Behind every successful conference or event there is a market for what is provided and a target audience the event appeals to. From day one a planning team is establishing an estimated number of attendees, followed up with scheduled registration goals. When the numbers are no longer hitting their marks or your registration is down year over year, it’s time to step back and figure out what is going wrong. In this post we explore ten questions that should always be considered, but are especially important when registration numbers aren’t where they should be.

1. Why should people pay to attend your event?
This question might seem like a no brainer, but if you don’t have a straightforward answer, your potential audience is likely wondering the same thing. Especially if what you are providing is freely available. 

2. When was the last time you polled previous attendees?
Especially important for recurring events or annual conferences. When your numbers are down, turn to the data. If you aren’t actively seeking out targeted feedback, utilizing exit polls, or otherwise enticing your audience to tell you what they like/don’t like, then use your upcoming event to gather this info so you can make the following year even better. If you have the data but aren’t using it, it might be time to start. 

3. Do you have a multi channel marketing plan?
Or, how is your target audience receiving information about your conference? Are you in print publications, online forums, trade journals, social media? What are your SEO keywords? How are potential attendees finding out about your event? Make sure you are the one sharing the story, or they might not be getting a story at all.
P.S. If your current plan isn’t leading to direct registrations, time to find out why.

4. Who are your advocates?
Advocates might be too fancy of a word, so who are your biggest fans? Who has attended a previous conference and loved it? Who in your industry is behind your vision and will share their excitement with others? Reach out to the people who believe in the value you are sharing and help them to spread your message. Can’t think of anyone? Bring in a panel of experts, share your goals & purpose, and get some valuable feedback.

5. Are industry experts and leaders on board?
If you are hosting an industry specific event and don’t have or aren’t effectively marketing the attendance of leaders in the field, you are losing your legitimacy. In terms that are easy to understand: Imagine promoting a premier food and wine festival without a locally recognizable chef and no sommelier. The experts and admired leaders you choose are going to tell a lot of your story for you. When they aren’t present the focus shifts from the content you provide to wondering why people your target audience admires aren’t a part of your story.

6. Is the venue or host city easy to travel to?
Another simple but important detail. Even the best planned and marketed conferences can suffer from a host city that requires multiple flight connections or is, on average, more costly to get to. If travel isn’t required, what story is your venue telling? Is it easy to locate? Is it in an area known for heavy traffic? Will your audience have to travel far to get there? How is parking and security? The more convenient everything is, the more people you can expect.

7. Is the date convenient for your target audience?
People value their family and personal time more than ever. If you are marketing to business professionals, make sure the date of your conference or event doesn’t crossover into their off time. On the flip side, if you are hosting an event people would attend outside of work, make sure it won’t interrupt their regular business schedules. If registration drops and the only change is time of year/week/day, look into other commitments you might be competing with.

8. Have you increased the amount of information required to register?
Fun fact: as the amount of required fields on a registration form increases, the amount of people who begin and never complete event registration also increases. Make sure your form contains the essentials, clean out the rest. Another requirement that drops your conversion rate? Making registrants create an account in order to complete the process. Make a “register as guest” option is available.

9. When was the last time the mobile app was updated?
Just ten short years ago, most people in the business world were still using desk tops for most tasks and running around with nokias, flip phones, and blackberrys. Technology changes FAST. Does your app and web presence reflect that you are keeping up? These are things you should be regularly reviewing, especially if being knowledgeable and innovative is part of your message.

10. Are you providing value to your target audience outside of your conference or event?
Who are you to your target audience? Would you compare yourself to an industry mentor providing useful and timely information that provides value in both their career and life? Or are you more like an old coworker who only comes around when they can do something for you? If you are only reaching out to your audience to say “it’s time to register!”, consider your role in their world. People who feel that you have invested in them are much more likely to invest in you. If your conference is annual or your event is ongoing, what value are you providing when you aren’t hoping to get people to register? What relationships are you fostering? What kind of conversations are you having? It might be time for your registration efforts to take a more long term approach.

Still stumped about why your numbers aren’t where they are supposed to be? We’d love to get to know you and your conference, meeting, or corporate event better. We offer a complimentary 30 minute consultation to all potential new clients where we can trouble shoot any issues on your radar. Just reach out and say “Hello!”