It's no surprise that how memorable an event is goes hand in hand with how successful it is. In a time where the number of live events is surging, finding ways to help your event stand out from the competition is more important than ever. When you consider that prospective attendees are often facing tighter than normal travel budgets, increased lodging costs, and general inflation across the board differentiating your event can often be the deciding factor in securing that coveted RSVP. Below are some ideas you can use and build upon as a starting point when planning unique events.
Creating a unique event begins during the planning phase, and simple decisions can help make a big difference in converting would-be guests. Some key things to consider as you start preparing your next big event to help you stand out:
Time & Place: One of the biggest factors in a unique event is where and when your event is. Unique events are often ones that do not mirror your attendees' normal day-to-day routine. So hosting events during a typically slow day or season can help bring in additional revenue during a slow sales period and mix up your guest’s routine in a positive way. With one of the biggest culprits of budget hogs being travel, knowing where your attendees are coming from plays a big role in picking the perfect venue. While the idea of an event at a sunny seaside vista is appealing, sometimes the most unique event is one that is the most accessible. With sustainability becoming a priority, opting for a venue with a strong green initiative can also help make your event a bit more appealing.
Gift Thoughtfully: A gift bag stuffed with predictable items can negatively affect your brand. Instead, try to integrate your gifts into your content and networking efforts. For example, give your attendees a cutting board and knife set for the interactive cooking class you have planned one night or a reusable wine tumbler for your networking happy hour. With increased emphasis on sustainability, try to keep your gift’s end of life in mind as well. High-end brands your guests will love using for years to come or new, biodegradable substrates all bring a little extra value as it shows you’ve taken the time to consider the product’s use outside your event. These gifts can go a long way in cultivating your brand reputation and save you from a trash can full of giveaways after your event has ended.
Use Your Menu: Where you source your food and how you present it to attendees can help set your event apart from other events they’ve attended. Your menu can be a great spot to up the ante on sustainability - things like locally sourced options to cut down on travel and packaging wastes, asking to serve "ugly" fruit to save it from a landfill, using veggies from snack trays during lunch as ingredients for the evening stew and salad toppings, or partnering with food donation programs are all ideas you can use to up your green points when it comes to catering. Food can also be a great way to boost your brand visibility, unique and creative offerings like branded fruit can recognize sponsors without leaving behind waste. Get your attendees involved as well with a cocktail hour that kicks off with a drink they make themselves during a guiding mixology class, or give them the option to prepare their own omelets at an interactive omelet bar in the morning. This is a great spot to incorporate your giveaways and provide networking opportunities, unique content, and food all in one.
Creative Floor Plans: As an event planner, it’s important to be flexible, even for meeting elements that are typically set in stone. While we can all agree that a registration area should be near the front, when it comes to the refreshments or charging stations — anything is possible! Be creative with your layout and strive to create organic spaces for networking, decompression, or distribution. Check out our networking blog for more information on these deliberate areas!
Pricing: When it comes to pricing your event, there are two strong ways to make your business stand out from the flock. On one end of the spectrum, a company can strive to be positioned as the low price leader, offering customers outstanding value with an affordable price tag. With many businesses operating on a tighter-than-normal budget, this pricing style can be extremely attractive when picking which events to attend. On the other end, high pricing can indicate a premium brand. Leveraging your noteworthy speakers, name-brand giveaways, and exclusive on-site educational content can all help make a bigger price tag more appealing. So be sure to market your event according to your chosen pricing structure!
When it comes to making your content stand out, strive to strike a balance between entertaining and educating your attendees. While the concept is simple enough, taking the necessary steps to ensure valuable content is a little easier said than done. Let's take a look at some of the basics below:
Know Your Audience: Before the event even starts, do your research to know your audience. Age demographics, experience, and current industry trends or pain points all determine not only what type of content your event should include (from breakout sessions to swag bag contents) but also the best way to convey it to your guests.
Source Your Speakers Deliberately: Aside from sourcing speakers directly from your industry, try to utilize the audience to bring additional value to your presentations! Cultivating spaces for round table discussions about their thoughts about a speaker’s presentation is an immersive way to build upon your event’s content and even facilitate some additional beneficial networking.
