From the “Rules of Engagement” Roundtable: Four Ways to Engage Your Guests

by Bill Kenney, Meet My Expo and Event Team


Special events are the most costly marketing expense for organizations, but also provide a rare opportunity to personally connect with your most important constituents and promote your message/cause. Sounds like a logical plan, but people (such as your staff) typically like to socialize within their own group. How do you ramp up your staff to use this valuable time to network and provide a first class guest experience?

Here are four tips on how to leverage your staff and give your guests a memorable experience.

Your “staff” should be a broad term and include the Board of Directors, employees, and volunteers. Everyone on your staff should all be aligned with the same outcome: spending quality time with guests and ensuring your message is resonating. This isn’t just having an isolated conversation. The entire event experience, from beginning to end, is a reflection on your organization, and whether guests will leave with a positive, negative, or no impression, at all. So it’s up to you to train everyone well in advance on the mission, goals, and expectations of the event, so everyone is in sync. Use this training and the following examples to set your event apart from the others by providing a more memorable experience.

1. Every guest must feel welcome. Greet them enthusiastically and make them feel special, starting in the parking lot. All staff members, as well as vendors, represent your organization and should be courteous and sociable.  Find the people that are not familiar with, or new, to your organization and introduce them to executives who can personally speak to them.

2. Be knowledgeable about the event to answer commonly- asked questions. Where are the restrooms?  What’s the Wi-Fi code?  What’s in the food?  What time does “X happen?  How do I validate parking?

3. The end of the event should be just as strong as the beginning to leave a positive and lasting impression. Do not leave until all the guests have departed. Help guests carry auction items to their cars.  Arrange for leftover food to be donated.

4. After the event, follow up! People’s impressions are perishable.  Queue up email surveys so they are ready to go immediately after the event.  Send major donors and sponsors handwritten notes.  Remind everyone to “Save the Date” for next year.


Your staff should also be thanked and commended for their time, effort, and success in making your event the best it can be. Acknowledge their efforts during the event.  Bring out the chef and culinary team to take a bow.  Announce a milestone in fundraising as a result of their endeavors.

Lastly, if someone on your staff isn’t an extrovert, that’s ok too. They can be assigned to activities that don’t require a lot of interaction. There are lots of “behind the scenes” tasks that they can do within their own comfort zone.

Now you have a cohesive plan to create a smooth, welcoming flow throughout the entire event. One that people will want to come back to again and again.

About Bill Kenney

Based on his many years as an exhibitor, sponsor, speaker and event manager, in 2012, Bill founded MEET develops strategy, provides exhibit staff, identifies and secures speaking opportunities, engages and enrolls prospects, and measures results for trade show sponsors, exhibitors and speakers. MEET’s methods significantly improve and accelerates it clients event participation ROI. For more information please contact Bill at


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