Best Practices

Creating memorable event experiences

How strategic planning sets you on course for a successful future

When it comes to events, it’s vital to create meaningful, memorable, and measurable experiences for exhibitors and attendees. Why? Because memorable experiences give exhibitors the best chance at that coveted “top-of-mind” position with their audience. Creating those experiences, though, can be a challenge.

To maximise brand experience, you can’t just try something out and hope for the best — instead, use strategic thinking focused on outcomes and results to ensure success, both short- and long-term.

Focus on the future

Tactical solutions deliver short-term results, but you’ll make better decisions if you set your internal visual clock forward several years into the future by asking, “How will this impact my growth in six days, six months, or six years?”

I encourage my teams to visualise events one, two, and five years down the line. That approach helps us know in which direction we’re moving, helping to build a stronger strategic view and creating many different paths to future events. For Freeman, we visualise plans to 2025 and beyond! Visualising that far into the future allows an understanding of how shorter-term actions will deliver in the long term. We think about how the messaging at one event can impact the messaging at the next event and beyond, which provides options to build the story and create a longer-term journey.

Challenge yourself to look further ahead; then make tactical decisions that support your long-term vision and lead to sustainable growth. When you’re committed to taking strategic risks for your future, you can engineer the results you want with confidence.

Challenge the status quo — strategically

What creates a memorable experience? Giving people something unexpected, things they’ve never seen before. In this constantly changing marketplace of ideas, you must find ways to stand out, taking risks to reap rewards.

A copy and paste of the previous year isn’t going to win the hearts and minds of attendees or the exhibitors — that rote approach doesn’t work for us either. Customers won’t remain motivated to attend if the environment isn’t fresh, updated, and dynamic every year.

Instead, give your event a heart and soul rooted in the commitment you make to your own brand: to deliver sustainable growth for years to come. That dedication creates unforgettable experiences for attendees and exhibitors alike. Determine what new strategies will ultimately lead to success and find partners who want to help you make your vision come to life.

Creating a story and reputation around your event, as well as bringing together exciting new ideas, helps your brand and message stand out.

To deliver a positive customer experience, know your audience

No matter how innovative your event is, if you don’t deliver a positive customer experience for both exhibitors and attendees, people won’t return. In every industry I’ve worked in, from automotive hospitality to tourism, delivering a memorable and positive customer experience has been key to growing the business. If you make customer experience the priority, it has a major positive effect on your long-term growth.

It is not a new idea, but talking to your customers and asking questions is critical.

  • What do they want to get out of the event?
  • What are their goals?
  • Do they have any concerns?
  • What kind of people do they want to visit the exhibit?

What customers want will vary from event to event, so it’s crucial to truly listen and understand their needs. This two-way communication informs strategy with ideas to make each individual feel like the event has been created just for them.

How do you know what’s working? Measurement and customer feedback. Gathering data lets you know if the spend was well-invested, and tells you what attendees and exhibitors enjoyed (and what they didn’t). You can use this data to continually guide your strategy, making wise investments that will draw larger crowds every year.

Tap into human nature

As humans, we crave interaction and connection. When opportunities for connection are well orchestrated, it makes an event special. It’s not just someone talking about a brand; it’s groups of people interacting face-to-face and creating shared experiences that stimulate all five senses — that’s the creation of memories.

At live events, deadlines are short and the scale is much greater, which is why creating a satisfying and memorable experience for attendees has much more of an impact. You’re giving people a live, personal experience with amazing moments that they can’t truly experience from dialing in remotely. The pressure may be higher, but so are the rewards!

The people attending your events have been to countless others. And they attend events for a multitude of reasons. Understanding those reasons and making sure they’re covered will personalise the experience, creating a one-on-one connection with your brand.

If you can pull that off, then you automatically create an unforgettable experience they’ll continue to seek out from your organisation. It’s incredibly satisfying to know you’ve helped people get the most out of an event. What’s even more satisfying is boosting your own growth by doing so.

Chris Preston
Managing Director, EMEA

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