By Samantha Stallard, Director of Marketing & Business Development
Guest-focused experiential activations aren't within the realm of traditional event marketing — a pop-up museum or an exclusive, invite-only dinner aren't produced the same way as sampling events or sponsorships. They require more strategy, creativity, planning, and focus on the guest experience. Whether you are producing an intimate concert for 20 lucky fans or celebrity packed golf tournament with five levels of VIPs, the guest experience is the epicenter of your event.
The Concierge.com team gets to work months before an event begins, consulting with our clients on how to produce a guest-first experience, by:
- Sourcing and managing hotels and venues for guests, staff, VIPs, and contest winners, then negotiating rates and contracts; as well as airfare, ground transportation, local staffing, and local vendors
- Procuring and organizing all tickets, credentials, and itineraries for guest pick-up
- Managing on-site check-in and customer service desks
- Providing on-demand concierge services for guests
- Assisting with arrival and departures at each event
Needless to say, we know what your guests want, what your guests need, and how you, the producer, can make your life easier on event day, by freeing up your time to focus on execution. Check out four guest management mistakes you don't even know you're making, and how to fix them, below:
1. Not sharing enough information with guests
As event professionals, we can all relate to being a little Type A. It’s what makes us thorough, knowledgeable, and dependable. While not every guest you encounter will be as Type A as you, people are now accustomed to having tons of information at their fingertips that will help them pack, prepare and get excited for an event. When you provide less information than your guests are expecting, it’s a huge point of frustration for them. Every update is an opportunity to engage and excite the guests.
Use invitations and update emails as opportunities to educate your guests, so they know what to expect in the weeks, days, and even hours leading up to your event. Give them some history, reinforce your tagline, and share knowledge (whether or not transportation will be provided, any documentation they will be expected to show at check-in, etc.). This is also a great place to introduce attendees to a hashtag you'd like them to use onsite — the more they see it, the more likely they are to recall it when it’s time to post.
2. Not collecting enough information from guests
The information you have about your guests should make even Mark Zuckerburg jealous. Especially VIPs, contest winners, and other special guests. You never know when phones will die or when emails will get sent to the spam folder. Get as much information for your guests as possible: phone number(s) and email are a bare minimum. Also gather their Twitter handles, phone and address of where they are staying (if you didn’t book it yourself), and the names and numbers of any people with whom they’ll be traveling with. Feel free to collect this information post-sign up in case you are concerned about losing potential attendees to long sign up processes. Attendees can gradually add information to a profile page.
3. Emphasizing buzz over guest experience
Too many brands, especially those looking to increase recognition, are more concerned with producing an event that's buzzed about online than one that's enjoyable for guests IRL. Two years and two documentaries later, we all know the infamous example of Fyre Festival — the exotic, Caribbean music festival that couldn't even secure a location let alone dedicate time to the guest experience.
Focusing on perception over reality will completely distort the guest experience. On Instagram, an event can be edited and filtered to appeal to the masses. Of course, as an event producer, you have to put a plan in place for social posting and digital engagement, but remember, when you put the guests first, they will share their incredible experience on their own social feeds organically. This is the best promotion because people trust people more than brands.
4. Being understaffed
Staffing is too often viewed as a luxurious, last minute add-on to an event if, and only if, there is money left in the budget to accommodate. Instead, even planners and marketers are focused on paying for high profile venues, cutting edge technology, and social influencers. But don't forget, it takes an intelligent, quick-thinking, and warm person to make guests feel welcomed, special, and informed all in one breath. Hiring onsite staff shouldn't be the last thing event marketers cross off their to do lists because the personalities that interact with attendees can make or break the guest experience.