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One simple tool to dramatically improve the customer experience of your event!

Discover one simple tool to dramatically improve the experience for your event attendees. It’s critical for the future of your event that you deliver an experience that all your attendees, including your volunteers and staff, can enjoy. The negative word of mouth and these days massive social media attention that you can get from a negative experience of just one attendee can impact your events ability to grow its audience; sponsorship and profile.

There’s nothing worse than all your hard work being diminished in the face of bad press; complaints and even worse, the loss of sponsors or someone getting hurt.

The one thing guaranteed to risk this situation is an event attendee having a bad experience that they feel is the responsibility of, and therefore blame, the event organisers.

These days, the person just doesn’t tell their close friends, no, they tell the whole world!  This world is listening via social media, and soon enough the press jumps on the story, and now all that hard work, love, sweat and joy you’ve put into the event makes you feel like it was all for nothing.

All event organisers know that the devil is in the detail and one of the most important things you can do is to make sure you have thought about all the steps of the experience from the perspective of the event attendees. 

The simple tool that will help you think about the attendee’s experience has a few names: customer experience map; customer journey map and the one I use for this type of work with is attendee experience journey.

What this tool helps you do is to shape the experience of your attendees by walking through the event from their perspective.  And when I say their perspective, what I mean is that you need to have the experience they have – e.g. if they use an online booking system, then you need to go through the booking system and test it. Then you can make changes to improve their experience.

This process is called designing the experience or experiential design.  This is such a valuable thing to do because you understand what the event attendees needs are; what actions they undertake and importantly, what you can do to improve their experience and/or deliver the experience you wish them to have. 

It also highlights the moments where attendees make some big decisions about either doing what you want them to do or not do. That’s important information! 

What are attendee experience maps?

Ok, let’s use an example to demonstrate what these experience maps are.  Think about the last time you went to a training workshop.  What did you do before you went to the workshop?  What happened when you arrived; during the workshop and what happened after you left the workshop?

Now get some sticky notes and write each of these steps up and put them in order. 

Congratulations!  What you have just developed is a very simple attendee experience journey.  Here’s an example of what it might look like in the below image.



Designing the experience

Let’s first break each of these up into three stages being: pre-event; during-event and post-event.  We are going to call those sticky notes ‘steps’.



Next, we are going to ask a few questions about each of the steps.

The answers to this you can put on a different coloured sticky note and place that note at the related point in your attendee experience journey.  

  • What were your logical needs at this point?
  • What were you thinking?
  • What questions did you have?
  • How were you feeling?
  • Are there any risks in this step?
  • What could have been done to improve your experience?
  • What could and did happen at that step to change your mind/behaviour towards the workshop?

When you’ve asked yourself those questions from the perspective of the event attendee, then ask yourself the questions from the perspective of the event organiser.

If you were a sponsor of the event what would you have like to happen at this step?

If you were the marketer of the event what would you like to see at this step?

If you were the administrator of the event what process; policy or document would you need to develop?



What next?

Now you just need to take all of those learnings, decide which of these are important and develop a list of improvement suggestions.

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Natalie Bramble
Natalie Bramble has helped thousands of not-for-profit and social enterprises, and over 10,500 board members, staff and volunteers, across Australia, to improve their organisations - resulting in increased impact and sustainability.

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