How to plan an engaging face-to-face event your customers will remember

Covid is now starting to feel like a distant memory and, after two long years of lockdowns and restrictions, travel and events are finally back on the agenda – goodbye webinars, hello face-to-face!

In person events have been enjoying a steady comeback in the past year, and being unable to attend such events has, in many ways, shown the real importance and value of in-person events in enabling us to connect, share ideas and generate new business opportunities.

It’s not all a bed of roses though. The tough economic climate means companies are more reluctant to let their staff head out to events and, with so much demand on people’s time and attention, people need a good excuse to leave their office (I mean house!).

That means there’s increased focus on offering something truly worthwhile, valuable and exciting to attendees (which we would argue should always have been the focus, anyway!)

Planning such an event, however, can be a daunting task, particularly if you’re new to the task.

6 success factors to consider for a success event

If you’re about to start planning your very first event, but don’t know where to start, we’ve got some pointers.

1. Think about your target audience

Before you can start crossing things off the to-do list, you need to clearly define your target audience – are you targeting B2B or B2C for example? Those from small businesses, or large enterprises? Business owners and CEOs or frontline workers?

Knowing exactly who you are targeting will enable you to identify what best suits them – from the location and type of event, even the timing, to topics and how you’ll market the event, ensuring the messaging resonates with the invitees – making it more likely they’ll accept the invitation. Everything flows on from knowing who exactly your target audience is: The more you understand your audience, the better you can plan successful brand activation.

Creating a ‘delegate persona’ is one method, advocated by The University of Birmingham, which says delegate persona’s can have benefits before, during and after an event. The University team outline how to create a person here.

2. Introduce a theme

Think themes are just for children’s birthday parties? Think again. We’ve all nearly fallen asleep sitting in a stuffy, bland conference room listening to a speaker drone on endlessly with their 500-slide presentation.

You want your event to be remembered, talked about to encourage further event engagement, even shared – not instantly forgotten, or worse, remembered as ‘that conference where they locked us in a room for hours on end’.

Introducing a theme for your event enables you to bring the event to life, but also to showcase your business’ personality and create an immersive and memorable experience, sharing information in a playful, fun way.

Check out these unforgettable corporate event themes.

3. Choose the right venue

That old adage of ‘location, location, location’ applies equally to event planning.

The venue sets the tone for your event and has a massive impact on the experience for your attendees, but it’s also a practical consideration. How big a venue do you need? If you’re only planning to have a small number of attendees, are you aiming for an intimate, cosy event – say in a private room at a restaurant – or something more formal? Do you want guests to have an opportunity to circulate?

You also need to consider convenience for your guests – is the venue easy to get to and with ample parking? For longer events, selecting a venue that’s a destination in itself can make for a more memorable event.

What about food and drink options at the venue? Does it have a good audio-visual set up if you need it?

Start your venue search with Venues or The Fresh Collective, helping you find the right venue that matches your needs.

4. Make sure you have engaging content

Remember that stuffy conference room and attendees struggling to stay awake? Engaging content is crucial, and audience participation will also help keep their attention.

If you took our first point of knowing your target audience to heart, you’re already well placed to create relevant and valuable content for the event, but there are plenty of other ways to ensure your audience is engaged.

Video can help tell your story in a vibrant, engaging way – and make a change from listening to speakers. The right video can create an emotional connection with the audience, sparking excitement and inspiring action (bonus – the video can be repurposed for marketing material as well).

Use Social media for content creation at live events – live events provide opportunities for generating valuable content that will engage your attendees, create a sense of community and extend the life cycle of your event. Take a look at some ideas for creating content creation at live events.

Involve the audience with a Q&A session or through use of technology, for example for polls, to ask questions or to share content via social media. Offer prizes to increase the fun. Include a networking component in your event to ensure everyone can maximise the face-to-face opportunity and catch up with others.

Check out some more tips on how to create engaging content for virtual events –which apply equally well to live events.

5. Add a guest speaker or celebrity host

Sometimes the big name is what really gets an event buzzing.  Bring in a well-recognised industry expert or personality that indirectly relates to your event topic or theme.

People feel aligned to someone they recognise and feel excited to be in the same room as them.

You can also think about introducing a celebrity MC that help you hold a room and command attention!

6. Leave it to the experts!

There’s a lot of planning and administration that goes into good event planning and it’s not for everyone. If you’d rather not invest the time and energy required, consider leaving it to the experts, like Gratifii, who have years of experience under their belt, love planning and have plenty of innovative ideas to make your event a real success, so you can sit back and enjoy yourself.

Overall, the key to creating an engaging event is to focus on your customers’ interests and needs, and to provide them with a fun and memorable experience.

If you have any specific questions or ideas for your event and would like some help, give Gratifii a call.