An in-depth research study ‘Inside the Mind of Event Attendees’, commissioned by Cvent, conducted by Edelman Intelligence, highlights the preferences and challenges of event attendees regarding the overall event experience and the need for event organisers and marketers to provide more personalised experiences.
Meetings and events continue to be a key business generator for organisations. In addition, for the attendees, professional events are extremely valuable opportunities to learn, network and grow their careers. But attending events comes with its own set of challenges that event organisers must help people to overcome, to maximise the experience and the return on investment for the organiser. Thus, understanding the wants and needs of event attendees has become increasingly critical for industry professionals in the creation and delivery of positive attendee experiences.
This study observed the attitudes of event attendees, while highlighting actions organisers can take to measure the impact of events and improve upon event experiences. Responses were gathered from 3,000 B2B event attendees – 1,000 from the UK, 1,000 from Germany and 1,000 from the US. In addition to the geographical spread of respondents, the data was collected from three demographics of event participants; Millennial, Gen X and Baby Boomers. Recognising that attendees from different regions, at different stages of their career are to be treated as individual groups with individual needs is the first step in creating a personalised experience.
The Networking Challenge
Overall, 76% of respondents agreed that networking with other attendees is a key part of the professional event experience. However, for UK and US respondents, respectively, the 3rd and 4th highest points of stress at events is networking. The research found that UK attendees are particularly stressed by not knowing anyone and trying to fit in. Clearly, attendees know how important networking is and actively want to do it so it’s undesirable for something of this level of importance to provide one of the highest areas of stress at events.
Getting inside the mind of these attendees gives event organisers the chance to introduce solutions to ‘event stressors’ which helps to overcome challenges of this nature. The research revealed that attendees would like recommendations for other attendees to network with based on their industry and job role. Personalisation of this nature can be achieved by offering a mobile event app that helps people to connect virtually based on preferences, industry and job role as well as providing the ability to schedule meetings in advance rather than simply ‘hoping’ to meet.
71% of attendees revealed that mobile apps have been valuable to them at events. For attendees, mobile apps remove the stress around an event’s logistics and allow them to more easily navigate and reap value from events. Event app adoption can lead to more educational and engaging experiences, as 53% of those who downloaded an event’s app expressed being likely to attend more events within the year.
The Stress of Attending Events
But networking, although a major challenge for respondents, was not the only source of event stress. More than a third of attendees in the UK (34%) find the time away from home and loved ones to be stressful when attending events. Across mainland Europe, nearly half (48%) of German attendees find time away to be stressful.
US attendees are more stressed by balancing their event attendance with keeping up with their regular work. Whereas German attendees are more stressed by navigating the event and proving the value of what they have learned.
When split by age rather than location, Millennials show higher stress levels than Baby-Boomers across the board, especially when it comes to the more social aspects of attending events.
Source: Inside the mind of the attendee, A 2018 Cvent/Edelman Study
What Attendees Want
Personalisation can appear to be simply another buzzword, but the research shows that it is in fact what attendees want. Six in ten UK executives attending B2B events desire a more personalised experience before, during, and after an event. Nearly half (47%) would like a detailed schedule to be created for them by the organisers, including recommended sessions, and dining and social options. More than a quarter (27%) of UK attendees would like a personal concierge that ‘assists me throughout the entire event attendee process from registration to my home journey afterwards.’
Patrick Smith, Chief Marketing Officer at Cvent comments:
“The results of this study give us a clear understanding of what attendees want out of their business events and provides the insights event professionals need to deliver a more impactful and memorable experience. With so many professional development options available today via online platforms and internal trainings, our report illustrates how live events continue to be an extremely valuable way for attendees to grow both personally and professionally.”
“Personalisation can help turn prospects into registrants. As our study reveals, personalisation isn’t simply a buzz-word for the industry but is a very important factor for event organisers and marketers to consider as they look to refine their messaging and tactics to attract attendees – and keep them coming back for future events. For some organisers, this could mean taking a long hard look at traditional formats and discarding the ‘one size fits all’ approach. Getting inside the mindset of the attendee and creating more personalised experiences will mean the needs of attendees are better addressed, which typically means higher attendee satisfaction, growth in event attendance, and a greater return on investment.”
Read the complete Inside the Mind of the Attendee study to get deeper inside the mind of the event attendee