How to make location really matter

The excuse ‘I’m running 5 miles late’ never crops up in events. Why? Because distance doesn’t cut it when everything needs to go to schedule. At iGeolise we live by the mantra ‘minutes mean more than miles’. We think you should pay as much attention to location as the venue itself. Here’s why…

Location is never ignored in events. Rightly so, because it affects the numbers of delegates, helps out of town attendees find suitable local accommodation and dictates the route that the audience takes to reach the venue. Here’s how to take it to the next level…

When event organisers select venues, they follow a typical pattern regardless of if they do it in-house or through a third party. It looks a bit like this:

  1. Hypothesise – how many delegates are expected to attend? Where would be the best location to attract this audience?
  2. The search – where can I find a venue that suits the target audience best and helps me achieve my targets?

Let’s imagine that a hospital wants to hold a 2-hour training event for nursing staff. There’s no space large enough inhouse but it still needs to be close enough to ensure the staff can get back to work quickly. They decide to limit the venues within 2 miles radius.

Local search tools and event finders will typically stick a pin in the address of the hospital, then search for all venues that meet the event’s criteria. Depending on the filters and requirements of the venue, most searches will return all results within a 2-mile radius. To do this it draws a circle around the hospital and returns every result within the applicable area.

The problem is that 2 miles could take 2 minutes or 1 hour. It’s dependent on the mode of transport available to the attendee, the congestion that occurs on each transport network and the time of day of the event. The location search will also ignore the surrounding geographical landscape, which effects travel to and from the venue. A river isn’t much good when delegates need to find a bridge or walk on water.

Use data to figure out where’s best for your audience

You’ll know where your audience are located, so instead of using the pin-circle model, time mapping lets you understand where the delegates will be best suited. Enter a location or postcode into timebased software such as MinuteMapr and it will tell you where would be best using minutes rather than miles. It will eliminate results that may have been originally on your radar because they’re impossible to get to. It could also suggest new venues that may be longer in miles but shorter in minutes.

Best of all worlds

Most events require a venue that works for numerous different people in numerous different locations. The organisers of a finance event might be wondering what’s best: Canary Wharf or Bank? Using a Venn diagram-style feature such as MinuteMapr can ensure that the location will work for all attendees, picking a happy medium that’s timely for all.

Give suggestions to delegates

Services like hotelmap.com understand the importance of giving delegates all the information they may need when attending an event. It’s imperative that as event organisers you recognise that the venue is not in a vacuum and attendees may be swung on the decision to come along based on what’s around.

Highlighting the closest restaurants, entertainment hot spots, train stations, airports, hotels and parking to the venue by minutes rather than miles enables attendees from far and wide to understand the location like it was home. This works particularly well if the location is desirable and may drive further attendance. To go one step further it’s possible to add ‘what’s nearby’ local searching onto sites so that delegates can explore the local area which has already been done through VisitBritain’s Lovewall map.

Direct marketing with a difference

There was a time when a leaflet would drop through your letterbox that put a smile on your face because it used your name on the print out. Since email marketing and personalisation became the norm, it’s sadly a bit trickier than that now. Using services like Locr, organisers can deliver individualised maps to potential attendees within direct marketing campaigns. It allows potential attendees to visualise and navigate their way from their door to yours. It works well if a venue is perceived as far away, unknown or an effort to get to. It also means that they don’t need to calculate or understand the routing because it’s already done for them.

Play concierge

It’s very likely you’ve collected a significant amount of data from delegates. If you’re a data nut, you’re already using the numbers to understand the user’s decision making behaviour. If you’re not, you may want to begin collecting data from surveys and feedback forms to truly understand what drove attendance figures.

Collecting travel preferences data means that personalisation can go one step further. For each event you can begin to give smarter recommendations for each potential attendee. Routing information can be adapted to their preferred mode of transport as well as dictating information for car hire or suitable flight times. If you understand what drives the individual to come along.

Poolside networking

We all know that carpooling is more cost effective and better for our carbon footprint. The uptake can vary depending on the type of event, however. For any organiser looking to give new networking experiences it may be worth suggesting that like-minded individuals share their car as well as their thoughts on the event.

Event organisers can use survey data, delegate preferences and location information to understand which attendees would benefit from sharing a ride using MinuteMapr. It gives delegates the opportunity to make the most of their time travelling to and from the event as well as giving them a chance to mingle in in a much more intimate environment than usual.

Indoor routing

If you’re organising an event in a large venue, it’s not just the directions to the exhibition that they’ll need. Multiple-level events with various rooms, exhibitors, halls, break-out rooms and spaces can bamboozle attendees. It causes problems with footfall, exhibition browsing and session attendance. Indoor routing can eliminate these issues so delegates can see what’s near their current location, exhibitors can encourage attendance to their stands, delegates are less likely to get lost and it helps attendees find points of interest.

Finding the right suppliers

If it could take up to an hour to reach a local supplier 2 miles away, it’s best to understand the local area in minutes. When you need something urgently, it’s not helpful if it’s down the busiest road at peak time. If you need to be able to get to your supplier in no time flat it’s key to understand the route, time of day needed and congestion.

For some events keeping the cost low for delegates is imperative, particularly if you’re targeting the student and young person market. If the price of getting from A to B matters, use TravelTime technology that calculates the average price of the journey. The API can be used alongside a local search tool, so that delegates can access the average cost of the route to the venue using the transport mode of their choice.