Get Trendy: Finding ways to expand upon current event trends can help set your event apart from the competition, especially regarding sustainability which has quickly become a priority for attendees and planners alike. Whether taking the necessary steps for a zero-waste event or something as simple as sourcing biodegradable plates and utensils, small pushes in the realm of sustainability can go a long way with guests. Moreover, it can set you up as an eco-trailblazer, especially here in the U.S., where massive green efforts are currently just beginning. Be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Sustainable Events for some great ways to go green at your next event or meeting.
For some examples and outside-the-box ideas for differentiating your content, check out our full blog here!
We all know that graphics are a crucial part of any great event. With our attendees and sponsors counting on graphics for wayfinding, communication, and recognition, they’ve become an integral part of all events. Most planners have perfected the art of using signs, banners, and other graphics as visual communication and cohesive branding, but have you ever thought about using graphics as another place to differentiate your events from others? Great graphics start with knowing your venue, embracing the venue space, and end with great sign design, layout, and placement.
Know Your Venue: An intimate understanding of your venue’s layout can make all the difference when optimizing your graphics. Creating graphics that pair with the areas you've created for networking or relaxing makes for maintaining that professional atmosphere across your event. Don’t be afraid to speak with your venue contacts to see how other events have used the space and use these ideas as a starting spot to build upon!
Embrace Your Space: Where you use graphics at your event can take them from simple directionals to wayfinding wonders. Utilizing aspects of your environment is a great way to create seamless, big-impact branding opportunities. Graphics like column wraps, stair riser decals, or elevator clings can help you embrace your space to dress up large areas that don't typically see decorations, providing you with some outside-the-box surfaces to boost your sponsors or your own visibility.
Scale Matters: The most important tip for successful graphics is to avoid visual clutter. This can mean scaling graphics up or down to fit particular sections of your venue or adhering to pre-established design rules or branding guidelines to facilitate a cohesive look across your venue.
For some great visual ideas and a more in-depth look at how to get the most out of your graphics, be sure to check out the full blog here.
With networking opportunities being the number one cited reason attendees prefer in-person events, finding unique ways to facilitate a healthy environment for networking at your event can be the deciding factor for many would-be attendees.
Find a Partner: One of the easiest ways to increase these types of opportunities is to partner with another business that is similar enough in the industry that you don’t need to make many concessions on your content but different enough that it attracts a wide range of attendees from both businesses.
Utilize Pre-Event Communication: Networking opportunities should really begin before the event even kicks off. Using your event app, try to gather your attendees’ personal interests, hobbies, or aspirations, then pair them with like-minded individuals during an opening cocktail hour. A conversation that transcends work or your industry is the one that makes lasting impressions and even longer-lasting relationships.
Get Personal: Creative spins on standard event infrastructure can be used to foster meaningful conversations. For example, having event name badges include an “Ask me about ____” area or using your mobile event app to arrange scavenger hunts amongst your attendees.
Streamline: Come standard event practices actually just slow things down, like paper forms at sponsor booths. Instead, give your attendees RFID cards or wristbands to streamline interaction. This is a move that respects your attendees' times and allows your sponsors to collect more of the data they’re after quickly and easily.
Incorporate Your Giveaways: Give attendees a choice as to what gift they receive that corresponds to an activity that goes along with their gift(like a branded gym bag for guests who choose to attend your early morning exercise class or a laptop carrying backpack for others who opt for a quiet morning catching up on emails ). Being easily able to identify personal interests based on the promo an attendee carries around can help spark organic conversation and again, helps bring the conversation outside the work realm for more meaningful and impactful discussions.
For a lot of great examples of some of these ideas and more, check out the full Networking blog here!
Let’s Get Planning!
Whether finding the perfect gift to pair with your content and networking efforts or finding creative ways to dress up a space and wow your attendees, our team is here to help! So if you’re just getting started or need some last-minute gifts or graphics, contact us and let us help make your next event a unique experience that guests won’t soon forget!