Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

February 22 2016

Why The Element Of Surprise Is Essential To Attendee Engagement

David McMillin



Before arriving on-site for a meeting or trade show, attendees know where they need to be at nearly every minute of the day. Thanks to advance programs and detailed mobile applications, they already know who they’ll see, what they’ll learn and where they’ll go before they even pick up their name badges. While all this information is helpful, it can also create a challenge in keeping attendees guessing at what kind of surprises might be waiting around the corner.

To keep the audience engaged at the Asia-Pacific Incentives & Meetings Expo (AIME), the Melbourne Convention Bureau collaborated with Event Management Group (EMG) to do something different for attendees: they kept a secret. As more than 4,000 planners and suppliers have been gearing up for AIME, none of them have known what to expect for the Welcome Event. Sure, the theme — ‘One Year in Melbourne in One Night’ — has been unveiled, but attendees are missing one big detail. They don’t know the venue. They only know it’s within a five-minute walk of the convention centre, and more importantly, they know that they’re in for an unforgettable celebration. 

““We have taken on a mammoth task to showcase one year in Melbourne in one night and we’re excited by what has been created,” Karen Bolinger, CEO, Melbourne Convention Bureau, says. “Melbourne’s buzzing events scene, sophisticated food and wine and unique culture have been considered and combined to create what will be a truly memorable evening.”

MORE: Discover What Makes Melbourne The Center Of Australia’s Innovation

Surprise Leads To Success 

So why keep the location a secret? “It turns out that the element of surprise has a big impact on how we feel from moment to moment and that we’re happier when satisfied unexpectedly instead of certain of a positive outcome in advance, according to a new mathematical model of happiness,” Meeri Kim wrote for The Washington Post in her coverage of the findings of a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

While AIME attendees know they’ll connect with old friends, meet new business contacts and enjoy the fine flavors of Melbourne, the level of uncertainty surrounding where the event will be held can create a bigger sense of satisfaction after it’s over. It also helps before the event in efforts to build buzz and increase attendance. Bolinger highlighted that ticket sales for the $150 event surged two weeks prior to the date. 

MORE: Why Medical Meeting Planners Are Counting On Melbourne For Global Attendance

Introduce Melbourne’s Sense Of Mystery To Your Attendees

Interested in taking your meeting to Melbourne? Now is the perfect time. PCMA recently announced its first Citywide Auction outside the United States. Meeting planners can submit an opening bid of $125,000 for the Melbourne Citywide Auction package, valued at $350,000. Learn more here.

Brought to you by Melbourne Convention Bureau.

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