Attendee journey mapping in the digital age

Most professional event organizers understand the importance of mapping the attendee journey to learn customer preferences and behaviors and deliver a better event experience. While event technology can play a crucial role in the mapping process, AMR believes organizers also need a strategy aimed at optimizing the journey as a means to create sustainable value.

Mapping the attendee journey was a consistent theme at Transform USA 2017. Presenters expanded on the relationship between digital technologies and the attendee journey, technologies to use at each touch point, data that organizers can and should collect, and tools for analyzing the data.

How digital technology can transform the attendee experience

Technology figures prominently in Koley Corte’s plans to digitize the attendee journey. “I think about digital touching everything from the moment of creating awareness through acquiring our customers, activating them, engaging them, extending that relationship, looking at the results, and continuing that journey with them,” says the former Senior Vice President, Head of Digital (Americas) at Reed Exhibitions.

The data that Reed derives from its digital journey mapping efforts is plowed back into three areas: improving the attendee experience, enhancing the value of the event to the customer, and enabling Reed’s internal team to have “the right people focus on the right things with talent, culture, and tools,” Corte explains.

Aligning technology with the attendee journey

As if to demonstrate to Transform USA attendees what the alignment of event technologies with the attendee journey looks like, several sponsor firms helped bring the concept to life. The graphic below illustrates how technology can be used to gather attendee data throughout the event lifecycle, such as:

  • Initial interest (website)
  • Demographics (registration)
  • How the event is valued (social promotion)
  • Interests and preferences (networking, matchmaking, second-screen apps)
  • Satisfaction and relevance (survey software)


Using the attendee journey to make the sale

At corporate events, one of the primary purposes of mapping the attendee journey and collecting data is to move customers closer to the sale. “Data is what moves people through pipelines,” says Scott Schenker, Vice President, Strategic Events at ServiceNow.

Thus, Schenker explains, the attendee data that corporate event marketers seek (from their events and third-party events in which they exhibit) needs to include:

  • Demographics (who are you?)
  • Diagnostics (was the event relevant?)
  • Activities (what were you interested in?)
  • Intent (what do you plan to do as the result of this event?)
  • Impact (what did you actually do as the result of this event?)

Also, corporate event marketers want data from the attendee journey in real time. “I need to tell the people in my booth there’s a deal happening with this [attendee]right now or their net promoter score of us is ‘x’ or it’s a managed account and this is who the account manager is,” Schenker explains.

In the corporate event marketing use case, data from event technologies must eventually flow into or integrate with the company’s CRM to produce the kind of real-time insights marketers require.

Converting attendee data into actionable intelligence

According to Ailis McKernan, AMR’s Head of Digital, “Most practitioners of attendee journey mapping agree that a common breakdown in the process occurs in the analytics phase in which data from the various technologies becomes trapped in silos.” Ailis adds, “This is an issue across numerous industries and one AMR has helped with both within and outside of events.”

Freeman is working to remedy the data conversion challenge with a platform they call Quant. Its purpose is to aggregate data from the multiple event-technology platforms, develop insights, and benchmark them against 15 years of historical data the company has collected.

Quant is a “solutions platform” to help organizers design event metrics, insights, and benchmarks to orchestrate the “perfect experience” for customers, explains Haluk Kulin, Senior Vice President, Strategy & Data at FreemanXP.

Optimizing the attendee journey

Even with the technology and tools available, many organizers still struggle with optimizing the attendee journey to generate sustainable value. AMR believes an optimization strategy would move organizers through four important phases:

1. Initial assessment—looking at current key productivity indicators (KPIs), reviewing target objectives, examining existing attendee-communication tactics

2. Target-operating model (TOM)—establishing desired objectives and success metrics

3. Current capabilities review—surveying internal and external resources available

4. Action plan—designing the appropriate process for achieving the target-operating model

Naturally, attendees are essential to the growth of events. In summary, the modern framework for ensuring that events meet attendee needs must employ digital technologies at every touch point. It must also deliver rich data insights for organizers and corporate event marketers, utilize advanced tools for converting data into actionable intelligence, and apply a cohesive strategy for generating value. By doing so, organizers will retain their competitiveness and appeal to far greater and more engaged audiences.

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