Getting VIPs to attend your event has its perks all right, but getting them to tick ‘Yes’ on your invite can be quite a task in itself. And even if they attend your event once, there’s no telling if they would come again.
Here are a few tips to attract VIP attendees to your events and keep them coming back again and again:
Research: Find out as much as you can about your VIP guests. If they have attended your events in the past, find out if they expressed interest in any special sessions. Did they prefer power lunches over high tea? Or are they more likely to attend evening cocktail parties or galas? What caught their attention and what seemed to tick them off? Data like this will help you plan for a more VIP-friendly event.
Entice: Make sure your event has something to offer as an interesting or unique draw to your VIP guests. You could offer them the chance to sell their book, CD, etc. at the event. You might also draw attention to their attendance with media coverage and it would provide great publicity if they attend. You could also try hosting the event in a very desirable or exotic locale.
Respect their time: VIP guests are usually busy professionals and might need to do business while running in and out of sessions. If they are attending as a speaker, they’ll appreciate being offered a ‘green room’ close to session rooms where they can quietly get their work done and take conference or phone calls without being disturbed. You could also reserve some seating for them to attend popular keynotes.
Substance over swag: Experiences matter more than free stuff to most event attendees. VIPs want to gain knowledge that makes their jobs easier, they want to forge new connections, network with other VIPs and, more than anything, they want new business leads. Consider allocating a separate space at your event venue for such VIP networking sessions, like an executive dinner or hosting a VIP-only welcome session.
Go all out: VIP guests hold an important place at your event and, therefore, require extra attention. Which means, shelling out a few extra pounds to arrange a special meal at a great restaurant or an outing for them would go a long way. Also, be sure to take special care of any requests they may have, such as specific meals or drinks etc. You may also consider giving them an option to bring their spouses or family members with them.
Swag: Choose give-aways for your VIP carefully; you may not want to gift your special guests something they don’t have any use for. A great give-away should not only be useful but should also remind your guest about who gave it to them. If in doubt, consider skipping gifts altogether. You could just offer to donate a small sum to your VIP guest’s favourite charity.
Thank them: Send handwritten letters or personalised emails to your VIP guests thanking them for attending the event. If you have a large group, you could tweet them thanks instead. You could also encourage your staff members and volunteers to write thank you notes for them.
All of this may require some preparation and time, but it is totally worth the trouble to invite VIPs to your events as they attract both audience and revenue to events, and help boost the overall attendee experience.