“Big Data” sits at the heart of everything we do these days without us even thinking about it. In every aspect of my life, my experiences are personalised to my preferences without a conscious effort on my part. My favourite supermarket knows which products I buy and sends me offers accordingly. Google continually tempts me with shoes and clothing, which reflect my latest searches and even subtly echoes the charities which are close to my heart in the content I see.
It’s surprising to me that when event planners are developing their events, they start by focusing on where the event takes place, the venue and what they think the content should be without looking to tailor the experience to their attendees’ likes and preferences. Surely the event should be about the people first rather than the place?
The science behind the experience
Perhaps it’s about time we elevate our event planning by applying a more scientific approach to building the delegate experience. After all there is a wealth of data available to us if we have incorporated the right methodology in our planning. Certainly, the huge growth in virtual events over the past 18 months has given us insights into delegate behaviour like never before through the technology available. This is without doubt a gold mine for event planners to create better events that really deliver against their objectives.
Knowledge is Power
The data from events is incredibly powerful stuff and provides a window into the success of your programme. By extracting the knowledge and insights into what people firstly expect and then later enjoyed the most about your event, it allows you to shape your content and structure and therefore customise their experience.
Data science is being used every day in many industry sectors to address business problems and can just as easily be applied to meetings and events to help meet specific objectives and measure ROI.
For example, for one of our major clients, networking was their number one objective. They were keen to maximise engagement with their audience and truly understand their attendee groups along with their likes and dislikes well in advance of the live event.
From the very start of the delegate journey, the audience was profiled to allow us to identify shared interests and expectations which facilitated better networking (think similar to online dating) which could begin right from the point of registration. This in turn helped the organisers shape their content and structure their agenda because they understood what their audience was looking for from the event experience.
It also allowed us to personalise communications and subsequently suggest their preferred event track, once the agenda had been developed, with recommended plenary and workshop sessions. This was firmly rooted in the data and what we knew about them well in advance of the experience taking place. Using a combination of targeted data collection throughout the delegate journey and cutting-edge onsite technology, we were able to collect and amalgamate intelligence, which provided valuable insight into their audience segmentation from start to finish.
From other precious data harvested once the event went live, we were able to provide insight into which zones were accessed by whom and how long they stayed there; which networking areas were most used when connecting with others, who was more likely to connect with whom and the personal traits driving connection (profile, interests, nationality etc).
We were also able to apply the tracking to sessions and streams to establish who had attended, whether they had connected and what they had enjoyed and found most beneficial about the experience.
Structuring all of this as part of the event planning and execution allowed us to truly understand what was driving behaviours in over 20 audience segments. For the event planners, this is invaluable for future as well as understanding what works most effectively for their current event. It informs what can be fine-tuned going forward to make it even more meaningful and personalised to individuals. In particular, it helps how we approach our communication planning and engagement strategy to improve their future experiences.
Just like your personal interactions with many of the service providers or retailers in your life, we are able to create communications specifically relevant to different delegate types based on our actual knowledge of their personal preferences. We all know the more personalised the experience, the more engaged the audience will be.
By gaining feedback at every stage of the delegate journey you can also gain insight into whether people’s expectations of the event are met and measure general satisfaction. Here at The Collective at BCD, it’s the science behind the experiences that allows us to build on a real foundation of what we actually know, not just what we might think or feel about the audience.
All in all, these data insights are gold dust and an invaluable way to ensure your event business goals are met and your audience is truly engaged by meaningful, personalised, engaging experiences.