Back to the Future

Research from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research suggests that planners go “back to the future” when integrating technology into event marketing. Specifically, the report suggests that the website is still the most important digital channel to help attendees decide whether to attend an event.

Pity the Poor Website

Back in the day of digital dawning, the website was the only way meeting planners knew to communicate on the mysterious internet playground that had morphed into existence. To advertise its existence and lure attendees to its offerings any event worth its salt needed to display its own website. Website wars ensued, and everybody was jousting with “key words” and “algorithms” to get on Google’s first page.


But then we discovered the power of email and put all our attention to designing intrusive and pointed email campaigns while letting the old website go stale on the shelf.


Too many emails later, we unleashed the power of the text message and our websites drifted even closer to their “sell-by” date. We started to talk directly to potential attendees in real-time, and the cyber geeks aided and abetted our intrusive violations of society’s last shreds of privacy.


How about perpetually telling your story to an unwitting audience that somehow thinks they are telling you their story? The Facebook Faustian bargain of “if you let me show off, I’ll watch you show off” was struck by almost everyone. In this animated world of bragging rights, websites went stale, stiff, almost moribund.


Texting? Facebooking? Too cumbersome. Here’s a dedicated cyber track that lets you talk to potential attendees in only 140 characters. Now that’s getting down to business. We all started “tweeting” one another and eventually came to the conclusion that if Trump could run the entire United States of America with only 140 characters, we could easily promote our events the same way.

Back to the Future

But, The Focus Report on Organizer Pre-event Communications and Registration Offerings tells a different cautionary tale. It tells us that fully 75% of potential attendees still prefer to use an event website to make event attendance decisions, and the most common digital devices used to register are desktop and laptop computers. Only 15% use mobile devices.

The report also goes on to say that attendees are inclined to register for events on websites that offer them:

  1. The ability to review and register for conference sessions
  2. Access to an interactive floor map
  3. A searchable exhibitor directory
  4. Ability to make hotel reservations
  5. Downloadable speaker presentations
  6. The ability to see products based on their own profile
  7. Promotions and special prices for attendees
  8. A searchable attendee directory
  9. The ability to download attendee information

In addition, the study found that 55% of returning attendees want their registration form on the website to pre-populate with information from the last time they attended. Also, a majority of attendees prefer, but are not offered by most organizers, the ability to print badges in advance from the event website.

The study concluded that by offering a wide array of services, the well-designed website is still the digital channel preferred by a majority of new and returning attendees. Don’t neglect your event’s “old faithful” website. It is still serving you well.

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