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April 24, 2018

By Jon Carnero, Health & Wellness Lead, RAPP North America

Deciding whether or not to attend a conference isn’t easy. Not only do you need to pay for travel, lodging, tickets, and food, but you also have to miss valuable time at work. If you do all that for a conference, it had better be a great one.

When deciding whether I should attend one of these networking opportunities, the first thing I ask myself is what I hope to get out of it. Is it new skills, increased company visibility, or something else? Do I want to lecture or listen? Will there be key industry drivers in attendance whom I can interact with and learn from? Do the classes offered align with the goals our company has?

The best conferences provide invaluable opportunities for motivated attendees, but no one conference is right for everyone. To decide whether to attend an event, you must learn to spot which ones are worth your time.

How to Pick the Right Conference

When we conducted the RAPP CXM Study, we found 20 opportunities brands commonly miss that can create better experiences. With our deep background in experiential marketing and engagement, we know how to tell when an event is the real deal and when it doesn’t live up to the hype.

Before making travel plans to your next conference, follow these three tips to determine whether it’s worth the price of admission.

1. Look for Shareable Content
Attending a conference is more than just attaching a friendly face to your company. It’s about learning skills that you — and others — can use to better your organization. When picking an event to attend, make sure it’s one that will provide information interesting and relevant enough for you to retain and take back to your co-workers.

Will the lessons you learn help the team work smarter? If yes, consult with your colleagues to plan which sessions to attend and which notes to bring back. If not, reconsider whether the trip is worth taking. If you do attend the conference, bring back what you learned and share it internally.

2. Remember the Customer
Your coworkers aren’t the only people interested in a major conference’s content. Clients and customers might want to know what you learned, too.

Will you discover something new about how to deliver results to your customers? What about resources? Will you come home with anything to help educate your clients and prospects about the kind of services you offer and why they’re beneficial? The more firepower the conference gives you, the better.

Consider what your competitors will gain, too. Does this conference offer information that could provide a significant advantage if they have it and you don’t?

3. Distinguish Between Fads and Facts
I’m a fact-based person who really dislikes hyperbole. So, if I see a conference track titled, “The Future of Marketing,” I’ll pass.

Instead of big promises and trendy topics, look for practical conference tracks. Does the conference promise real value, or are the speakers just adding their voices to an already crowded discussion? If the topics are real trends — and not just fads — how quickly can you take the information you receive and adapt it to your industry?

For example, if you work in healthcare and attend a digital marketing conference, do any of the topics speak to issues you experience in your industry? Could you leverage the promised insights on email marketing and landing pages to earn more business, or do those areas not offer enough value?

Every company is different, just as every conference is different. No single event, speaker, or track will help every business. Before you book your next flight, consider these factors to determine whether your destination is full of useful information or hot air.

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