Visitor experience is incredibly important at your event if you want happy visitors (happy visitors spread the word and are more likely to come back time and time again), but it can seem overwhelming when you’re just getting started thinking about it. One of the best ways to simplify your thinking about it and visualise where you can make improvements is to think about it in terms of a visitor journey.

Just like marketers like to consider a customer’s journey, event planners can think about the journey they want their visitors to go on through a series of touchpoints where they interact with different aspects of the event.

The full visitor journey includes pre- and post-event touchpoints which begin way before the event starts and continue on after the doors have shut for the day.

For the purpose of this guide, we’re just going to focus on the on-site part (a.k.a. What happens to the visitor as soon as he or she walks through the entrance of your event).

Step One: Visitor Types and Visitor Experience Goals

First of all, you want to think about your visitors’ goals for the event – what do you want them to get out of it? What would a successful event look like for them?

In a perfect world, you can concretise this by determining how many relevant exhibitors, sessions, and connections would make for a successful show for each type of visitor you have coming. Think about key questions, like whether your visitors are likely to plan their day in advance and whether they know exactly what they want to see beforehand.

Let’s take a look at some example visitor experience objectives to kick things off. Note that each of these objectives centre around one part of the event or day.

  1. Build excitement and anticipation among visitors as they enter the exhibition
  2. Make it easier for visitors to navigate the show and discover relevant content and exhibitors
  3. Make it easier for visitors to plan their day
  4. Nudge visitors in the direction of key show features and exhibitors with smaller stands
  5. Reduce the amount of downtime and unnecessary queueing that might have a negative impact on visitor experience
  6. Make registration faster

Step Two: The Most Common Issues Visitors Face

Next, you want to touch on the common issues your visitors will face so you can tackle those early on.

Use things like feedback forms and feedback from the events team and face-to-face conversations to determine what the biggest issues are and to figure out which ones can be realistically fixed and mitigated.

Let’s take a look at some example visitor experience issues:

  1. Venue wayfinding – think about issues with finding the exhibition hall and finding the recommended amenities on and off-site
  2. Navigating the exhibition itself – think about issues with finding specific seminar rooms, locating the networking bar, and finding smaller exhibitors
  3. Oversubscribed seminar sessions – think about what might happen if some of the seminar sessions are oversubscribed while others are empty
  4. Queueing times – think about issues with waiting to see the most in-demand exhibitors and waiting to get into busy seminar rooms
  5. Not enough cafes or seating areas – think about issues surrounding the comfort and needs of your visitors
  6. No clear path to follow – think about issues surrounding navigation and whether visitors might get lost or miss certain areas of the event

Step three: On-Site Decision Points

Step three involves mapping out the likely paths visitors will take, including the decisions they’ll make at certain points throughout the event. This will include choices they’ll make at the entrance, in the networking lounge, between show zones, and in and around seminar rooms.

Think about whether you can predict what visitors will do and if there are any areas you can improve to make those decisions easier for them.

Most events are largely built around a “yellow brick road” model, where there is a designated, easy-to-follow path that weaves around the show zones. It’s often set apart with a brightly-coloured carpet that leads to the next area.

Basically, your visitors need a clearly-marked path to follow otherwise they’ll end up wandering around aimlessly!

At each point along the path, you need to consider what information visitors will have and what information they’ll need in order to make the “right” decision. Let’s take a look at an example:

  1. Entrance
  2. Bright path or even a tunnel (e.g. at 100% Optical or Grand Designs) leading to a central bar / main feature area
  3. Featured products / New products or designs “arcade”
  4. Seminar theatres
  5. Seating area
  6. Cloakroom
  7. Exit

These areas are all key spots to think about the visitor’s decision.

Step Four: How to use Digital Signage for a Better Visitor Experience

Now you know exactly what the goals, issues, and decisions of your visitors will be, it’s time to implement a system to help improve the experience.

Cue digital signage.

A good digital signage system can significantly improve visitor experience in two main ways:

  1. It can help visitors directly by helping them plan their day, discover content and exhibitors, and receive messages from organisers
  2. It can change the perception of other problems, including queueing, and eliminate frustrations and the feeling that visitors are not being listened to.

Once you know what all the decision points will be, you can look into installing digital signs at some of them and target the messaging based on what you want the visitors to know and do at each point.

For each of the key spots, you’ll need to consider where you want to lead the visitor next. Then you can place digital signs along this route to serve up relevant information which will improve the flow of your event and drastically boost the visitor experience.

For example:

 

  1. Entrance Digital Sign rotating messages- Bright path or even a tunnel (e.g. at 100% Optical or Grand Designs) leading to a central bar / main feature area
  2. Featured products / New products or designs “arcade”
  3. Seating area
  4. Cloakroom
  5. Exit

Thomas Walczak

By Thomas Walczak

I am the Founder and Managing Director of EventIgnite, a technology company dedicated to creating an effortless experience at events. EventIgnite develops professional digital signage systems, including interactive and large-format digital signs. Don't hesitate to send me an email at thomas@eventignite.com