Mulligan Management Group, LLC

6 Tips To Get Association Attendees To Your Next Conference

Would this statistic startle you?

According to Associations Now, the largest association meeting only attracts 1/3 of its members.

Can that be right? That means, roughly 67% of your membership stays home on any given year. You couldn’t run a corporate business meeting with 1/3 of your staff there and I will content that good associations can’t either.

So what is the problem and how can you fix it? Last week, Kalahari ran a blog post about 7 ways to get people to your convention and while I will contend that all associations can utilize that advice, this blog will focus on the lifeblood of any association: its members.

Things You can do Before the Conference


Crowdsource Content


This is the way of the future for events and this process is becoming easier. There are many crowdsourcing tools available now, some for free others for fee, but the truth of the matter is: the more the attendee feels they can shape the conference agenda, the more likely they will attend the conference.

Abandon committees and calls for presentations. Your MEMBERS know what they want to hear and who they want to hear from. Let them have their say.


Offer a one-of-a-kind experience


One of the ways to do this, is to go to a unique location that can offer a professional conference feel and can integrate fun into the attendee experience. If there are enough things to do onsite or nearby, the attendee may wish to bring their family to your event.

Whatever you do, try and stand out from other association meetings and from the ones you have held in the past.

Bother with Buzz


There are many ways to do this including asking your speakers for a 2-minute video clip of their presentation and pushing that content to social, creating a special content calendar with many testimonials on your website and social channels and driving support within your media circles.

Whatever it is, try different medium and messaging to include and pique interest about your conference. The old ways of direct mail and email blasts are not completely dead, but you can’t rely on one media to create the kind of enthusiasm you want for your conference.


At the Conference


Bring into Play Anything Local


When attendees travel to a new destination (or haven’t been there for a long time), they appreciate any local food, beverages, entertainment, attractions and customs you can weave into the conference. Every region of the world has their own special feel. Hype it up and tell attendees your story so they will remember it the next time they come to your event.


Play with the Room Setup


Rather than having the same boring set up, consider shaking it up – at least in breakout rooms. Bring in couches, cushy chairs and/or bean bag chairs. Get rid of the tables and put people in circles. Set chairs up on angles so attendees can easily see each other.


Make sure to Ask for Feedback


Without a doubt, your members have opinions about your conference from the meeting room temperature to your speaker selection. Let them tell you what they like and what they don’t.

Be prepared to course correct and show association members you care and are listening to their wants and needs. 

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