together featured expert speakers from Netflix, DocuSign, and Marketo as well as multiple respected authors.
One thing this event does really well in regard to the attendee experience is showcase its unique personality. The entire conference embraces the "camp" theme and even creates humorous camp-styled videos to help promote it.
Key Takeaway: Your attendees love to laugh. Find ways to humor them in your event marketing and you'll forge a deeper bond with them. The key is to find the balance between funny and professional. Check out the way that Advocamp walks that line for inspiration.
C2Montreal is a networking event that's about a lot more than just networking. It's about creativity and exploration and practical advice that attendees can implement into their own businesses immediately. The 2019 event will feature speakers such as legendary filmmaker Spike Lee and Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte.
Every addition of C2Montreal includes amazing speeches, sessions, and networking opportunities available to attendees. But the conference is really famous for reinventing itself every year. No gathering is ever the same and the team behind the event works hard to keep it fresh and exciting.
Key Takeaway: How can you make your events different from previous additions? If you offer the same things every year, no matter how well you do them, attendees will eventually get bored and their event experience will suffer. Work hard to keep your events fresh and exciting by regularly adding new elements.
Key Takeaways: Give Your Event Attendees the Ultimate Experience
There are plenty of new, shiny event marketing trends to be aware of. But ensuring the ultimate attendee experience for each of your guests will never go out of style. We just listed 15 different events and how each of them addresses this issue. Here's a quick recap of the top takeaways:
- The attendee experience starts before the event takes place. Do your best to build anticipation for your events by encouraging community amongst attendees.
- Consider the size and scope of your event. Both big, extravagant events and small, narrowly focused gatherings can work depending on your target audience. Give your attendees what they need and they'll enjoy their experience.
- Finding the right speakers for your event is essential. Be sure to feature experts in their respective fields. The more name recognition, the better.
- Your event is more than the speakers and workshops it features. Improve the attendee experience by hosting afterparties, networking opportunities, product-specific training sessions, and even childcare options if necessary.
Ensuring an amazing attendee experience is a big task, but it's a lot easier with event marketing software. This kind of tool will help you during every phase of the event process and allow you to focus more on your guests and delivering the quality experience they deserve.