What Drives Event Attendance? Hint: It’s Not What You Think.

What are the primary drivers of event attendance?

While the prevailing wisdom from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) for many years has been that event attendees go to shop and to learn, those aren’t the only factors.

Other reasons include coming to see what is new, having a chance to interact with experts in their field and gaining industry insights.

If organizers expand their show strategy to address these other attendee needs, there is an opportunity not only to differentiate an event but also increase the likelihood of faster show growth.

Findings from the Inside the Mind of Event Attendees survey conducted by Cvent and Edelman provide a path for ways event organizers can deliver more impactful and profitable events through tailored communications and recommendations, enhanced technology and networking opportunities.

Let’s take a closer look at using these available opportunities to drive event attendance.

1) Tailored Communications and Recommendations

The Cvent and Edelman survey polled 3,000 people in the U.S., UK, and Germany who attended a professional conference in the last six months. Findings revealed 59 percent of respondents would welcome recommendations based on their interests or past conference behavior.

For organizers, the idea of tailored communications and recommendations reaches far and wide. For example, one strategy to adopt is the concept of encouraging registered attendees to advocate on behalf of the event, which could include promoting event attendance to their networks through email invitations or social referrals on platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.

Because 92 percent of consumers around the world say they trust word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising, this form of personalized invitation can be especially impactful.

The Cvent and Edelman study also supported this idea. Second to event emails, friends and colleagues are the top sources of information for an event for U.S. and U.K. attendees (22 percent and 15 percent respectively).

Another idea to improve the overall experience that Andrew Sheivachman writes about at Skift is through tailored programming versus leaving attendees to choose from session summaries. Again, recommendations from attendees or speakers play a role in helping to tailor decisions. These kinds of tailored recommendations could also be addressed through event technology enhancements, which leads to the next idea.

2) Enhanced Technology

According to the Cvent and Edelman study, three in four attendees download the event app, if they’re made aware that one is available – showing many more attendees have embraced mobile experiences at live events.

The study also found that event app adoption can lead to event attendance growth. According to the study, 53 percent of those who downloaded an event app indicated that they were likely to attend more events within the year.

Not only does an event app satisfy attendees’ needs to have session information available at their fingertips (important to 47 percent of attendees in the study), but it also removes the stress around navigating an event’s logistics – making it easier to spend focused time around their priorities.

3) Expanded Networking Opportunities

While this has long been a priority for event attendees, combining tailored and personalized communications with enhanced technology provides organizers with additional ways to expand traditional networking opportunities.

As one example, some organizers have incorporated collaborative learning sessions into their conferences and events. Gone are the days of attendees swapping business cards or trying to strike up a cold conversation in a crowded reception. Instead, there are now different platforms that harness enhanced technology to bring like-minded attendees together for more effective networking.

To increase show growth in a competitive learning environment, event organizers must continue to innovate to meet the varying needs of attendees. Adopting tailored communications and recommendations, embracing technology and continuing to expand networking are three areas to explore.

Contact Gleanin for a demo to learn more about the role of social referral marketing as part of a tailored communication and recommendation initiative.


November 26, 2019

Act on Referral-Marketing Data to Grow Your Event and Your Organization

Accurate and relevant data from referral-marketing platforms can aid decision-making, inform marketing campaigns, and g[...]

November 21, 2019

Gleanin and CustomReg Announce Partnership

LONDON, UK--Referral marketing technology provider Gleanin and Custom Registration, Inc. (CustomReg), developers of event registration solutions, have[...]

October 30, 2019

Lessons in Boosting Attendance from NAB Show Marketers

In case you missed it, Gleanin’s webinar, Case Study: Lessons in Boosting Attendance from NAB Show Marketers, received high marks from attendees. Th[...]