This year's annual event is over and after the post-con with your suppliers and seeing the last attendee off the premises, you fly home and sleep for hours on end. When you arrive back to the office the next business day totally refreshed, you start the process of planning next year's event — all over again. 

But are you giving any thought to whether or not your attendees will come back again next year? If you have never considered this, chew on this fact: It takes a whole lot of energy, time and resources getting a new attendee versus keeping an existing one. 

"It takes $10 of new business to replace $1 of lost business," said business consultant Grace Butland.  She also points out that since businesses typically lose 15-20% of their customers each year and if those defections can be cut by 50%, you've more than doubled your company's growth rate.

So what can you do to keep existing attendees coming back? Follow these 8 tips to bring them back every time:

  1. Have a peer review of your digital communications. It is so easy to send off an email, post something to Facebook, or tweet about your upcoming event. BUT is your communication welcoming, personalized, and warm? Have 5 or 10 individuals in the organization periodically review all communications and make suggestions for improvement along the way. 
  2. Create a corporate culture where employees and volunteers feel "part of the family". All event meeting services employees and volunteers, at every level of your organization, are your best salespersons. If they are happy and feel appreciated, they will make sure the attendee feels the same.
  3. Hire individuals for their attitude. Happy, helpful people can learn your systems and procedures but individuals who have a black cloud lingering over their head or complain about every little thing, can suck the energy out of the conference. 
  4. Have something for everyone. When working with your conference services team, consider crowdsourcing your speakers, agenda, and event location. Providing content for the novice, intermediate, and advanced learner will be key as to whether or not they will return.  
  5. Make a good first impression. When attendees are checking into the conference, make certain all frontline staff and volunteers say hello, smile, and have that positive attitude. Remember, first impressions are often formed in 10 seconds…so make it count! Consider a mentoring program for new attendees, have the CEO and senior staff check guests in or start out with a great icebreaker event. 
  6. Show appreciation to the attendee — all along the way. Thank them for coming to the event at the beginning when they register, in the middle at keynote sessions, and at the close.
  7. Address questions, comments, and complaints as quickly as possible. Rent iPads for attendees, staff, and volunteers, create a Twitter hashtag and encourage individuals to reach out and let their voice be heard. As the event organizer, respond to the comment  immediately and let them know when you will get back to them with an answer or resolution. 
  8. Measure attendee satisfaction levels, willingness to recommend this event to others, and likelihood they will come back next year. By using wireless Audience Response Systems, you can gage quickly and anonymously the attendees level of satisfaction. Ask the tough questions and be prepared for the honest truth. Knowing the issues and then addressing them in a timely fashion, can show attendees you care enough to make things right. 

AV Event Solutions, a California meeting equipment provider, works with event organizers throughout the United States to make certain their event comes off without a hitch! Contact them today to find out more about their unique AV service offerings!