by Brad Wayland, Chief Strategy Officer, BlueCotton

Client retention is one of the biggest challenges in event management. How do you ensure both customers and attendees remain satisfied enough that they keep coming back?

As an event management professional, one of the biggest challenges you’ll face is the question of how to retain clients. How do you keep your attendees satisfied? How do you ensure your guests will want to keep coming back to your conferences and trade shows?

Don’t worry – it’s actually a lot easier than you’d think. Like everything else in your industry, it’s all about how you relate to people. And that’s where we come in.

Let’s talk about a few of the ways you can ensure your clients stick with you through thick and thin.

1. Talk – And Listen – To Your Attendees and Staff

The most important element of client retention is simple communication. Maintain an ongoing dialogue between clients, event attendees, and event staff. Engage with your clients directly over social media, and sit down with your staff after each event you run to listen to their thoughts.

What did you do well? What did you do poorly? What could have gone better? These are all questions you’ll need to answer.

This communication should go beyond handing out surveys after an event. Watch what your fans are saying on social media, and connect with them there. Have staff reach out to talk to any guests who look like they’re unhappy, bored, or uncomfortable. In short, be proactive – address problems before they become problems wherever possible.

2. Only Change What Obviously Doesn’t Work

While it’s true that you should always be scanning for potential problems, it’s also important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak. What I’m trying to say here is that not all feedback is going to be valuable to your team at all times. If you see something pop up regularly in your event surveys, then there’s a good chance it’s a legitimate pain point.

If just a single guest has unkind things to say about a speaker that’s received praise from everyone else, you can probably ignore that feedback – they might just be having a bad day.

While we’re on the topic, don’t change everything overnight. To be truly successful, change takes time. It’s something you need to implement gradually. Try to change too much too fast, and you might well crash and burn.

3. Personalize Your Marketing

You’ve likely heard the mantra before, but as an event manager, your job is about managing people as much as it is running events. To that end, you should personalize your marketing and media towards your ideal attendee. Design the experience your events offer so that they resonate with your most valued customers.

4. Keep Up Your Momentum

Another critical element of retaining your clientele is to establish momentum with your events – to constantly keep people aware of the next event you’ve got planned. If you’re hosting a recurring event, inform attendees about the next time they can attend. Drop hints about upcoming shows and speakers on social media. Recommend events that you think attendees at one of your events might be interested in.

Basically, always stay active.

5. Never Stop Evaluating

Last but certainly not least – and this might seem a bit obvious to some – always strive to be better. Keep a close eye on your event-related analytics to see if you can identify pain points. Think about the different ways you can enhance your marketing. The moment you grow complacent and think you’ve got nothing left to learn or improve on is the moment you’ve lost.

People Are Your Lifeblood

There you have it. The advice above gives you everything you need to keep your clients satisfied. The rest is up to you.

Brad Wayland is the Chief Strategy Officer at BlueCotton, a site with high-quality, easy-to-design custom t-shirts.