What Event Planners Can Learn from Amazon

By Libby Hoppe, November 18, 2013

Is there anything Amazon won’t try? The worldwide ecommerce company is now working with the embattled U.S. Postal Service testing out Sunday deliveries for preferred Amazon Prime customers. It’s the latest experiment in the company’s successful string of innovative initiatives. At BizBash IdeaFest in Chicago, Brian Rothenberg, senior director of marketing for Eventbrite, discussed four ways event planners can apply some of Amazon’s most thoughtful and strategic business practices to approve the event planning process. He says, like Amazon, event planners should:

1. Understand seasonality. It didn’t take long for Amazon to learn that the pre-holiday months of November and December were the busiest for the company, but that meant that customers needed incentives during the 10 other months during the year to shop. Amazon responded by creating a number of special programs and exclusive buys during less busy months, and capitalized on consumer buying power in November and December. Event planners need to know when attendees are likely to register (in the months leading up to an event), but also create incentives for registration—whether it’s a giveaway or reduced rate—for slower times during the planning cycle.

2. Obsess over conversion. Amazon executives focused a lot of energy on conversion. Of the people who come to the site, who actually purchases a product? And why? Are they finding better products or deals elsewhere? Planners, you need to study attendee behavior like it’s consumer behavior. How many people look into attending your event, and how many people actually register? Are they getting lost on your site? “Put the primary event information and a call-to-action in upper left-hand corner of your website,” Rothenberg recommends.

3. Understand your performance. “Set a calendar to review how you’re performing. It can be as little as 10 minutes a week,” Rothenberg says. Amazon continually examines its new initiatives, and—like most good companies—adjusts, changes, tweaks and improves ideas while they’re being implemented so they don’t become failures.

4. Relentlessly focus on customer experience. At the core of Amazon’s business model is the idea that the customer comes first—always. If you made all your event decisions based on how it will affect attendee experience (rather than budget or bottom line), would your next event look or feel any different?

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