When it comes to corporate events, one size does not fit all. Organizations host company events to achieve specific objectives, and attendees want events to be relevant and valuable to their professional lives.
In addition to relevant and valuable content at corporate events, let’s face it: we all want to be treated as individuals. A survey conducted by Evergage found that 88% of people expect marketing to be personalized — targeted to their individual needs. From song recommendations to product ideas to news and media content, we are accustomed to experiences that are curated to our needs and addressed to us personally.
The good news is, it takes less effort than you’d think to add a few key doses of personalization and customization. Here are a few ways to set your corporate event apart and make it feel like a one-of-a-kind experience.
Ways to Personalize Your Event
There’s no question that there is value in personalizing corporate events. Here are a few ways our clients often choose to personalize their event:
Online registration forms and electronic check-in make it easy to collect information that will help to create personalized experiences for attendees. While you don’t want to make forms so long that people don’t want to complete them, asking certain key questions can help you make them feel welcome and appreciated.
Name: provide a field for “preferred name” so that people who typically go by a short form have the option to have that on their name badge.
Meals: if someone has dietary restrictions, this could be flagged on their event badge or wristband, both so they are certain you know they have allergies, and so it is easy to serve them the right meal.
Sessions: if you have breakouts or other activities that people can choose from, collecting the information ahead of time allows you to create personalized agendas so they know exactly where to be and when to be there.
Hotel information: if you know where attendees are staying you can add to the wow-factor by arranging to have their gift bags, along with a personal touch like a welcome note and fresh cookies, already in their rooms when they arrive.
On event day, you can streamline the check-in process using a self-serve electronic check-in app. As people arrive and check in, your event staff can pull each attendee’s materials and swag from the pile and make them accessible so that no one has to wait more than a few moments.
Event apps are an easy way to personalize the experience for attendees. They range in complexity from single-purpose apps specific to the event sessions, to complete solutions from registration to post-event follow-up. Using an event app, you can:
Include interactive venue maps that help attendees find the specific things they have signed up for
Have the option of push-notifications specific to each attendee’s event schedule so that they don’t miss their most anticipated activities
Invite attendees to actively participate in event sessions using real-time question and answer features
Create internal social spaces so attendees can network and share content
Have live support available via chat in case any attendees need assistance
As a bonus, using an event app can also provide you with data to improve future events. This can be something as simple as instant feedback through surveys, to more complicated analytics based on attendees’ interaction with the app.
It’s easy to accept a mandatory meeting invitation without really reading through the details. But what if the communication around the event was addressed to you personally?
Most email tools make it easy to send personalized event communication to entire lists of attendees with minimal effort. You can import your contacts, then personalization is as simple as inserting automated fields into your email. Any time there are important details or instructions to distribute, addressing your attendees by name makes it more likely to catch their attention.
You can use any of the fields you collected during registration, so leading up to the event, send your attendees an email with their arrival time, group assignment, hotel details, and event schedule.
Your pre-event communications can help you tailor elements of the event even further. For example, sending a poll to let attendees vote on a detail or two — like maybe one of the freebies in their gift bags — shows them that you’re interested in feedback and builds buy-in and enthusiasm long before they arrive at the venue.
After the event, you can use the same technique to follow up with materials that were promised, additional resources, and attendee surveys so you can collect feedback for the next time.
Get creative with the event hashtag. Don’t just select something generic; go for something memorable that means something to your attendees (but double-check to make sure it isn’t being used to mean something entirely different elsewhere!). And when your attendees engage during the event, respond to them and use their name so they know you appreciate their engagement with the event online.
When selecting the sessions and activities that will fill your agenda, look for providers who are able to customize their sessions to perfectly suit your audience and objectives.
As discussed above, keynote speakers can be interesting and inspiring, but in general, the stories that they tell may only be loosely related to the challenges your company is facing, or the outcomes you set out to achieve. Similarly, panels may have the odd good idea, but by definition, panelists can only tell you what worked for them, which may or may not be relevant to your attendees.
One option to consider that is highly engaging, relevant, and valuable is an experiential activity. A good experiential events partner will always sit down with their client before the event to gain insight into what is going on within the company, and what the client is hoping to achieve with the session. That way, the experience and the debrief that follows can be tailored to address specific challenges and outcomes, allowing each individual attendee to take away something that is valuable to them.
The time and money it takes to personalize your next corporate event may feel daunting initially — and there are certainly ways to take it over the top — but the reality is that it doesn’t really take that much to differentiate your event from the rest. Even small attempts to personalize your company event can make a world of difference to your attendees and stakeholders who want the event to be directly relevant to their goals.