The Invitation Process
– The marketing and creativity side of the invitation process was covered in part 4 of tips; here we will concentrate on the process.
– the invitation is not only a way of inviting delegates but also a way to confirm name and contact address of potential delegate and open a dialogue for further communications before and after the event.
– for this you need a database, depending on the event this can be a database of your own employees, a prospect list from your CSR system, sales records, website inquiries about your products or services, commercial lists although these are not always so successful and you cannot always know how clean and up to date these are. Third party lists from your partner or distributors, can also be invited. Remember you need to invite far more people than you actually want to attend and there is often a 25% drop out rate.
– Software products are available on the market for the actual process of administrating the attendees, and if you do several events a year it is worthwhile investing in a package.
– The invitation mailing should be creative and follow the theme of the event, it should encourage acceptance, and give the essential information an attendee requires before deciding to attend:
- Name, title, address of delegate
- Date and location of event, map and rail/road/air connections
- Start and finish times
- Theme of the conference and why they should attend
- Guest speakers if famous or a renowned authority on the subject
- Personalisation from the conference sponsors
- Reply device, with space for delegate contact details and any special needs
– the timing of sending out the invitation is important and this should be built into your invitation plan and further reminders of the event should also be planned before the event and added to your time line. Certain audiences may require at least three months notice of the event, with reminders sent out to the undecided as you near the event.
– confirmation of attendance, this should be done immediately as you need to build up a communication channel to the delegate leading up to the event both to promote your company and also to reduce the inevitable drop-out rate. Communication should be regular and involve email messages, news letters telephone and further details on the programme, joining instructions, travel and accommodation details, hospitality arrangements and other relevant information you would like the delegate to receive before the event. If you are using web based registration you can add their own personal login and ability to communicate with other attendees and find out information on the event.
– the registration system will be used to create badges for the delegates that can be created by the software package you are using and colour coordinated if required to show the different categories of delegates, sponsors, speakers, staff, exhibitors etc.
The delegate attendee list will also be created from the registration list and can be analysed and produced as required. The contact list is most important if there is a crisis during the event and should be up to date and available to all those concerned in dealing with a situation if the needs arises.