How to Build an Attendee Journey

Viewers watching the show. Long exposure shot.

Remember what it’s like to be an attendee of an event? You’re a spectator, watching and listening, hoping to walk away with some sort of call-to-action. Maybe it’s putting the information you learned into use or feeling more motivated to continue to do what you do every day, even better. Whatever the case, you attend these events hoping to gain something new and to be inspired.

So how do we as event marketers, ensure that most (if not all) of our attendees feel more connected to our brand; prepared for the future ahead; recognized for their achievements; or feel re-energized for a brand new year?

It’s simple. We build an Attendee Journey. An Attendee Journey is our holistic approach where we immerse ourselves into the mindset of the audience while also keeping in mind the objectives and messaging that we want to communicate. It’s the perfect blend of designing a campaign that delivers measurable results and potentially new behaviors. It goes beyond a simple production of an event by transforming a traditional ballroom into an environment immersed with your brand and messaging, staging that stirs excitement, stunning graphics that convey visual stories and compelling speakers whose energy radiates into the attendees.

Below are just a few key insights that will help you develop an Attendee Journey that delivers engaging experiences that inspire lasting results.

Know Your Audience
Who are they and what are their mindsets?

Set Objectives and Envision Success
What kind of campaign?
What does success look like and how will it be measured?
Are your objectives measurable? (ROI, ROO, ROE)

Design with Purpose
How will attendees be engaged?
Are there any compelling industry trends that you can integrate into the program?
Is the message woven through the entire event?
How will you extend the message beyond the event?

Want to learn more about building an Attendee Journey? Contact us at or check out how we did it for one of our clients: Global Conference Case Study


Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation



It’s no secret that the attention span of the average B2B attendee is shrinking. And why shouldn’t it? With increasing access of mobile phones and Internet, we have access to massive amounts of data and information flowing through our fingertips with every tap of our mobile devices. Additionally, the audience demographics are shifting as more millennials take their seats in general sessions. The millennial generation is significantly more connected to technology than any before them, so the way they consume information will be unlike generations past. And don’t always assume that “millennial” is based on age; the definition also includes habits and lifestyle. A 56-year-old can very well have adopted millennial behaviors.

So how can we engage this rapidly growing audience of millennials? It’s likely you already know some of these tips. It’s more important to start doing them.

Rise Above the Noise
With so much going on (technology, social media, etc.) you’re going to have to do something that grabs their attention. As a tech-savvy group, an easy way to engage a millennial is to bring a digital solution to your event. Millennials love to connect with people and interact on the cloud. Take advantage of the device they are already carrying and use it to communicate your messages and connect them to your brand. Whether it’s adding a mobile app or introducing gamification based on your brand, make sure it’s relevant and serves a clear purpose… and more importantly, that it has some sort of action. Millennials don’t just want to be handed information. They want to interact and be involved. This could include be live polling, games, check-ins, networking and discussion boards.

Short and Sweet
The average millennial stops listening at the 30-minute mark so keep presentations short and avoid busy-looking PowerPoint slides. A great lesson comes from TED Talks: not only are the presentations a mere 18 minutes, the speakers are generally engaging and humanize their content. And let them talk. Millennials are active participants so they want to be heard. Before a presentation, ask them what they want to hear about. Allowing them the opportunity to voice their interests gives you the ability to craft a keynote that is important to them.

Network, Network, Network
Allow ample time for networking. If there’s one thing millennials are really good at, it’s networking. They do it all the time on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. They crave the chance to meet people.

Experience of a Lifetime
Millennials want to be more than spectators; they want to be a part of experiences. In other words, don’t talk at them about your brand. Instead, infuse them into your brand. You’ll be pleased to know that by practicing this, millennials will carry out marketing and promotions of your brand for you. How? There are a number of ways to do this…let them take photos of themselves with your brand and post it on Instagram. Or let them play with your brand physically. Live demonstrations are also more interesting than diagrams and charts.

How have you engaged your millennial audience?

Build It and They Will Come





Visionary Walt Disney was a smart man and a master of both observation and action. One of the most powerful lessons he taught was, “You don’t build it for yourself. You know what the people want and you build it for them.”

I recently read an article from the Disney Institute based on this very lesson called, Leadership Lessons from Walt Disney: Perfecting the Customer Experience.

What struck me in this article was this particular paragraph: “OK, so how can we truly know what the people want? The simple answer is to treat them as though they are guests in our own homes, and ask them face-to-face… not by a survey or on-line chat. Think about it. We would never welcome guests into our own home for a dinner party and then ‘manage the event’ from across the street, or even across the hallway. No, we would join in the mix and ask our guests what they would like to drink, or eat, or watch on television.”

