Customization can take an event from good to great, making participants feel as if the gathering was designed specifically with them in mind. Personalization can turn participants into loyal followers who can’t wait to talk about your event with their friends and networks.
In smaller groups, the opportunities to customize are plentiful. At an intimate Plywood People retreat I attended recently, the dozen of us who participated filled out an introductory application and had conversations with the organizers ahead of time. This allowed the planners to hear our goals and tailor the experience to our individual needs. It equipped the planners to choose speakers on niche topics—such as how to select board members and best practices for raising capital. The agenda also included individual mentor dinners where we were paired with another diner who could offer advice about our specific business. In fact, making introductions is one of the Plywood founder’s priorities, so the staff spends days making email introductions between attendees prior to its annual conference of 1,000 people.
Offering multiple specialized breakouts for attendees to choose from is not always feasible at larger gatherings. Catalyst conference planners have made the big event feel intimate by coordinating networking meet-ups for bloggers at coffee shops near the event venue. Seeking input from participants about their preferences on the front end is another avenue for customization. You can issue surveys or post online polls to gauge interest in potential speakers, topics or food choices.
At Orange events, 11 wristbands of different colors each represent a specific ministry area (such as marriage or middle school), and participants can wear up to three wristbands to visually announce their involvement at the event. This allows attendees to spot those who work in their field or in other fields they’d like to explore. Devising opportunities like these for attendees to find people they want to meet at your event can check a big item off their wish list.
Any time you’re able to include custom elements in your event, attendees will feel more acknowledged and appreciated for being there. We all love a little personal attention, and the ways you can communicate that will create value and loyalty.