Nobody wants their professional event to be forgotten in a hurry, especially after all the hard work you put into preparing it. Perhaps it was a conference that lasted a few days, or a single talk to a group of employees. No matter the scale of the event, there are some surefire ways to retain engagement in the months after it ends.

Here at Guild, we have already taken a look at how to prepare the best conference possible. Taking things one step further and assessing how you can create long-lasting communities from these conferences, will help you realise a larger ROI on your events than you thought possible.

Making use of online presence

As covered in our previous article, social media’s everlasting backlog of posts and messages makes it a key battleground for community building. If you can incorporate a hashtag into your event, like #GuildConference2019, this immediately becomes a searchable topic for attendees on social media.

When the event is over, many people might want to discuss and reflect on what they have learned in their own time, with fellow attendees. The first step is to give them a hashtag, but in order to provide them with a platform for sharing their thoughts, consider giving them a private, professional group in which to do so. Providing a platform for sharing and discussion will encourage year-round engagement and return attendance.

Another online tactic you can use is email marketing. If you can gather the email addresses of relevant parties, treat this information like gold dust. Sending e-blasts out to a group of people who are all interested in your conference’s topic is an extremely effective way to capture their interest and put your brand and its events at the front of their minds. Be sure to remind them of the groups you’re running post-event to ensure effective ongoing networking – they will find great value in this.

How to retain interest for future events

Aside from creating online communities related to your events, what else can you do to maximise the chances of attendees and speakers alike feeling engaged enough to return for successive meetings?

  • Instead of feeling like you must organise company-wide or large scale events to gain momentum, you can do so with much smaller meetings. Perhaps, after a previous event, an email list with several attendees was formed. The members could all be invited to a one-day meet-up where things are kept pretty informal. This is a great way of encouraging continued interest in the group, and a bigger chance of getting more people to your next large event.
  • What makes your event a blast? High quality speakers. Look after your event’s speakers and they will be more inclined towards a repeat performance. Provide them with welcome packs just like the other attendees, and take away any potential hassles such as faulty presentation technology. Another important reason that speakers attend events is to network with other speakers and attendees. Facilitate this by providing some time for your event’s speakers to connect with each other in a relaxed setting.
  • Nurture your online communities before offering them another chance to connect with your events. Perhaps you have curated a group of attendees and they are all part of a Guild group - make sure you regularly feed them engaging content that relates to your key topics. After this, you can hit them with options for attending your next event.

You will appear much more thoughtful if you offer different ticket types depending on a person’s needs. These could include:

1. Full event tickets: These grant attendees access to every speech, all networking opportunities, workshops and online post-event materials.

2. Creator tickets: These tickets can be tailored to influencers and bloggers who might want to take home key ideas from the speeches in order to create content. They could also have access to networking areas in order to obtain quotes from attendees and speakers alike.

3. Virtual tickets: This can encourage remote workers, or people who simply can’t make the date, to attend. They may have access to recorded seminars and talks, and online communities created after the event.

By following some of the examples above, you can be assured of a higher ROI when it comes to putting on conferences and meetings. Working to keep members and brand ambassadors engaged long after an event is over, is key to scoring repeat attendances.