In today’s technology-driven world, we rely heavily on providing feedback behind a facade, which we all call online. One could argue that people are more honest in anonymous feedback or the protection of their computer; however, face-to-face interaction makes an experience more personal and genuine. It also gives you a well-rounded, in-depth understanding of what your attendees actually want. With the right kind of people asking the questions – ones who  are unbiased and friendly – human connections can encourage people to want to talk about their feelings and perspectives. Even if you don’t have someone asking attendees questions, you can have these scouts milling around an event to hear what people are saying and observing their behavior. Being among the crowd will provide you with better actionable insight than an online survey or feedback forum ever could. It also gives you the chance to be the attendee. Only then can you experience exactly what your attendees are experiencing.

So how do you know what your attendees want? In Walt’s words: “Get out there, be willing to listen, and then institutionalize learning and continuous improvement on behalf of your customers [read: attendees].”

The “Selfie” Phenomena Exposed

Photo by Lisa RosePhoto by Lisa Rose (courtesy of Biz Bash site)

I’m the first to admit that I did not understand the “selfie” craze. I found it narcissistic, attention-seeking and silly… but then I realized, hey! This is PERFECT for brand marketing. Why? Because it’s all connected… socially, of course.

Go through your Facebook and find a selfie of a friend. Don’t worry, I know you’ll find one – I found 6 in the first 10 seconds of going through my feed. Now imagine if that person used hashtags for the reasons why they’re taking a selfie – i.e. maybe they’re standing in line at Starbucks, or maybe they just got a new hairdo at the hippest place in town, Hip Hair. For our sake, let’s use the latter – #justgotmyhairdone #HipHair. This same person has posted it on Instagram too, using the same hashtags. This innocent selfie has reached out to everyone on her Facebook and Instagram feed. Additionally, people (even those who aren’t following her) are likely re-pinning her photo on Instagram. Those inspired by her haircut may even decide to go to Hip Hair next time they need a haircut. Your friend has just unknowingly promoted Hip Hair to hundreds of people without Hip Hair lifting a single finger.

So how does this relate to your programs?

Let’s face it, people are likely going to take selfies at your event since that is the “in” thing to do, so let’s take control of the situation by providing selfie stations for them. Set up heavily branded booths throughout the venue or in the registration area that encourage attendees to take selfies with your brand and post them on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook with appropriate hashtags so that you can track and measure its success.

Make It a Game or Competition
Games and competition are always a great way to motivate people to participate. Infuse competitive elements like seeing whose selfie can get the most comments or likes.

Make It Part of the Décor
All posted selfie shots are gathered and displayed as digital eye candy for a walk-in loop, candids video or awards evening. People like to see their 15 seconds of fame on a large screen.

Get People to Interact With Your Product
Have fun props and/or actual products attendees can hold and pose with for their selfie.

Give them something in return and perhaps reward the first 100 people who take a selfie with your brand.

Are you a self-iever? Was that too far? Hey, it can catch on… Belieber did.

Amanda Retter, Marketing, InVision Communications 

What All the Fuss Is Really About

A few weeks ago, I was shopping for gifts in the Union Square, San Francisco. This area is always filled with exciting events, but this weekend was unusually busy. With a female-dominant crowd throughout, I asked what all of the commotion was about? These teenage girls flying around as if they were kids seeing a candy shop for the first time. Only it wasn’t a candy shop…hundreds of girls were waiting for a teenage actor/model to arrive. Shocking, right?

I had never seen so much energy take place in one area. But interestingly enough, after a few minutes passed and the teenage pop star arrived, the energy dissipated. Now, he was known, present, and there were no surprises anymore. Why? Because now they knew what to expect. They knew what he was wearing, where he was, and all that was left was his presence.

Think about this in the event industry. This is what we want! The surprises, the unknown and being one step ahead of the consumer or customer, so they always stay on their toes and are blown away by the overall experience. How can you translate this to your next event? How can you take the event one step further whether it is in scenic, creative, or the post-event experience?

Nicole Martin, Marketing 

It’s All in the Presentation

Top Chef is a ritual in my household. It’s far more than just beautiful food – it has everything. Drama. Suspense. Creative improvisation. Champions and come-back-kids. Live polling. And viewer-based voting in the parallel web series Last Chance Kitchen.

What can a reality show about cooking possibly have to do with events, you ask?  Answer: just about everything.

It’s episodic: Crack the Da Vinci code for events and tell a story that makes people want to know what happens next. Deliver information in chunks, make it human and leave them hanging. Give them a reason to tune back in. 

The audience matters: People get to vote to determine outcomes. Don’t just poll.  Create scenarios where the audience actually gets to decide what happens.

There’s a winner: Competition – and fandom – are two essential parts of human nature. Gamification is fun. The ability to win a prize is much better. 

How can competitive reality TV boost excitement and engagement at your next event? 

Getting to “Why”

This month, Angie Smith, Director of Client Solutions and Marketing, and I headed to Event Tech in Las Vegas to deliver a presentation on “Developing a Successful Event Playbook.”

Our presentation really wasn’t about the tactics and platforms used in designing an actual digital event playbook. Our focus was on the way InVision develops digital campaigns around live events.

Our approach isn’t new or revolutionary, nor is it one we can claim as our own. Developing a successful digital event playbook requires that, first and foremost, you start with an understanding of the “why.”

