Nov. 29, 2017
Written by Katie Sawyer and originally published on the Eventbrite blog
Relentless rainstorms, horrific bathroom situations, excessive lines. Your event’s reputation is built on the quality of the experience you deliver. If the reality of your event differs significantly from the vision you sold — preventably or otherwise — you’d better be armed with a strong communication plan to address your attendees.
No matter how much preparation and planning goes into an event, you know there’s going to be an element of the unexpected. It’s a pain point every event organizer deals with. But the best organizers build a communication plan that carries them through (almost) any situation.
Here’s a breakdown of how to build your proactive communication plan — and why you and your attendees will be grateful you have it.
Building your proactive communication plan
Ongoing strategic communication is at the heart of launching and scaling successful events. While you can’t guarantee that everything will go exactly to plan at your event, you need to be prepared to communicate eloquently and effectively with your attendees. These are the five main points to building your proactive communication plan.
1. Identify potential issues
Poor ticket sales, performer or vendor drop-outs, weather, and traffic/transportation issues might all be on your list. Identify your biggest potential risks by looking at past events and drawing on the experiences of your team.
2. Work ahead
Create canned email and social media messages in advance so you’re not starting with a blank page. Simply tailor the message to the specific situation, and hit send faster.
3. Think about delivery
Decide who should address the issue for each potential mishap. Does the CEO need to make a statement? Someone from the public relations team? When? What channels should you use?
4. Draft your responses
Have a process in mind for responding to attendees’ posts on social media. You’ll likely get lots of questions and comments, so be prepared on how you want to answer and address them consistently.
5. Plan to communicate early and often
Silence is deafening and often the gap you leave by saying nothing will be filled by speculation, ridiculous rumors, and attendee dissatisfaction. Even if you don’t have all the answers, reassure people that you hear them, you’re working on it, and always stay true to your promises. In short, do what you say you will.
How technology can help
As you think about your communication plan, work with your service partner to incorporate your event app. Even a basic event app can help you communicate with your attendees in real time, like sending them alerts about changes to the event schedule, or long wait-times.
Event apps can help you distribute news quickly to your attendees, making sure they have the most important information at all times.
Some festivals have taken apps one step further, using AI (artificial intelligence) to boost communications. One such festival is Sound on Sound Fest, a three-day music, camping, and adventure festival at a Renaissance fair in Texas. In 2016, they created a customer service plugin through Facebook Messenger to answer fans queries.
To remain calm and in control, you have to have the right processes and technologies in place from the start. For even more tips on how to de-stress attendees in a hectic situation, download this free proactive communication guide.
The payoff of proactive event communications
The recent — and very public — failures of several new festivals have proven the need to create a proactive communication plan. Your festival won’t survive if you attract attendees with marketing that sells more than you deliver — and then let them down with the experience onsite.
“What makes or breaks an event experience is having a deep understanding of the community you’re creating — and being intentional about it,” says Tommy Goodwin, Eventbrite’s director of global field services. “Because you are creating a community. I don’t think every event organizer thinks about it that way, but the good ones do. And for the best ones, that’s their goal.”
With the right communication strategy in place, you can better deliver the event experience your attendees crave — and expect.
Communicating with your attendees about event logistics is just as important as keeping them informed when something unexpected happens. Having the right strategy in place will help you keep cool and manage your attendees’ expectations.
Check out How to Create a Proactive Communication Plan to save time during a predicament and provide above-and-beyond customer service.