Big events are exciting, fun, packed with educational activities, and true launchpads for awesome networking and collaborating. Big events are intense experience engines, with a large offer of dynamics and multiple opportunities.
But these big events are also inhumane, difficult to navigate, and overloaded with people, information, and simultaneous sessions.
Here’s a conversation we should start having: How sustainable are these big events? What goals can large events really help us achieve in the long run? Is it possible to achieve these goals through smaller, more cost-efficient, and more compact events?
And finally, what exactly do we consider a big event?
A big event usually involves a big audience (more than 1,000 people), covers an expansive area, and requires collaboration across numerous logistic departments and providers. From academic conferences to brand events, planners and managers aim to attract a large number of attendees in hopes of creating a wider impact.
This makes sense when you’re running concerts or trade shows. With concerts, there’s an entire philosophy derived from engaging in a massive leisure experience created through music. And with trade shows, it’s important to offer exhibitors the chance to interact with as many potential clients or prospects as possible, thus you must ensure an elevated number of attendees.
However, when it comes to brand events (usually companies, institutions, or corporations that are using event marketing for business purposes), going big can generate a series of problems. Here are some of them:
Problem #1. Lack of “human touch”
Let’s face it: When you’re running a huge event, it’s almost impossible to offer your attendees a personalized experience. Planning and executive teams are so focused on issues and challenges to keep the event running smoothly that they tend to overlook the interpersonal factor.
Plus, if you don’t have a pack of volunteers to help you with the guests, it will be hard to give your audience the attention they need to feel valued or appreciated, which turns the event into a mass production that lacks human warmth and presence.
Problem #2. Information overload
When you set up a complex knowledge session with multiple discussions at the same time in different rooms, you run the risk of causing information overload, which actually hinders the learning experience.
Remember, your event is not the internet, where people hop from one page to another, reading and skimming through information. To thoroughly assimilate new insights, thoughts, and data, people need to be truly focused, without any interruptions or distractions.
Jumping from the middle of one session to a roundtable talk (because both seem interesting) during a big event actually disrupts the learning process, and the residual attention (the attention left from switching to one task to another) is detrimental to your guests’ experience, as it prevents them from absorbing the information.
Problem #3. Choice paralysis
One of the most celebrated features of event digitization is letting attendees decide their own event agenda. That’s great when there aren’t too many options to choose from, but what if your event is offering more than five sessions at the same time, three days in a row?
How do you expect your guests to choose what suits them most? They might not even know what speaker(s) will provide them with the most value.
This abundance of choices may invoke a bit of a “paralysis” factor, making your attendees focus on choosing their activities for the first day (or the first half of the day), then just decide to go with the flow and choose something in-situ. This may disrupt their learning experience and cause a negative emotional effect.
Problem #4. Failure to build strong relationships
One of the most important aspects of brand events is offering the necessary platform for companies, institutions, or corporations to generate fruitful connections with prospects and potential clients.
But when you’re dealing with a substantial audience, it’ll be difficult to build valuable business relationships with your guests (unless you’re running a special B2B matchmaking dynamic).
Problem #5. Difficulties when trying to quantify the results
How do you segment your attendees? How do you offer them massive customized experiences? Do you sort them into categories such as cold, warm, and hot leads? How do you measure the brand exposure levels for thousands of attendees?
New data gathering and analysis technologies will help you find the answers to these questions. However, to boost your businesses, instead of looking for the big data, you’ll be searching for that small data (through listening to the attendees, having conversations with them, mingling, understanding their emotional state, etc.), which is necessary to attract new leads or close deals. This is difficult when interacting with hundreds of people, yet almost impossible to achieve when dealing with an even larger group.
Why going small is the answer
When you have the resources and potential to run big events, downsizing might seem unjustified. However, scaling down your events can greatly benefit your brand.
First, it’ll give you more control over the quality of your attendees because you can personally choose who attends. You can review each potential guest’s registration form and decide if your event will suit his or her needs, and then approve or reject the attendance request.
Second, both you and your team will be able to interact with the attendees and give them individualized attention to ensure a pleasant experience.
Third, these interactions will prompt you to start building strong relationships with your guests that may transform into collaborations or closed deals after the event.
Fourth, you’ll have control over the knowledge session impact. When planning the event, you can choose a narrower topic of interest and go deeper by letting your guests to explore the new data and insights provided by experts and speakers.
The secret is to condense these sessions so your audience can concentrate on what’s important instead of constantly changing rooms and chasing other parallel sessions. Keeping everything simple will eliminate information overload and allow your guests to be more alert and focused.
Finally, you’ll have full jurisdiction over the outcomes and know exactly how to continue the conversation at different levels with different attendees after the event.
Although it might not seem so obvious, going small when the market demands you to go big just might be the solution to a more immersive experience for your attendees, not to mention higher quality results for your business.
So what do you say? Are you ready to downsize?