Session Overload? Don’t Let Personalized Schedules Overwhelm Attendees

Take the stress out of custom agendas with these three strategies

It’s a planner’s perfect conundrum: Attendees want to take an active role in designing their own event experiences, but research shows that choosing between sessions stresses guests out—so much so that about 59 percent of attendees want session recommendations based on their interests and past events. 

So, the question is, should you offer attendees the ability to personalize agendas, knowing that it adds a layer of stress to the attendee experience?

The answer: Yes. Here’s why: Despite the potential of overwhelming attendees, 80 percent of consumers are more likely to do business with an organization if it offers a personalized experience. More than that, 2 out of 3 people say they are loyal to brands that tailor their experiences to their preferences.

For planners, that means personalization is a must. Plus, there are ways to get around agenda anxiety. Here are three ways to help attendees customize their schedules stress-free:

Provide suggestions.

As the research shows, attendees want help personalizing their schedules. It might seem like a tall task when you don’t know each guest personally, but because of registration software, your event app and previous event data, there’s a treasure trove of attendee data at your fingertips that can help provide relevant suggestions.

For example, when an attendee registers for your meeting or creates a profile on the event app, have them select their interests from a list of topics covered across sessions. To ensure that you are providing the most relevant sessions possible, make this information a mandatory part of the registration process.

Another approach: Look back to previous event data and make suggestions based on which sessions guests attended last time. For meetings with a large guest list, consider segmenting attendees who attended similar sessions and providing recommendations to the groups as a whole, rather than guests individually. 

Give guests the ability to change their mind.

If you had to make a decision knowing that you couldn’t change it, you’d be a little stressed, too, wouldn’t you? So, make sure to give attendees a little leeway in their scheduling abilities. If they decide at the last minute that they would rather attend a different session, allow them to do so, as long as space permits. 

Just make sure to communicate any attendance rules your meeting might have beforehand. For instance, if session registration closes one hour prior to start time, let attendees know that they will have to decide whether to join in or sit out by then.  

Break sessions up by theme.

At large meetings with a variety of sessions and topics, guests might be overwhelmed just looking at the long list of possibilities. Consider breaking down sessions into a few overarching themes, and color-coding each session accordingly. That way, if guests are interested in attending Network and Educate sessions, for example, they can look at the list and immediately know which sessions are most relevant to them. 

Of course, that doesn’t mean that guests can’t attend sessions outside of those themes. But at the very least, theming sessions can give attendees a launching point as they decide what topics they are interested in and which speakers they want to see. 

Did you hear? On Dec. 16, Meetings Imagined will transition to Marriott Bonvoy Events, a new platform for meeting inspiration, insight and know-how.