When you’re hosting a corporate event, attendance can be a make-or-break factor. A full house creates an invigorating energy that infuses every activity with a sense of excitement and importance. Whether you’re hosting a company retreat or planning a major industry conference, the right strategies can help you increase attendance and leave guests excited for your next event. Here are a few tips to help increase attendance at your next corporate event.
Serving food is one of the best ways to increase the turnout for your corporate events. According to a recent survey of Grubhub corporate clients, 83% of respondents find that offering meal perks at an event increases attendance.* The food might not be the main event, but it’s a compelling perk—after all, everyone likes a free meal. Whether you choose passed appetizers, a buffet or a plated sit-down dinner, guests will enjoy the chance to eat and socialize.
When it comes to food, you have a variety of different options. Defy expectations by bringing in food trucks, or create a special snack area to help attendees refuel between sessions. Desserts offer plenty of room for creativity; you can bring in a cotton-candy maker, hire someone to fry fresh donuts or create a DIY sundae bar. For smaller events, you might allow everyone to choose their own meal. A Grubhub Corporate Account makes it easy for guests to order from different restaurants and ensure all the meals are delivered at the same time.
Hire Engaging Speakers
A great speaker brings fresh energy to an event, giving attendees something specific to look forward to. To plan a successful guest presentation, select a speaker who sparks curiosity and a topic that’s relevant to your audience. Some options include:
- Industry experts
- Business leaders
- Popular motivational speakers
- Social media personalities
Top-tier speakers can be expensive, so you may need to think outside the box. When there’s no room in the budget for a famous industry expert, look to people in your local area. If your event is focused on industry trends, you might bring in a local entrepreneur who’s disrupting the market with a new product. For a digital marketing conference, you could find a successful blogger to talk about search engine optimization (SEO) tips and trends. As long as the topic is compelling, name recognition isn’t critical.
Add Interactive Elements
Interactive elements make any event more engaging and fun. They give the guests something active to do, which helps them feel fresh during presentations and meetings. Possibilities include:
- Set up hands-on workshops
- Host a Q&A session after a presentation
- Include a networking session
- Plan a panel discussion with all speakers
- Demonstrate new technologies or products
Activities don’t need to be related to the theme or topic of the event—you can shake things up with elements that are purely designed for fun or enjoyment. Schedule a fitness class, host a city tour, set up a make-your-own floral bouquet table or plan a formal theme night. These sessions give attendees a chance to relax and process information.
Create Photo and Video Opportunities
Chances are, the majority of your guests have a presence on at least one social media platform. Harness the power of their social networks by creating intriguing photo and video opportunities that encourage guests to post in real time. This is particularly effective for events that require formal attire—it’s a chance for attendees to show off their carefully planned outfits.
Take a basic photo backdrop to the next level by creating a step-and-repeat banner with the branding for your event. Hire a few professional photographers to snap photos as guests arrive, and make the images available for guests to share. Or, rent a 360 photo booth to capture slow-motion video portraits. Most rental options enable guests to download and share the videos immediately by scanning a QR code.
Schedule Opportunities to Socialize
Part of the fun of a corporate event is the chance to mingle with friends and meet new people. To facilitate friendly relationships and create an experience to remember, integrate social activities into the schedule. Cocktail evenings and mixers are reliable standbys; jazz them up by adding a theme or incorporating games.
Sometimes it’s easier to socialize when everyone in the group has something in common. After speakers or presentations, direct attendees to spaces where they can talk about the topic casually. Participants can share their thoughts and engage in lively discussions.
Promote Your Perks
Once you decide on a strategy to increase attendance, start promoting it aggressively to your desired guests. Post on social media, feature the event on your company blog and send out email reminders. Build excitement by offering a sneak peek of the special features. If you’re renting a 360 photo booth, post sample videos from other events; if you’re catering the event, share the menu.
When your event includes external speakers or vendors, get them involved in your promotional efforts. You might host a live video stream with the keynote speaker or the catering chef, for example. If you’re bringing in entertainment, ask them to share a quick behind-the-scenes video in rehearsal. This builds anticipation among attendees, but it can also expand your reach. After all, when you create a positive post about a person or service, they’re likely to repost it on their own profiles.
When your event is over and attendees have had time to reflect on the experience, reach out and ask for feedback. If you’re looking for opinions on specific decisions, such as the venue or the accessibility of the event, use simple multiple-choice questions. For lengthier, more nuanced answers, ask open-ended questions. Make sure to keep the survey anonymous so guests feel free to express honest opinions.
Feedback from attendees can provide valuable insights. Guests have a different experience than organizers, so they can point out issues and offer useful suggestions. Plan a meeting with your team to review the results and decide how to use them to improve future events.
When you incorporate feedback and approach planning with creativity, you can host corporate events that guests are thrilled to attend. To streamline the process, consider setting up accounts with vendors in advance. This is particularly important when it comes to food—you can feed attendees at team meetings and events with ease using a Grubhub Corporate Account. Contact us to learn more.
*Based on an internal survey of Grubhub Corporate clients (2022).