Justifying attendance at a conference

You know attendees love your events – just look back at the comments! But it’s becoming increasingly difficult for them to convince their employers to bear the expense.

Some businesses see great value in allowing their employees to attend events that will help them to do their jobs better, but many conference attendees will have to provide a solid business case to justify the trip. As an event organizer, how can you show your attendees that your event is valuable and boost attendance?

Most people hate writing, so having to create an email outlining the benefits of attending an event in order to persuade senior management, will fill many with dread. Why not create a pre-written letter for your potential attendees to give their managers, with all the benefits spelled out? It takes away that fear of putting an argument together on a blank screen, a task that many will find ways to avoid.

Once you’ve decided to outline the benefits for your delegates, you’ll need to articulate clearly what these are. Focus on what delegates can specifically expect to bring back their organisation as payback for the investment. Identify specific sessions that could have relevance. Will there be any networking and opportunities to share best practice? Will your conference showcase vendors with tools your delegates are likely to evaluate for future use? Will there be any workshops designed to help attendees overcome current or future challenges?

Professional conferences can be expensive. It’s not just the cost of the event itself either, but travel, accommodation and time spent out of the office all need to be factored into the equation. Before your delegates can even begin to justify conference expenses, they will need to calculate what those expenses are. It’s a good idea to create an expenses worksheet for your delegates so that they can develop a cost estimate for attending your conference quickly and easily. It’s also worth pointing out that sharing a room can keep costs down.

Encourage your presenters in advance of the conference to create blog posts to serve as an online handout, where they list links and other resources that will be referenced in their sessions. They can also upload printed handouts for post session follow up.

Suggest your attendees create “action reports”, ensuring they implement at least one idea learned at the conference back in the workplace. Encourage them to create a presentation after the event to share what they have learned, train other colleagues and compare the cost of hiring a consultant for the same education.

You can be proactive in helping your attendees come to your event. Make it as easy as possible for them to approach their budget managers, and perhaps they’ll find your conference worth attending.