As we know, client loyalty is vital to event and meeting planners, and can be facilitated and grown through the latest in event technology. However, too often we think of loyalty or retention as something exclusively important to external events. The qualities of keeping employees engaged and attendance high are just as applicable to internal events at a company or corporation, whether it’s a training session, sales meeting, incentive trip or board meeting. By truly engaging with your employees and keeping meetings interesting, your meetings and events can leave a lasting impression, motivate employees and turn them into your biggest advocates.
Here are just a few ways to use event technology to make meetings an exciting part of the employee experience.
Keep it fun!
I organize our annual sales kickoff meeting, and I’ve found that these types of meetings are the best time of the year to get everyone excited about a new set of goals and quotas and to foster good understanding of the plan that will help us meet the company’s vision. By making it a fun, energetic event, our salespeople look forward to attending, traveling from all over the world to be there. We incorporate friendly competition; for example, we did a team go-karting adventure where teams where challenged with completing the 50-lap course in record time. It required teams to determine a strategy around how often they would switch drivers and maximize time on the course. This encouraged everyone to connect a bit better with their peers and colleagues, and to demonstrate their ability to problem solve and work as a team. By the end of the multi-day long sales meeting they’re energized, excited, and ready to go off and get the job done.
A large part of keeping your employees engaged at your events is preparing them beforehand. Once they’re energized, you want to capture their interest and get them invested in the products they’re selling. One tactic we’ve found to be exceedingly successful in increasing event engagement is asking the employees themselves to present, instead of requiring them to listen to myself, management or to a product specialist for hours. Last year, each team learned the ins and outs of one emerging product prior to the event, and then gave product demonstrations using practical applications. Each team had to teach the others why the product they were assigned would be considered a great resource for a particular audience. In doing this, the teams were more invested and engaged on a personal level—increasing event ROI—while they enhanced their understanding of our products.
Use a mobile app and wearable technology
Mobile apps are a great resource for not only large external events, but also for smaller internal events. Mobile apps provide the meeting organizer with an extensive toolbox: live polling, personalized agendas, gamification, presentation platforms, interactive communication, notifications and more. On a small scale, an event mobile app allows attendees to access the presentations without lugging around laptops or notebooks. On a larger scale, event mobile apps can provide attendees with a personalized agenda specific to that individual, giving them the feeling of a more intimate meeting. From there, custom push notifications based on the individual’s sessions can help further personalize the experience and provide the event organizer with a more efficient meeting, saving time that’s typically spent answering attendee questions or reminding attendees where they need to be.
These capabilities coupled with gamification features and live polling can really take a simple internal meeting to the next level in terms of attendee engagement and ROI. You want your employees to enjoy their time at events, and something as simple as a live poll can help. If you only have a short time to present, an event organizer or presenter can utilize live polling to ask attendees what they’re most eager to learn about. Moreover, these live polls and games implement more friendly competition, keeping event attendees lively and alert, incentivizing event engagement to the max.
This past year, we added wearable Bluetooth enabled badges to our sales kick off meeting and this was another great use of technology to keep everyone engaged. The technology allowed attendees to exchange contact information through the badges, which was particularly helpful for employees who had never met before. Also, they could use the badges to download information at product stations. We also used the tool’s analytics to ensure sales people participated in their sessions and didn’t leave early. We tracked engagement by the number of connections they made or number of sessions attended and their overall foot traffic throughout the meeting to help us better organize things for the next year.
Utilize a venue sourcing tool
Internal events can be just as stressful for the meeting planner as external events. The result of a meeting that is not executed flawlessly could have a very negative impact on employees and their perception of the company. One of the ways we created a ton of efficiency, a significant amount of savings and a great experience for our employees was to use a venue sourcing tool. Not only did it simplify the process for locating a venue with a streamlined RFP process, but we were able to handle all the venue negotiations and concessions through the tool. This helped drive down our costs and get a really clear understanding of overall expenses. Once the venue was booked, all of the information about the venue was pulled into the registration process, giving our attendees a seamless experience and cutting down a significant amount of our time as event planners.
Create a sense of belonging
Perhaps most importantly, these techniques for effective internal meeting planning provide employees—especially remote employees who attend so few meetings—with a sense of belonging. An engaging event fosters community between and within employees, motivating them to perform their best because they truly care about the company they work for. With newfound confidence, they’ll come away with the sensation that they are not alone, there are others facing the same challenges they’re facing, and that they can brainstorm to share ideas with these peers. At the end of the day, that’s the kind of impact you can’t get over the phone. It’s an impact you only earn through a powerful meeting experience.