While many marketers look forward to events as a phenomenal way to connect directly with your customers on a face to face basis, others have grown wary of the lugubrious and intensive process required to plan, execute, and recover from a major event. Marketers can confront many of their events’ biggest challenges and ensure that it remains a win-win scenario for all involved but it takes planning and sensitivity to your participants needs… on both sides of the booth.

Why fly halfway across the country when you can group videoconference?

The participation in a major event such as a conference or trade show is a far cry from just checking into the office at 9 am and leaving at 5 pm on the dot, as events require a massive outlay of time, energy, effort, and resources. Some marketers which have attended their fair share of events may question whether the entire process is efficient, affordable, or even necessary. Technological innovations such as videoconferencing have been very successful in minimizing the amount of physical travel necessary for conventional meetings, and at a time when group conferencing facilities such as Google Hangouts provide a one click way to hold an instant symposium, seminar, or town hall meeting how necessary is it to pack up half your office, fly halfway across the country, spend days locked up in your booth, suffer severe indigestion from the standard event fare of cold burgers and greasy pizza, and take the chance of bringing bedbugs home with you on top of all that?

The famous United Airlines commercial says it all

In 1990 United Airlines aired a commercial which still resounds with its business insight nearly a quarter century later. In a conference room a company owner announces that they’ve just lost a long-term client and he knows why:

“We used to do business with a handshake, face to face, now it’s a phone call and a fax. Get back to you later, with another fax.”

Then the owner hands out airline tickets to each of his reps and tells them to go out there and go see their clients in the flesh. All you need to do in order to update this commercial is to replace fax with your choice of online communications medium and you’ll see how it is still amply applicable today. Technology is amazingly efficient, cost-effective, and empowers marketers like nothing ever before it, but there is still no substitute for direct physical presence for the creation and maintenance of a business relationship.

You cannot distill human communication to 140 sterile characters

A major event isn’t just an excuse to escape the family and engage in after-hours debauchery, it’s a way for your entire brand to connect with your customers in a way that a tweet never could. You cannot distill the essence of human interpersonal communication to 140 sterile characters, and in order to forge the type of relationship which is being facilitated by the prevalence of social media it is necessary to be able to actually get out there and press the flesh of real live customers. Although you may have millions of customers all over the world, the “reality” which is brought to your brand through a presence at a major trade show or similar event will create gossamer strands of relationship bonding which will make your brand “real” to your customers and equally importantly will make your customer base “real” to your own staff.

The key to a successful event in all considerations is to ensure that your participation is strictly devised to bring the maximum value to everyone involved on both sides of the business equation. Your employees need to understand that the event is an advantageous experience which will allow them to gain a greater insight into the lifeblood of any business: Its customers. At the same time the customers must be presented with a perfectly professional, competent, authoritative, courteous, and impeccable interaction with your brand which will satisfy their needs and justify their loyalty. By keeping your focus on this aspect you will make your next event a success rather than a hassle.