Boost association annual conference attendance

Embassy Suites in Rogers is perfect place for your next meeting, with plenty of room for a small board or staff meeting, or a larger company meeting or convention

The classic strategies to increase your conference attendance are well known: Great keynote, common-sense locations for your membership base, informative and interesting breakouts, and a rock-solid marketing plan. What if you already you already deliver in these critical areas? What else can you do?

1. Let your members do the work.

Does your association currently incentivize members to invite non-members or find first-time attendees? Ask members how they were introduced to an association. Chances are that friends, bosses or colleagues paved the way to introduction. My previous boss triggered my own interest to a professional trade association, and I’ve been an active member ever since and witnessed the education value and peer connection. Your members can draw from existing relationships to find new attendees and potential new members.

According to an ASAE study, the most effective referral program rewards were consistently tangible and individual: gift cards, discounted registration, exclusive raffle (program participants), free/discounted registration for a future event and membership discounts.

2. Get your attendees invested in the conference.

You do a post-event survey for attendee feedback, but what is your pre-event engagement? Crowdsourcing is a newer idea that has begun to catch on in the association world. Sent out a poll to prospective attendees and allow them to make decisions or have input on the planning process. The poll can be as simple as selecting banquet food and beverage options. Utilize a free service such as Survey Monkey to make the process simple and budget friendly.

3. Pre-conference email blast click-through rates leave something to be desired?

A report by eMarketer shows an average adult American watches 76 minutes of daily digital video, with more than five hours watching any and all types of video. Why can’ t your conference information be a 30-to-60 second piece of that time? Email that contains video has substantially higher click-through rates—96.4 percent—and a 5.6 percent higher open rate, according to GetResponse. Another study, this one by Experian, shows emails merely with the word “video” in the subject line are opened 7 percent more frequently.

While it is best to hire a professional production company, not all budgets allow for that luxury. Creating video on your own has never been easier, nor quicker. Take a phone and a laptop, and even the most un-savvy person can shoot and edit video. Shoot phone video, upload to the free Windows Movie Maker or Apple iMovie programs for edits, post to YouTube and embed the video into a pre-conference email blast. This type of video also works great on social media channels.

If you find that email blasts are ineffective or that people are not reading the information, it may be time to try a quick video. A prospective attendee may be more likely to pay attention to an email if the board president or executive director’s face is on an embedded video in the email blast.

If you have any questions about any of these ideas, I encourage you to reach out to me or check out one of the additional resources below.

Luke Wiggins, Meetings & Conventions Sales Manager, Visit Rogers. 479-619-3191


How to Implement Crowdsourcing at Your Events

Increase Registration Conversion Rates in Three Simple Steps

Do Emails With Video Have Higher Open Rates?

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