Are you integrating new technology into your event this year? Congratulations! Isn’t it exciting? Whether you are adding a new event app or implementing online registration, one of the most important aspects to consider is your audience. We love to geek out about a new product, but we always have to remember not everyone is as excited about it as we are! Your audience is the key to your success. It is up to you to prepare them for anything you throw at them, especially if it something new and may seem scary!
How quickly are you looking for your attendees to adopt this new technology? What level of adoption rate are you looking to get? If you don't know these answers, take some time to determine them. It is important to be realistic with these answers.
Depending on the technology being implemented, these numbers can vary drastically - it depends on your goals and your plan. For example, if you are “going green” with a mobile app and immediately abolishing a printed program the first year of the app, you may get some pushback and low adoption rate in the beginning. The same goes for online registration. If your attendees are used to registering for your conference by calling, emailing, or mailing back a postcard (yes, it still happens!), it may take a few years to fully implement that online registration system and get to a high adoption rate. It will be worth it in the long run, though!
Communication, Instructions, and Support - Oh My!
While it may take some time for these examples to achieve your desired adoption rate, don’t fear (they can smell it!). With time, clear communication, and instructions, it can happen! During this time, you will need to be patient with those that do pushback, understanding that they may be scared or uncertain to jump into something new. Give them options, and be prepared for additional communication and long phone calls to help ease them into these new processes.
Finding ways to effectively distribute instructions will be vital as well. While some people actually do read every word in their emails, regardless of the length, there are plenty of people who only skim them, and rarely get through a complete email before moving on. You will need to adapt your marketing plan to fully include this exciting new feature. Let the attendees know the benefits of using the great, new technology! Hopefully, the product you choose is smooth, user-friendly, and intuitive. Even if it is, though, there always needs to be some instructions and tips. Embrace the early adopters and enable them as representatives, spreading the enjoyment to others, while helping them at the same time.
During this transition time, you may need to offer options to your attendees in order to keep everyone happy and give them the time to test the waters on their own before you force them into it! For a mobile app, you may need to offer a printed program while overtly pushing and advertising the mobile app for a year or two, as you gradually reduce the visibility and number of printed programs available. For a new online registration system, you may need to offer multiple ways to register while everyone gets used to and comfortable with the system. While this will end up taking more work on your part, it will help in the end once everyone is using the online system!
Don’t Give Up!
Ultimately, your attendees should determine your process. Make sure your adoption rate goals are realistic to the event. Some events may have very high adoption rates the first year, while it may take other events a few years to reach a high adoption rate. You, as the planner, have a unique understanding of what your event needs and in what direction it needs to move to stay successful. As you transition in this new technology, be open minded and request feedback from your staff and attendees. Be flexible if needed, but don’t necessarily give in to the pushback. People don’t like change, but once it is no longer new, they don’t know how they lived without it!
As a planner and a leader - embrace the change, and the challenges that come with it! Be confident in your path. Ask for help if you need it. We are here if you need anything!