We've all been to “great events.” Experiences that leave you feeling energized and inspired long after you leave the venue. But, as we reflect on this past year we began to really think about the question “what actually makes an event great?”
We know from experience that it takes a lot more than following the agenda, sticking to the schedule, and getting all the logistics right. Those are essentials to running a hiccup-free event but those things don’t guarantee success.
So, we did a little experiment. We asked our team (because they attend a lot of events each year) what makes a great event so great? Their answers were incredibly interesting, not-so-surprising aligned, and downright poetic in some cases.
We’re excited to share what they had to say...
Events are only as great as the people that attend. The best events don't stop at getting the best people to attend - they work hard and are intentional about making sure there are lots of opportunities for those attendees to connect with each other.
Lawrence Coburn - Founder & CEO
The people you meet, the connections you make and the community movement you are a part of.
Christopher Haddow - Director, International
I'm thinking of this from a sales mindset...walking away with lots of new contacts and leads
Ian Suber - Enterprise Account Manager
A great event goes beyond streamlining logistics and focuses on creating memorable experiences for the attendees.
Lindsey Stevens - Enterprise Account Executive
When you use technology to shape and facilitate the event instead of using the event to plan your technology.
Ashley Phelps - Team Lead, Customer Experiences
A great event is one where everyone walks away feeling a true sense of accomplishment because they got what they came for. In reality, most events don’t deliver on their promises to everyone involved. One unifying goal for all event stakeholders is authentic human connection. Without that, sponsors don’t acquire the right leads, attendees don’t meet the right people, speakers feel their talk tracks weren’t well received, and organizers are left with subpar feedback from all. A good event maximizes the potential that the right human connections are made.
Taylor McLoughlin - Director of Marketing
A great event is dummy proof - attendees know where to go, they know what to do and all their focus can be on strategizing, learning, and networking. It’s also an integrated experience, an attendees digital experience is merged into "real life" and virtual relationships become real-life partnerships. Speakers are engaged with the audience, their content is relevant and they're using tech to keep users engaged. Event staff is hip and with it - they've been briefed on onsite logistics and the tech experience - if they don't know an answer they know where to quickly find it (maybe it's in the app).
Zola Zermeño - Customer Experience Manager
The things that last even after it [the event] has ended. Relationships, education, personal growth, etc. We call critical moments in our lives events because they're occurrences profound enough to change behaviors or perspectives, moments that affect us beyond their timespan. Conferences, meetings, etc. should be no different.
Christopher Santoro - Enterprise Account Executive
When I come away feeling that I went through an immense experience with newfound friends. Also, when I leave with new insights I can apply as soon as I get back to the office.
Marta Kazberuk - Director of Product
A great event leaves me feeling so inspired through new connections and content that it's as if a fire was lit within me.
Jackie Roberts - Global Director of Employee Engagement
The #1 reason people come to events is to make connections. Live experiences that are thoughtfully designed to break down walls, build trust, and create meaningful connections are the future of the events industry.
Diana Rau - VP of Growth
What makes every event great is that makes you feel energized: no matter if it is an internal event that helps you bond with your colleagues and discover a new face of your company, a trade fair that brings new business and networking opportunities, or a specialty convention that offers you new learning opportunities, you should always go home and feel your energy renewed.
Mario Savi - Customer Experience Team Lead
As an event software professional, I’ve attended many types and styles of events. What makes an event go from average to GREAT is when attendees walk away having met new people and learned new thought-provoking ideas that will propel their personal or professional development forward.
Steffi Scheid - Global Account Director
Let's boil that down...
Most of our team’s perceptions of what makes a great event include feelings and experiences, and opportunities to connect with other people. The value is really in the relationships built at an event, and the moments that attendees experience along the way.
At DoubleDutch, our customers create some of the greatest events in their industries. We've noticed three recurring themes emerge in what they do to make an event stand-out and connect attendees:
First they power their events with a best-in-class integrated, event tech stack that puts experiences first.
They create superb opportunities for networking and connecting with others, and focus on attendee engagement throughout the entire event (pre, during and post event)
They plan and design cutting-edge content that creates a memorable experience and draws in the types of attendees that others really want to connect with.
Use a powerful event tech stack
Your event tech starts influencing the event experience long before your event begins.
Upon registering is your first chance to make a lasting impression on attendees -- make sure that your pre-event marketing is personalized and seamless. That means a hiccup-free attendee on-boarding experience, badging and check-in experiences that rock with attention paid to the details.
Push adoption of your event app long before the event doors open as well. Given that most attendees attend events to connect with like-minded folks or to make important business contacts, your app becomes an indispensable piece of tech that helps them realize their professional goals.
Create an event technology strategy that fits with your unique business goals and be sure to always put the attendee first when making vender selections.Create superb networking and community-building opportunities
"Opportunity" is one theme our team identified in what makes great events great.
Offering your attendees a networking-friendly app is a great starting point. Focus on getting people to interact with one another as opposed to simply sharing static content, and presenting to an audience.
A great way to boost networking at your event is to gamify the experience. Get create. Ask your attendees to exchange business cards with everyone they interact with and then reward the one who collects the most cards, or initiate gamified happy hours at designated time. Whatever it takes to pull people out of their shells and make connecting easier.
You can also keep a lot of slots on your agenda for "free time" or coffee breaks to give your attendees the time they need to connect meaningfully.
To keep the engagement going even after the event is over, encourage your attendees to join your social media pages and join the event community, or to re-vist the event app long after the event is over. By building and encouraging a sense of community in your attendees, you can get them to connect at a deeper level than just becoming business contacts.
Cutting-edge content and event design
After networking, "experience" is one of the most common reasons for which people attend conferences and events. Great events make sure that their agendas are jam-packed with original, useful, and unmissable content.
Develop a clear understanding of your event's goals and your target attendees' expectations. Then cater an experience that delivers on those expectations from start to finish.
Be intentional about what event technology you use and how you use it, put thought into building networking opportunities into your event, and make sure you are delivering an experience that exceeds the expectations of your attendees and you're sure to run a great event!