There’s nothing we love better than early bird registrants for our events. But how do you keep them engaged between registration and opening reception to make sure they actually attend?
If your event is free or low cost, or you have a lenient cancellation policy, you may be accustomed to low verification rates — which means that large numbers of registrants don’t show up. There are several ways to keep your registrants excited and prepared for the event so that their participation proves to be fruitful and productive, and they return for next year’s show.
Stay in touch. People are busy and they can easily forget something they signed up for months ago; “out of sight, out of mind” is a cliché for a reason. It’s important to maintain consistent communication so registrants don’t miss the opportunity they were drawn to initially. However you choose to connect — email, text, social media — make sure there’s a steady cadence to keep your event top of mind for them. This doesn’t have to be a big lift: When you send an email to prospects with news about education or speakers, make an alternate version of that email for the registrants and send it simultaneously. The International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE) aligned their verification email campaign with their prospecting campaign in 2022, and their verification rates were 15 points higher than the industry average for that quarter.
Do the legwork for them. There is a lot for attendees to do before they get to an event: booking travel and hotel, setting up meetings, choosing sessions and networking receptions, picking outfits, etc. Take some of the load off the registrants by coordinating curated experiences that have preset schedules depending on their area of interest. The NAB Show found increased engagement when they did this for their 2022 event, with specialized attendee journeys for business, technical, creative or future-focused content.
Build FOMO. Reminding registrants who and what they will miss by not coming can be a strong emotional appeal to their fear of missing out. Keep them updated on keynote speaker announcements, big names and organizations attending, and any other changes to the schedule. This also encourages them to check the website for event news.
Upsell, upsell, upsell! When the initial financial investment to register for the show is minimal, this is especially useful. By getting registrants to sign up for education, local tours and other special add-ons, you increase their commitment and their likelihood of attending.
Giving registrants more specifics to look forward to, like speakers, special events, a set plan, will build their enthusiasm and anticipation for the show and ensure their experience is fulfilling. Raise the stakes for them by helping them understand what they’ll lose by staying home, whether it’s potential connections or the extra money they spent on add-ons. The most important thing to keep in mind is that they signed up for a reason — you just need to remind them what that was.