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Several elephants standing around a table outside

Why Experiences Matter and How You Can Create a Great One!

The picture with elephants surrounding a set table made me laugh.  If you attended an event and elephants suddenly appeared, would you remember that?  My bet is that you would remember!

While this article is written with event experiences in mind, it also applies to creating the right customer or client experience.  In addition to both online and in person event strategy planning, I have consulted with many businesses to help them in creating the right customer experience.  Why?  Because experiences matter.

The Bad Experience Effect

Take a moment to think about this.  Have you ever had a bad “experience”? In my 20 plus years in both attending and creating events, I have had way more than my share of bad experiences.  It is one of the reasons why having a great experience for your audience is one of my key event planning strategies.  I have found that when you have a bad experience the focus moves away from the purpose of the event to what is so bad about the event and what you did not like about it.  Here are some common things that can lead to a bad experience that I have personally witnessed:

  • Temperature of the venue – whether it is too hot or too cold
  • Bad food – overuse of “banquet chicken” is a common problem
  • Poor audio/sound – when you cannot hear the presenter
  • Poor registration/management of audience upon arrival – long lines, too long of time with nothing to do before the program begins
  • Disappointment with what the audience received vs what they paid for –     poor value

Not only will your customers or clients no longer pay attention to the purpose of the event, they will share with everyone they know after the event how bad it was.  They will most likely not come back and may move to a competitor’s products or services.

No matter how much you spent to put on the event, no matter the amount of time, effort and stress it took you to put together and manage all the moving pieces of an event – your event will not have the impact that you want and even have a negative impact if your audience has a bad experience.  Who can afford that to happen?

Why the Right Experience Matters?

Now on the other hand, if your customers or clients had a great experience they will definitely want to attend again, they will share about this with others (word of mouth and social media!), they will be more focused on the purpose of the event and they will more likely purchase your product or services from you and they will remember you and your company/brand in a positive way.  This is one of the most important reasons of a great experience – you want to be remembered!

As you can see, having the right experience does matter.  It can help you build your brand and business faster than you ever thought was possible.

How You Can Create a Great Experience

There is no cookie cutter approach to creating an event with a great experience since they need to be customized to your business and your purpose to be able to have the greatest impact and to get the best return on investment results.

However, in working with different businesses in creating their events, I have had the most success in also creating a great experience if the following three things are planned into and are part of the event:

  1. Interaction between people who are attending. This starts immediately at registration.  You need to plan for a smooth registration, you may want to have nametags with different information/identification of people to encourage conversation, you may want to have activities planned to get people to meet and talk with one another, strategic use of greeters to help facilitate and it may make sense to have ice breakers planned.  You want people who are attending your event to feel welcome, comfortable and not alone.
  2. Engagement with the event. Keeping your audience involved in your event will keep their interest and enjoyment high.  You can include Q & A session with presenters or a panel, you can have them sign up to win prizes and you can build the program to have a high level of audience participation.
  3. Stimulate all the Five Senses with your event. This helps to create an elevated experience and makes it more memorable.
    • Stimulate your Eyes/Sight with a good choice of venue and/or use of décor, lighting and other props (like the elephants in the picture).
    • Stimulate your Ears/Hearing with a good audio system and possibly nice music or entertainment.
    • Stimulate your Nose/Smell with a nice pleasant scent or the smell of delicious food.
    • Stimulate your Mouth/Taste with good food and beverage. I have found that it is better to have high quality food than abundance of less quality.
    • Stimulate Touch by use of materials such as nice touch fabrics and fine dinnerware or cutlery, encourage human connection (in a safe way) and include ways for your audience to use their hands such as taking notes or typing on a keypad.

In summary, think of ways from your audience’s point of view to elevate your event to create the best experience possible with interaction, engagement and by stimulating all the senses.  The power of having an event helps you to build your business and brand but if a good experience is not created you will not get the impact and return on your investment from the event that you are looking for.  Experiences do matter and it is worth the extra effort to create a great one.

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