The term “added value” is no stranger to those in the business world. A key concept in business studies, added value is all about enhancing a product or service before it reaches the customer and something which customers are demanding more and more.
Added value is the key to event success. I’m not talking about securing free homemade cookies for delegates with their morning tea break, or even an upgrade from bacon sandwiches to a continental breakfast. With every pound of your budget counting, event spend remaining under scrutiny, and expectations higher than ever, adding value comes down to you generating a high level of participation from your delegates from the start.
Outline the objectives
The key to knowing how successful your event was is to measure it against the objectives you set out at the start. Establishing the purpose of the event will not only make the process of organising it easier, but if you involve attendees at this early stage then you ensure everyone will have similar expectations and a clearer understanding of the end goal, making people more focused and saving time, and instantly increasing the success of the meeting.
Elect the attendees
Your objectives will also help you elect the right attendees. Having big numbers attend events can look impressive but if it proves to be a waste of time for many who are present, it will end up reflecting badly on you. Think carefully about who really needs to be there – having a more targeted audience means your budget can go further and extra value can be experienced.
Timings and agenda
Think carefully about the timings of the event. When you consider the start time think about who you’re targeting and where they will be travelling from. It may sound obvious but this is often overlooked putting attendees under great strain to arrive on time. I also recommend outlining a clear agenda or event schedule with specific timings as early on as possible – this allows your attendees to understand what is expected of them and buy into the event. If possible outline responsibilities and who is involved in what within the agenda, eg speakers, break-out sessions and networking, this will help ensure people come prepared.
Provide as much in advance as possible
Whilst you won’t be able to force your attendees to read what you send them in advance of the event, by doing so you’re at least giving them the option to get ahead. By providing meeting materials ahead of the event itself, you can also save yourself some fairly hefty print costs, focusing on sharing information at the event electronically.
Rewind and play back
There is only so much everyone can take in at an event, meeting or conference. Sticking to the agenda and ensuring people don’t go off on tangents will help keep what is being absorbed relevant and of value. It is also worthwhile videoing or recording the event, or if it is a formal meeting taking minutes is imperative. All of these give you the opportunity to go back over certain bits of the event for clarification, to gain a better understand or to demonstrate to others the outcomes.
Adding value doesn’t just stop here: adding an experiential element to your event can also be a great way to add value.
One of the hardest parts of experiential activity is coming up with an exciting and innovative idea that is logistically possible and that fits within your budget. Start by looking at what activities your venue can offer – some are readily obvious and will link in nicely with your event, otherwise you may have to scratch beneath the surface a little. For example, if your event is about the launch of a new selection of juices, why not set up a juice station that demonstrates how the juices are made and gives attendees the chance to create their own flavour combinations as well as trying the product – all of which helps create an emotional link to the product. For meetings focused on rebranding or creating a new look for a corporate company, you could help delegates think outside the box by adding an experiential element to the event where they are encouraged to come together and create individual pieces of “art” using a variety of colours, textures and shapes that they feel represents the brand. Delegates can then talk through the art and inspiration can be taken to help build the new brand.
When it comes to adding an experiential element the possibilities really are endless so remember to keep your limitations in mind and ensure you keep your event objectives at the heart of your planning. “