The horrors facing our event planner Jenny are about to get even creepier. A simple turn down the wrong hallway at her conference means facing a terrifying force that she can’t escape easily:
While you might not experience such an unnerving encounter with your attendees, you’ll likely get onsite feedback from time to time that’s, well, nerve-wracking and sometimes completely at odds with other attendee experiences (one person thinks it’s too hot, another thinks it’s too cold). The bloodcurdling question remains: do you do as Jenny did, and just close your eyes and hope it goes away, or do you go another route?
- Deal with the issue head-on. While those twins are creepy, running away from them isn’t going to resolve the issue, could lead to more serious grumbling and some poor post-event surveys, and, gasp…decrease your registration numbers at future events. So hear them out, even if at first the complaints seems supernaturally strange. They’ll appreciate the fact you’re listening. But listening isn’t enough, you must also:
- Listen attentively, ask follow-up questions, and offer solutions. You may have spent months toiling in the office, working long hours and dealing with the stresses associated with event planning. You don’t want what seems like a minor inconvenience to snowball into something more insidious. Instead of dismissing it all, get to the root of the issue by engaging your attendee in a meaningful dialogue. Show profound interest in the problem. You just might be able to solve this unsettling issue in minutes.
- Monitor social media and respond in kind. Jenny was lucky (well, maybe lucky isn’t the right word, let's go with fortunate?) that these sinister twins approached her in person with the problem. In the age of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc., people are ready to instantly share their feelings, good and bad, with hundreds and thousands of their friends, followers, and colleagues. Bad feedback, once it gets online, can instantly conjure up a dark mood at your event, so always make sure you have a social media manager to respond to bitter tweets and chilling comments.
- Take onsite feedback home with you. Don’t make the mistake of treating on-site issues as nightmares that will just go away. Sure enough, minor issues that are irritants to your attendees won’t just vanish. Be proactive, and while you’re never going to plan the perfect event, you can improve on things that will have a positive impact at your next meeting or conference. While Jenny may never want to think about those menacing twins again, she should remember the interaction. While Jenny will dutifully send out a post-event survey, she should note that some attendees might have forgotten to include a concern or problem, or may not respond to the survey at all. Maybe next year, those twins will find the conference room temperature just to their liking, building loyalty.
Jenny managed to survive this encounter, but more menacing moments await another one of our planners. Keep an eye on this blog for our next Event Horror Story: I know what you planned last summer!