Technology-powered connections at events in the last year, whether
via Zoom, Microsoft Teams or other virtual event platforms, have been an
engagement enabler for the MICE industry.
As in-person events and social interaction make their return,
sustaining these online communities can help ensure event attendees are
engaged at every possible touchpoint.
Ling, vice president at Hong Kong-based TBA, part of Pico Group, says
that the key to engagement begins with the art of communication.
“Do you tease, do you bait, do you inspire – or if not, what? All
these tactics reach different target audiences,” he says. “Similarly,
empathy is required for you to understand how your target audience
really behaves. That is the true essence of engaging your attendees.”
Building an online community can help engender loyalty, keep people
coming back for more, and inspire ideas for future event content. It can
also be a useful way to reach out to potential keynote speakers, while
delegates can use the community to connect with other attendees too –
prior to or after the event.
A lasting impression
“Loyalty is what always
matters most, but it isn’t a reasoned thing – it’s built on intangibles,
on feelings and perceptions,” says Tay. “Cultivating loyalty is always
about touching the audience from a brand perspective on a deep level.
That can be through content or events which are all executions. A brand
is what others perceive it to be, not what you want to say.”
Too frequently, adds Tay, event managers focus on gimmicks and fads
that give a brand a short-term spike of interest – and everything then
falls flat. This is creating a trend rather than a loyal community and
trends come and go.
If you manage an annual one-off event, consider creating year-round
online touchpoints that can keep your audience engaged in the run-up to
and after the event. This could include surveys every two months, the
opportunity to suggest event content, an online forum with different
topics that people can post queries or suggestions, engaging a peer
group, or content that can be downloaded on demand.