I’ve been doing research into and thinking about the mass-personalization wave that is dramatically changing what and how we buy as consumers. I’ve learned that personalization can be achieved in a number of ways:
Customers get exactly what meets their preferences or needs. In other words, they can order a tailor-made shirt to ﬁt their body measurements perfectly in the style, fabric, and color of their choice.
Customers can make certain choices that best meet their preferences. For example, when purchasing a laptop, they can choose the color, hard-drive size, processor, and pre-loaded software.
3. Interfaces matter
Whether customers are interacting with a website, an app, or a human, that transaction is a critical component to delivering a personalized experience. It can’t be impersonal or overly mechanical.
4. Smart recommendations
The business needs to learn from the behaviors, preferences, and past actions of customers to deliver intelligent and relevant advice.
So How Does This Apply to Conferences?
Realistically, organizers seeking to improve the attendee experience through a personalization strategy should focus their efforts on items 2 through 4 above. In my opinion, the ﬁrst item — individualizing a conference experience for every attendee — isn’t scalable today.
But most conferences are already designed to be conﬁgurable by providing attendees with options — con-current sessions, pre-conference workshops, and ticketed functions, for example. To increase conﬁgurability, consider offering additional learning experiences that are bite-sized (15 minutes) or deep-dive (two-plus hours). Identify which two or three audience segments would ﬁnd each session most relevant. Tracks or learning pathways are most intuitive when they are problem-based, not role- or function-based.
And as far as interfaces are concerned, our industry has come a long way in improving utility with web-based itinerary-building tools and attendee mobile apps, and that will only continue to improve when more are able to sync across devices. As we’ve become more efficient, most conferences have focused less on the human touch, but the human interface can be a greater competitive advantage than any conﬁgurable tool or app. Look for ways to treat participants as unique individuals by embracing radical hospitality and concierge-like services
Dave Lutz, CMP, is managing director of Velvet Chainsaw Consulting, velvetchainsaw.com.