Event professionals, like everyone else across the corporate spectrum, are finding out the hard way that brand intimacy is more important than ever. MBLM’s recently released Brand Intimacy 2018 Report showed that by almost any measure—price resiliency, loyalty and level of FOMO (fear of missing out)—one industry, travel, is coming in dead last when it comes to connecting with people in a meaningful way.
Is it really that surprising? In the aftermath of a wave of recent mechanical mishaps—poor customer service stories that went viral, long TSA lines, delays and cancellations—worry has come to replace giddiness over the chance to look at the sky 36,000 feet above the ground.
Each of these failings is an important lesson for meeting planners working to create an atmosphere that will leave attendees feeling as if they just opened the best birthday present ever (as opposed to feeling as if they had been tied in knots trying to get from point A to point B).
Eliminate Queue Fatigue
We’ve all been there. There’s only one line for the buffet and it is crawling slower than L.A.’s famed 405, or the human chain anxiously awaiting entry to the girl’s room is around the corner and no other options are in sight. No one likes waiting around. If the stat is correct that attendees today have sustained attention spans of 8 minutes—shorter than the amount of time a goldfish can focus on one thing—then something has to be done about “queue fatigue.” Often the solution is as simple as installing proper signage. Mixing up food options to create islands for exploring can also shorten meal wait-times. Or, take a tip from Walt Disney and make anticipation part of the experience. Arrange for performers, passed trays to whet the appetite and networking activities to make chatting with fellow line-standers more fun.
Cater to Their Dietary Needs
Dietary restrictions may feel like a fad, but some people have strict food restrictions that they must adhere to, be it due to health, conscience or a combination of the two. Airline food has earned a reputation for a reason and now isn’t even included in the price of the ticket any more. Ask attendees for their special requests in advance and work with the venue to make sure the gluten-free, vegan meals are delivered just as quickly and as satisfying as the ones they will be eyeing at the table next to them.
Another way to elevate moods during mealtimes is to have something available to eat the moment guests set foot in the ballroom. This will eliminate the challenge of “hangry” guests while they wait for their main course.
Space it Out
After folding into airline seats, most passengers will be itching to stretch. Sitting theater-style, shoulder-to-shoulder at an event can bring on post-flight flashbacks. Space out chairs so attendees can spread out. In fact, giving them control over where they place their chairs and how and when they sit is one of the most effective antidotes to jet-rage.
To further compensate for the hustle and bustle of airports, consider setting aside a room in the venue that can be designated for those looking to escape the madness. Even a minute away from the noise can feel refreshing.
Be SM Savvy
Airlines have gotten better about responding to complaints via social media, but there’s still a long way to go before they begin noticing tweets that haven’t gone viral. Get ahead of the curve by setting Google alerts and listening to how people are talking about your event and brand. If you’re busy juggling 10 other tasks, consider hiring someone to manage social media. Attendees who feel heard are the happiest.
Outlets, Outlets, Outlets
Some airplanes do feature chargers, perfect for those looking to plug in while they move on. Unfortunately, many do not. Install a charging station so attendees can charge phones and equipment in between speeches. They’ll appreciate not having to sit on the floor in a crowded hallway.
Similarly, in-air Wi-Fi still leaves many spinning, so in addition to working with the venue to provide adequate high-speed bandwidth for all attendees and their devices, make it easy for them to log in by providing instructions early and often.
Keep it Clean
Airplanes are full of germs, and some research has shown that cleaning between flights does not include full sanitizing of seats, tray tables and armrests. Offer wipes and hand sanitizers around the venue for those looking to clean up after shaking hands with strangers for an hour. Nobody wants to get post-event sickness.