The customer journey and experience is crucial to the success of any event. It’s a make or break situation. But how can we tell what they will experience before the event takes place? Think like your customer and you can instantly see the problems you need to solve.

We’ve briefly mentioned the importance of putting yourself in the delegates shoes in our previous blogs, but what do we really mean by this? What, in particular, are we supposed to think about when doing so? The simple answer is the ‘customer journey’. This being the voyage the customers experience as they navigate themselves through the event, from start to finish. What will they see, find, experience, hear, smell, taste?

Most of us have been a delegate at some stage, and as event organisers we are harsh critiques to please. That was your customer journey. You’ve experienced it yourself, and now it’s time to put your delegate shoes on when organising your own conference. The difference being you’ve got to visualise ahead of time your delegate experience.

Think about how you felt when you were a delegate at previous events. It doesn’t have to be a Conference, it could be a Team Building event or an edgy new Product Launch. Concentrate on the emotions, thoughts and feelings you experienced and use this as the basis upon which to build. Furthermore, when you next attend an event try to be internally critical. Think about how you would improve the experience and take notes. Your initial thoughts and feelings you experience are the key ones not to forget.

But what about now? What about your event? Let’s take a look at a typical customer journey for the initial stages of attending an event.

Firstly, you receive pre-event Joining Instructions, then you arrive at the venue, register, drop your bags and head over catering before joining the keynote.

When visualising the customer journey take a step back and remove yourself from the organisers point of view. Easier said than done, I agree, but if you saw everything from an event managers point of view you’d concentrate on the insignificant things.

Below are some thoughts and notes on our, Hippo Events, processes of thinking each of these early stages. The answers to these thoughts help conjure up the experience they delegate will have.

Pre-event Joining Instructions – When will they receive this? How will they receive this? What will it look like? What details will be on it? Will anything else come with it? Can they pre-register? How will you display directions? Have you tried following these directions on your site visits?
Arrive at the venue – Is the venue visible? Where do they enter? Is there clear signage? Any branding opportunities? What do they first see when they walk in? What is their first emotion?
Register – What do they need to produce upon arrival? How can this be made more convenient? What questions will be asked? What system will be used? How will registration look? How will it be organised? Is there clear signage to say how it’s organised e.g. by surname? Where do they queue? What does the lanyard look like? How big is the badge? What if they need a replacement? What if they’re not registered – what’s the process? If they’re staying over, how do they know when / how to check in?
Bag Drop – Where do they drop their bags? What time is this bag drop open from / to? Is it visible? Can you access their bags during the day?
Catering – Is there clear signage on where the catering is? What is the catering? Is it labelled with dietary requirements? Is there a variety? How many service stations are there so they don’t have to wait? What beverages are on offer? What if they arrive late and there’s no catering? Are there tables for them to eat it? IS there background music?
Moving through to the Keynote – How is this announced? Is this sufficient? Is there a seating plan? What about latecomers? Are there reserved seats?

You can see from the above how many questions there are about each individual element, no matter how small. When visualising the experience, you should find yourself automatically thinking these. Therefore, it’s important to take a few moments to remember the customers, and remove yourself from the organisers point of view. Organisers experience a very different journey of the event!

We recommend that once you have this journey mapped out in your head you then take a few hours out the office to physically walk the journey yourself, conducting a site visit and pinning your thoughts to the actual venue. You may find new opportunities, solutions, or potentially a different way of achieving the same outcome. The more you plan and visualise, the better the customer experience.

If you’d like to talk to us about your event please don’t hesitate to Contact Us for any event requirements here – we’re here to help. Hippo.