When Is The Last Time You Actually Talked To Your Attendees?

Meeting professionals communicate all the time with attendees. From sending pre-meeting promotional emails to posting organizational social media updates to distributing post-meeting surveys, there seems to be a healthy exchange of information. However, there’s one big problem with today’s definition of communication: it’s not a true two-way street, according to Rick Jones, CEO & Captain of FishBait Marketing. At the PCMA Education Conference in St. Louis on Monday, June 27, Jones had one simple question for the audience.

“When was the last time we actually talked to our attendees?” Jones asked.

Jones believes that businesses have an unhealthy addiction to automation, and that creates a serious challenge. Sure, survey results can help meeting professionals gain a good understanding of how satisfied attendees are with educational sessions, but soliciting this type of feedback isn’t going to generate the type of creative thinking the conference industry needs. This creativity is especially crucial when it comes to developing innovative sponsorship offerings. Jones told the Education Conference audience that the current sponsorship landscape is too much about “me” — with “me” referring to the sponsor rather than the attendee or consumer. Rather than simply giving sponsors whatever they want, Jones said that meeting professionals must invest more time and energy to determine what attendees have on their lists. Then, sponsors can help make those dream experiences happen. Jones knows plenty about sponsorships, too. His current client list includes names such as Sony Music, Capital One and the Country Music Awards. What happens when he and the team at FishBait actually talk to the fans and attendees participating in events sponsored by his clients? There’s a powerful trickle-down impact.

“Conversation leads to discovery,” Jones said. “Discovery leads to opportunity. Opportunity leads to ideas. Ideas lead to solutions.”

Interested in hearing more of the conversation from the PCMA Education Conference? Follow the community on Twitter, and be sure to sign up for the complimentary rebroadcast of some of the most popular sessions on July 14.