Report: What Do Attendees Want from Your Events?

There you sit. Toiling away for months to make your next event the best one ever. You’ve lost sleep over new event tech and F&B spreadsheets. Driven your friends out of their minds with your unsolicited advice on “resource allocations” and “crowd management” for their kindergartners’ birthday parties. You’ve got a personal relationship with the pharmacist who provides your industrial-strength hive medication.

Yeah, you’re all in. You’re going to knock this event out of the park.

But hold it! What does it actually take to make this event the “best one ever”? How well do you really know your attendees and do you have a pulse on what matters most to them? Can Millennials, Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers all show up to the same event and leave happy? (Hint: yes).

To get to the bottom of these questions, CrowdCompass teamed up with Edelman Intelligence and surveyed 1,000 recent event attendees. We asked about what their event expectations were, what dazzled or disappointed them and what they actually took away from their favorite events. And you know what we found? There’s a lot going on in their minds.

Here, a sampling of random (heavily paraphrased) thought bubbles from the minds of some event attendees:

“4,354 people are here, and not one familiar face. I’ll just stand awkwardly in the corner by myself.”

“You mean to tell me I walked the equivalent of 14 football fields to get to this presentation and it’s full?!”

“Enough with the boring guest speakers. Tell me something I DON’T already know.”

“So…hungry. Where…is…food?”

It’s been confirmed: event attendees are people, too. They get frustrated, hungry and lost. They want to learn something new. And they’d really like it if they could locate a familiar face or two. In a session at Cvent CONNECT earlier this year, we tackled how event planners can use this research report to make key decisions about their next event. Some of the biggest factors standing between event planners and the best event ever boils down to these challenges:

Alleviating stress. It’s the common denominator among event and meeting attendees of all ages. It’s like the first day of school: Where do I go? Am I going to learn anything? Who will I sit with at lunch? Technology is your friend in this arena. Use it to ease the registration process, give real-time updates, suggest networking opportunities and create personalized event schedules.

Making it worth their while. Providing professional development opportunities is vital to attracting and satisfying audiences. It’s the reason most people register in the first place, and most need to be able to convince their employers that your event is worth their investment. High quality presentation materials, knowledgeable speakers, interactive sessions and networking events all combine to deliver the “wow” factor attendees seek. They told us so.

Communication and information. Here’s where you can really deliver. Fork over information to your registrants early and often. Use email, social media, industry publications and other avenues to share your message. More than 91% of Baby Boomers, 98% of Gen X-ers and 100% of Millennials have smart phones, so market the heck of the mobile app for your event (our study showed that 82% of people will download it if they know it’s available.)  Make sure your app is user friendly and includes things like maps, schedules and helpful updates. Give people the tools they need to navigate your event like a pro.

All the sweat you put into the details of your event matters. Sure it does. But by allotting time to address the stress inducers, plan out-of-this-world content and, most important, communicate with your attendees, your chances of evoking a random thought bubble like this….

“That was the best event ever. I can’t wait to come back next year!”

…are off the charts. And isn’t that what it’s all about?


Written by Cvent Guest