A top-notch conference programme is now ready. But what good is a great show without an audience? Association executives from around the world at PCMA Meetings Forum Singapore suggest some ways to grow international attendance
1. Work with fellow chapters and affiliate organisations
Your global network of association chapters make a ready market for your conference, and being under the same umbrella makes members more receptive to your event. Don’t forget to market your conference to affiliate organisations in your industry’s vertical market too, as they are interested in similar issues and subjects of discussions.
2. Leverage international media as well as social media
Get to know the different trade media specialising in your industry across the world, and involve them in your publicity programme right from the start. Social media is also worth considering in your communications plan, but be sure to understand how well it is used by your audience in different markets before investing time and money in it.
3. Address/minimise travel costs for overseas delegates
Travel costs can be restrictive for some delegates, especially those from developing markets with tight spending budgets. Education grants could be provided to selected overseas delegates who satisfy specific criteria, or a hosted programme could be developed with the help of relevant sponsors who wish to penetrate a young market.
4. Promote the destination
While the conference content is the paramount draw, delegates are human too and desire to see and experience the destination they have made time and effort to travel to. Highlighting the destination’s attractions will entice delegates to consider investing in the trip for both business and leisure purposes.
5. Make content available beyond the event
Not every one will be able to travel to your conference, restricted by a variety of reasons such as tedious visa application processes, budget constraints or work/family commitments. Make your conference content available either through live streaming, or post-event as a series of downloadable podcasts. You can choose to make these options payable or free to an audited and relevant audience.
Making your conference content available to those who were unable to be present serves also as a marketing tool, to demonstrate the quality of what you can deliver and entice them to attend the next edition.
6. Rely on the host destination’s convention bureau
Most convention bureau in established destinations are able to offer delegate-boosting support to important trade events headed for their shores. They may do it through their in-market offices across the world, or as part of their destination marketing campaign. They may even link you up with the national economic or trade development agency and overseas affiliates to help get the word out.
7. Get hosted trade media to lead a group of attendees
Have your media representative bring a guaranteed number of quality attendees from their market in exchange for fully hosted status at your event.
8. Dangle speaking opportunities
Those who accept your invite to speak will share information on your event with colleagues, thereby spreading the word and attracting more attendees from their organisation.