The only good news following the Delta Airlines debacle that led to 650 flight cancellations was that it happened on a Monday – when tens of thousands of travelers were on their way to events, not on their way home from events.
(Because many event organizers still use the old-school post-event e-mail surveys to evaluate how they did, the trip home can have as much to do with what the attendee thought of his or her event experience as anything that happened during the two or three days they were onsite.)
In the entire scope of things, those 650 cancelled flights represent only 10 percent of Delta’s flights that day. However, on an average day, Delta figures into 3,600 social conversations on Twitter. By noon on Monday, the number was closer to 43,000 – and my guess is few of them were complimentary.
How many of the passengers on those 650 flights made a last-minute decision at the airport to cancel their plans to attend the event they were headed for and went back home instead? How many of those getting and receiving the 43,000 tweets about Delta on Monday morning let that figure into the decision they would make this week about whether to attend an event later this year?
Often the process by which a potential event attendee converts to a registered attendee is quite fragile and depends on circumstances beyond your control. A sick child, a suddenly scheduled appointment with a new client, the social media horror story about cancelled Delta flights.
What can you, the organizer, do to get people to your event in this era when anybody can safely wait until the last minute to make a decision about their attendance – and then still change their mind?
- Make your event content vital to the attendee.
- Communicate the urgency of being there to obtain that content and meet the people the attendee needs to meet.
- Build a community that transcends the event, but means so much to its members that they can’t wait to get there to see each other.
- Make the event so important to your community’s constituents that being there is worth the trouble it may take to get there.
Michael Hart is a business consultant and writer who focuses on the event industry. He can be reached at email@example.com.