Many of you may be familiar with Simon Sinek’s TED talk. For those of you who aren’t, Sinek is known for a concept he developed called the “golden circle,” an approach used to successfully inspire audiences to action. He believes that most companies start with the “what” (the tactics), and that many know “how” they go about defining their tactics, but very few companies know their “why.”

We all know any successful digital campaign requires a well thought-out strategy. Clearly outlined goals and objectives that are measureable. But at InVision, that’s not where we start… we start with an understanding of why.

And by “why,” we don’t mean to increase revenue, drive attendance, or even increase app downloads – those are outcomes. By “why,” we mean defining things such as:

  • What emotion are you trying to evoke?
  • What belief are you trying to ignite?
  • What are you trying to inspire?

And ultimately… why should your audience even care?

For those of you who may have missed our session at EventTech this year, we’d like to invite you learn more about how some of the best brands in the world achieve success by starting with the “why” in designing their digital event strategies.

Nicole Bojic, Senior Digital Strategist, InVision Communications




If it’s not broken, break it

I share this month’s “How IVC-ee” article a mere 5 hours after hosting 15 of InVision’s top-tier clients for an experiential event in New York City. As each client shared a final thought to close the program’s discussion, one idea in particular resonated with the entire group – “If it’s not broken, break it.”


Companies are constantly looking to InVision, seeking breakthroughs and innovation. But here are three resources that you may not have considered, right under your nose.

1. Brainstorming with New Hires

Their fresh, bright young minds haven’t been jaded by years of experience and recycled ideas. New hires are eager to learn, but can often bring their own intelligence about varied perspective from competitors or consumers. Take your newbies to lunch; pick their brains about their former positions or academic history – their insight might surprise you and spark some inspiration for changes.

2. Feedback & Surveys

Take the feedback your staff and attendees give you seriously. Instead of simply compiling “1 = Strongly Disagree; 5 = Strongly Agree” results and plugging them into meaningless graphs, develop robust questions that will provoke substantial responses. In a sea of blank pages, you’re bound to discover an innovative idea worth considering.

3. Shift Your Teammates

Individuals work best together when personalities mesh and professional expectations align. We tend to gravitate toward the same working groups time and time again, as we become comfortable with our teammates’ skillset and knowledge. But exploring the untapped talent of a colleague you haven’t worked with before can lead to magic and a break from the predictable and expected.

So explore, listen and remain open-minded. The innovation you’re seeking could be closer to you than you thought.

Nicole Martin, Marketing, InVision Communications

Face Time

The past few years have seen cuts in spending that are now turning around; business travel is back up, as are live meetings. Some recession-era changes were spurred on by dollars alone, but they offered important lessons that endure even as budgets bounce back.


Smaller can be better

Fewer attendees don’t just mean fewer travel accommodations. A more intimate group is just that, and results in more one-on-one connections from the stage to the floor as well as between audience members.  Our digital world puts people in touch, but there’s no replacement for face time.

Stay focused 

Time is at a premium for all of us. There’s no need to stand on ceremony – if an historically 5-day meeting can be done as well in 3, why not shave off a few days? It saves ducats – and shows respect for the attendees’ busy days.

Make it matter

However many people join the event, and however long it takes – connect with them before and make sure the content speaks to them. You have objectives and key messages; they have a primary focus and pressing questions. Ensure that the meeting takes their needs and perspectives into account and you’ll not only have a more reception audience onsite, but one with higher retention rates afterward.




Tips on Reinventing Your Brand

Reinventing your brand can be a scary thing. What if it turns off your current customers? What if it fails? What if you look silly? But as times change and as the market becomes more competitive, taking that leap may be the right decision for you. I’ve noticed a lot of brands throughout the years trying to keep up with the rest and appeal to a wider consumer base. I thought about the ones who have failed and the ones who were successful. What made the successful ones, in fact, successful?

A brand that sticks out to me is Dove, a leader in top soap brands. Their story resonated with me because I didn’t think such a well-known brand might be struggling in the marketplace that they seem to have a solid hand on. But in 2010, Dove realized that they needed to alter their brand and appeal to a wider audience – both men and women. As they reviewed their current brand, they found that their name, logo, and color palette were created with women in mind. This needed to change. But how?

Dove created Men + Care – a new line of personal care products. and a thoughtful, refreshed brand.

Here are some lessons that Dove learned along the way:

  1. Be Disruptive, in a Good Way: It’s good to shake up the market and the paradigm – make a move that will cause your audience to do a double take.
  2. Be on Time: Look at how your market is changing.  Dove was aware of the heightened male consumption and took this into consideration.
  3. Think Outside the Box: Find the connection between your brand and the audience. What is going to appeal to them? How will they relate to it? Dove created a well-packaged shower scrub that would appeal to men and strayed away from the traditional Dove female products – as they met a need, they made a connection.

How would you make your brand more appealing?

Nicole Martin, Marketing, InVision Communications