Embrace Event Design to Satisfy All Stakeholders

By: Carrie Winton
team of event planners working on event design

Let’s pretend you’ve just scored a table at a Michelin-starred restaurant. Great news, right? But when everyone in your dinner party arrives craving a different cuisine, the pressure is on to make sure each person walks away satisfied.   

In today’s experience economy, event professionals are in a similar situation. Stakeholders might expect different outcomes from the same event. And success is no longer just about increasing attendance headcount or landing an exclusive location. Event goals are aligned around earning prime real estate in your attendees’ headspace.

By creating personalized moments tied to a deeper purpose, your brand becomes memorable and meaningful to those you seek to engage. Attendees crave emotional connections with a brand. It’s safe to say: experiential marketing no longer lives only in B2C.

Now that being present has taken on many new dimensions with evolving virtual and hybrid technologies, attendees expect more immersive, participatory and authentic event experiences. And with more formats than ever, event professionals are feeling the pressure to navigate all the scenarios. Embracing event design creates a roadmap for success.

See Success With an Event Vision

Before you book anything, know from the get-go what internal objectives you’re driving toward. An inspired vision is great. An informed vision is even better. Proactively bringing together perspectives from sales, marketing, HR—even sponsors—gives you a wide lens on what success will look like. Event visioning is a practice that weaves together input from all relevant stakeholders to arrive at a unified approach.

Once the planning begins, your event vision serves as your guide, a North Star informing all decisions to achieve the agreed-upon goals. Need to choose between budgeting for an evening gala or hosting an offsite networking experience? Your event vision will help you navigate that fork in the road. Event visioning helps you ensure every aspect of the experience is designed in alignment with the audience, creative thread, success metrics and contracts.

The event visioning process can feel like a lot of work on the front end. But a shared vision also creates a framework for a friction-free assessment of the event’s impact and value. You know stakeholder’s pains and their gains in advance. Because everyone’s been brought into and bought into the process, there’s shared accountability. Everybody ends up toasting to the event’s incredible success.

Map to Your Goals 

Great event design begins with the end in mind. You know what your stakeholders desire. Now, you need to determine the best way to inspire this change in your attendees. Borrowing from a human-centered design approach, orient the entire attendee journey around supporting behavior you want to see:

Want to empower your sales team to boost their numbers?

Give them the knowledge they need in a competitive trivia event. And facilitate connections among top performers at a networking event designed to encourage them to cross-share strategies.

Targeting an audience to feel an affinity to your brand?

Foster empathy by inviting them to a give-back opportunity aligned around CSR goals. Show how you can make a positive impact together.

Looking to build your referral pipeline with people who really know your product?

Design a hybrid event that incorporates pre-event training, then puts them in the driver’s seat on site with a hands-on demo.

By understanding and focusing on attendee needs, you can better achieve your goals. Just be sure to measure the baseline with a pre-event survey to get credit for post-event improvements in perception and knowledge! 

Related: Go beyond the stale post-event satisfaction survey. Download our post-event survey feedback white paper.

Design the Thoughtful Details

Creating authentic, hyper-personalized experiences for attendees requires creativity and attention to concepts that could fizzle as much as moments that pop. Excellent event design is about moving beyond logistics with purposeful, attendee-centered experiences that drive mood and emotion. Segmentation can help classify a singular group into personas. It’s a practice that helps you deliver a tailored journey based on preferences—down to a cocktail of choice.

Before you promise a fireworks display at the farewell, bring the operations team into the conversation. (You don’t want to find out after sending the itinerary that there’s a fire ban in the area, for instance!) If an idea can’t be executed, then the vision you’ve cast fails.

Incorporating energizer moments that build buzz in the room (like surprising a group with hallway chats from an industry celeb) but aren’t on the official agenda is a great way to enliven a late afternoon lull.

And don’t discount how thoughtful touches, like a welcome basket tailored specifically to their tastes or a playlist curated by attendees at opening session, can set a tone.

Need more inspiration for your event design? Read about incorporating experiential surprises “for attendees who’ve seen it all” in our latest Insights. 

Carrie Winton
Carrie Winton

Carrie received her M.A. in Communication and Research from Saint Louis University (Go Billikens!). Her passion for the meetings and events industry and bringing people together to educate and inspire started over 15 years ago in corporate marketing. More recently, she’s expanded her expertise to global marketing and thought leadership research. Outside of work, Carrie is still likely to be found planning vacations and adventures with her own family—her husband and two young kiddos. She loves to explore unfamiliar places and recently crossed two destinations off her bucket list: Rome and Prague.