Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

October 14 2015

Why You Need To Start Placing A Lot More Emphasis On The End Of Your Meeting

By David McMillin

Attendees are listening to the closing general session speaker. They’re almost finished with a three-day program, and they’ve already checked out of the hotel. It’s nearly time for the meetings team to relax, right? Not quite. It turns out that the end of an experience is also arguably the most crucial factor that impacts satisfaction.

On Wednesday at the Skift Global Forum in Brooklyn, Rick Wise, CEO of global brand strategy and design consultancy firm Lippincott, told an audience of 800 leaders in the travel industry that they need to do a better job of focusing on the finishing touches of interacting with guests, passengers and attendees.

“We do a lot of work in the first part, in our efforts to build their anticipation,” Wise said. “We know how to get them into the purchase funnel, but we aren’t as good when it comes to the after portion.”

Wise highlighted the importance of “ending strong” — making the end of the experience as welcoming and inviting as the first part. For example, he referenced award-winning luxury travel company, Black Tomato, which helps travelers plan incredible trips like a safari in Zambia, skiing in Scandinavia and heli-surfing in New Zealand. Naturally, the company knows how to get prospective travelers excited enough to pay to book one of these expensive trips. However, Black Tomato isn’t just good at sending compelling marketing messaging that entices travelers to enter their credit card information. They’re equally skilled at reinforcing why they entered those numbers in the first place. At the end of the trip, Black Tomato gives travelers vouchers for take-out food and laundry service. Think about what you dread when you arrive home: an empty refrigerator and a pile of dirty laundry. Black Tomato makes the painful return to reality hurt less, and in the process, helps those travelers remember why they love booking travel through the company.

So what does this mean for meeting attendees? You may not be able to arrange personalized laundry service for all of your attendees, but there are simple opportunities to send them home with a reminder of why they love your organization. How about a coupon for a drink at the airport bar while they wait for flights? What about a $10 Starbucks gift card they can use the next morning when they’re feeling a bit sluggish before the return to the office? If the audience is small enough, how about a handwritten thank-you postcard? There are so many ways to send your attendees home with more than education credits and a pile of business cards. Give them a lasting memory of why they should save the date on their calendars to be part of your experience again.

“Stretch your definition of the experience you’re delivering,” Wise said. “Capitalize on the ability to bask in the afterglow.”

Looking for more help to make sure you’re doing everything to help your organization shine in that afterglow? Check out This Is The One Question You Need To Start Asking In Your Post-Event Surveys.

Stay tuned for more practical insights from the Skift Global Forum, and be sure to follow Skift for more travel industry trends.

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