Expert Predictions and Best Practices for Event Marketing in 2016

December 21, 2015

By Elizabeth Johnson

If your New Year’s Resolution is to “do it better” in 2016, you’re not alone. Whether it’s more attendees, a larger exhibit hall, a broader international reach or more sponsorship revenue, show planners have ambitious goals that mean marketing needs to be more effective.

But, with all the possibilities, how do planners market their events better than ever before? The industry’s leading marketing experts weighed in on how event marketing will evolve in the coming year and shared best practices for getting it right.

Kevin Miller, president of Frost Miller

“2016 will be the year that social media, and more broadly, content marketing, will finally secure its place in conference and tradeshow promotion. Until now, there has been confusion about social media’s role, but as we’ve learned more about its strengths and weaknesses, and new tools have been introduced to target very specific audiences and drive very specific actions, more organizers are going to see measurable results with social media. This will also help organizers realize their goals of extending the life of their events to 365 days a year, as content from the event can be pushed out year-round, and communities can form around particular topics.”

Jean Whiddon, president of Fixation

“I think the standard answers are going to be "doing more with big data" and "focusing attention on 'more’ vs. 'better'" in every category of marketing, web traffic, social media interaction, even attendees. But I think a trend will also be - particularly with large horizontal industry events - to help attendees find their smaller communities (within the big event) of like-minded individuals to make the event more consumable and more valuable. So in the same way that large universities help students find their ‘tribe’ within a large population, so too will shows keep striving to make their event memorable, manageable and less overwhelming to attendees...and of course to persuade them to come back every year.”

Ben Swiatek, web developer/UX-UI specialist, and Kimberly Hardcastle-Geddes, president of mdg

“Thanks to online analytics tools, event marketers have an enormous amount of website data at their fingertips. mdg’s advice for 2016 — use it! As tempting as it can be to base decisions on feedback from an opinionated board member or an impassioned phone call from one confused attendee prospect, choices based on data will almost always prove more successful in the long run.”

Bob James, sales communication manger, Freeman

“Freeman released a white paper that included this trend in 2016: ‘Crowdsourcing becomes more ubiquitous every day as a way for consumers to make buying decisions. People use comments on Amazon to help them choose which product to buy, Yelp to decide where to have dinner and TripAdvisor to pick their vacation destinations. With the consumer expectation of immediate response inevitable, eventgoers will rely on the feedback from fellow attendees about which conference sessions to attend or exhibit hall booths to visit. Event organizers, exhibitors and conference speakers will have to be vigilant observers of social media, prepared to make quick changes to programming as they digest their participants’ instant feedback. By encouraging participation and crowdsourcing, event organizers can build both interest and attendance by creating a community of active enthusiasts.’”


Stephanie Selesnick, International Trade Information

“There’s no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to international event/exhibition marketing.  Understand that a great number of people in the world know English as a second language, so keep your messages simple, concise and leave buzz words and jargon out. In other words, be user friendly. Secondly, if you are going to publish anything in another language, be sure to have it professionally translated. Google translate does not count!”

Stephanie Heishman, president of Freya

“Remind, cross promote and use your influencers. Successfully market your event by using a countdown technique in your event communications to remind your audience often (for example, “Reminder: Join us in just 2 weeks!”, “In 3 days: Attend the Best Event Ever”). Integrate your event messaging with your on and offline programs to cross promote. Finally, utilize influencers like board members and celebrities to help you extend your reach and get the people you want to be in the room, in the room.”

Need more? Planners can follow these leaders on social media throughout the year to learn more valuable ideas for marketing their events. 

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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.