It’s almost too easy to forget amid all the moving parts of event planning and management that there’s a human element, too. It’s important to express your appreciation for everyone involved in pulling off an amazing event in order to communicate to all involved that they’re valuable to you and instrumental to the event. These simple ways to show customer appreciation can help secure repeat business, improve the overall atmosphere at the event, and build stronger relationships.
1. Anticipate Needs
Whether you’re hosting or attending an event, you can always find a way to communicate that you’re thinking ahead for your clients or attendees. The standard for this is usually set by the local hotels. They provide a welcome packet that includes information on wifi access, places to see, and things to do in town. You can provide the same information for your event as well as things staff picks of the local restaurants, reiterate key contacts for your organization, weather forecasts for the duration of the event, directions to the nearest convenience store, etc. Anticipating people’s needs ahead of time (or even informing them of things they wouldn’t have thought of themselves) speaks quite pointedly to how much you care about those who are involved in your event.
2. Make a Personal Gesture
It’s really easy to fall into business mode when you’re attending or hosting an event. You know the drill: grab up all those business cards, track those leads, collect that data. But what’s often forgotten is that when you’re doing this you’re working with people—real people. Take the time to do something on a personal level that communicates that you can empathize and that you’re not just a business machine. Carry gum with you to share. Offer to buy someone coffee. Give someone a company pen just because. And—especially when you’re hosting an event—follow the Ten-Five Rule. If someone is within ten feet of you then acknowledge them with a kind gesture. If someone passes within five feet of you then make some sort of verbal acknowledgement of their presence. Say ‘hi.’ This rule may seem small or cumbersome but it goes a long way in communicating to people that they’re noticed and not just lost in the crowd. It’s a huge morale boost back home in the office, too.
3. Give Them the Inside Scoop
You know what makes gossip such powerful stuff socially—why people can’t resist it? It’s not the stuff that you’re gossiping about. It’s actually what’s communicated by the act. When you gossip you’re really telling someone, “Hey, you and me are on the inside of this little secret and I trust you enough to tell you about it.” Now, I’m not saying that you should invent some scandalous gossip to boost your event’s ratings. However, you can capitalize on the principle. Create a feature of your event that is just for your most valued clients or attendees and then share it with those happy few. That implied exclusivity tells people that they’re special to you.
4. Listen Actively
Give your customers (and even the people helping to run the event) a platform to voice their opinions. And then listen to them. And then do something about it. Nothing communicates more loudly to folks that you value their input than acting on their input.
5. Say ‘Thank You’
This is kind of a no-brainer. If you want people to know that you appreciate them then tell them. Take every opportunity to thank people who were involved in one way or another with your event. Make a really big deal about it, too. In August at the Great American Trucking Show the folks running the event made sure to hang huge banners, set up signs, and even publish ads in a few magazines to say ‘thank you’ to attendees and exhibitors. And even if all of that seems somewhat out of reach, just looking someone in the eye and sharing a sincere ‘thank you for being a part of this’ goes a long way.