Event Datamining Helps Association Re-energize Conference Program
- Attendees can indicate session preferences.
- Collect data to improve conference experience.
Most event planners don't have datamining as a priority when evaluating event registration software. But for Michael Nossaman, president of the Protective Security Council, datamining was pretty high on his list when he began looking for online event software to support the Council's annual conference which had been on 'sabbatical' for two years.
"We serve a market segment that's not well covered by other security conference events which mostly focus on information technology (IT) security or—at the opposite end—what many people think of as 'military special ops,'" says Nossaman.
"Our conference is for security professionals who need to know the latest methods and practices for protecting people within their organizations," Nossaman continues. "The Protective Security Conference is an intensive two and a half day event comprised of in-depth seminars, panels, and roundtables conducted by leading authorities in the field. It's designed to expand the scope and depth of critical skills that security pros need to ensure that people in their organizations are operating in safe and secure environments whether at their headquarters or half way around the world in a hot spot."
Finding the Right Tool
Since there'd been a hiatus between conference events, it was important that Nossaman's event registration software package be flexible enough to collect data on more than just general contact information. The Protective Security Council president wanted attendees to be able to choose between conference sessions with topics ranging from "Executive Protection in Asia" to "Managing Threats of Workplace Violence" in part to gauge changes that might have occurred in subject matter interest over the years. The online event registration software had to allow this.
Having this information also would allow him to prepare his speakers, including security experts from McDonald's Corporation, T-Mobile, and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, with lists of attendees who had indicated interest in attending their conference sessions. This meant that speakers could refine their remarks and presentation materials to create a richer conference experience for session attendees.
As an added benefit, knowing what sessions were more popular than others would enable Nossaman to provide better guidance to the meeting facility regarding room size requirements and room set-up.
While event registration software can be designed to do whatever an event planner wants, creating these capabilities often comes at a steep price. Since the Protective Security Council's conference was a re-start, keeping costs in line was of primary importance. Consequently, Nossaman wanted a program that ideally was less expensive than the $2,500 he had paid in the past.
"Ennect Event gives me the ability to present all the relevant conference information online, collect the data I need and, even, integrate with my existing merchant credit card gateway."
Protective Security Council
For marketing purposes, he wanted the event software to present an easily tailored, web-based user interface that could attractively showcase all the conference program details as well as collect and process registrations. And, since he wanted to try using social media to promote his event, having a 'socially-aware' site was another item on the checklist. (Read more about how the Protective Security Council used social media to promote its conference here: http://www.theemarketingblog.com/social-media-expands-awareness-of-security-event/)
"At this point, every dime the conference makes—if it makes anything—goes right back into it," says Nossaman. "There used to be a time when you needed to print 25-to-30,000 copies of a 40-page brochure to get 1,500-to-1,800 people to a conference. With online event marketing you don't have to do that anymore."
Nossaman hopes to see the day when all print marketing requirements go away. "E-marketing gives you the ability to target individuals with personalized messages, but you have to know those 'personas' and what motivates them or their needs to do that." Hence, the importance of data collection.
"Ennect Event gives me the ability to present all the relevant conference information online, collect the data I need and, even, integrate with my existing merchant credit card gateway. It makes event marketing and registration one easy flow for the attendee. And it makes me and my limited staff a lot more productive," says Nossaman.
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