Ideas to Help You Increase Meeting Attendance

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Use These Ideas to Increase Attendance at Meetings and Events


By Beth Buehler

During the height of the COVID pandemic, people became used to staying in their comfy clothes and not leaving the house much. The decision between venturing out and watching online or not taking part at all continues to be a challenge facing associations, corporations, nonprofits, and meeting and event planners.


It seems to boil down to proving a gathering’s worth in terms of networking, education, experiences and being part of something bigger than sitting at home. Is an event “shower-worthy” or not? Here are several ideas to increase meetings attendance using three examples.


Create Curiosity & Wow Factor  

Feel Famous, held at the Sports Castle in Denver on March 15, was hosted by MiHi Entertainment and sponsored by an array of local meeting and event suppliers. The color palette of red, black and white created an ambiance that surrounded guests throughout the evening, adding to an ideal mixture of elegance and mischief to give attendees the feeling of celebrity.

Three women dressed in black evening attire stand on a decorated staircase, holding drinks and smiling for the camera. The staircase is adorned with red flowers and red lighting—an elegant setting designed to increase meeting attendance.
Feel Famous attendees dressed in style, photo by All Digital Photo & Video

The email invite was the first hint of what people could expect with the same look and tone. To figure out what to wear and decide the floor they might be spending the bulk of their time on at the event, invitees were encouraged to take a celebrity style icon quiz. The theme “A Walk Through a Night of Fame” was brought to life on six floors, each designed to embody different aspects of fame and to showcase MiHi Entertaiment’s and the partners’ capabilities in an engaging and entertaining fashion.


For example, the fashion floor was a chic and stylish haven that evoked thoughts of Parisian design and East Coast high society. Guests had their autographs printed on personal name badges, and video experiences compiled highlight reels of them walking the runway at a fashion show. The money floor exuded opulence and extravagance as guests were invited to make a music video in and around a luxury sports car and treated to an activation placing them in a private jet.


The artistic freedom floor was the place to let imaginations run wild. This floor featured a tattoo artist creating complimentary Feel Famous tattoos, a local painter focusing on themes of empowerment and creative freedom, and a DJ curating a smaller, more intimate playlist for the dance floor.


Four photographers and several videographers were on hand to capture the memorable evening, with the results clearly demonstrating how to increase meeting attaence. MiHi Entertainment plans to host the event again next year, making it a sought-after invitation.

A group of people at a party throw money in the air while holding champagne bottles, celebrating their latest strategy to increase meeting attendance. The table in front of them is laden with drinks, money, and ice buckets.
The money floor exuded opulence and extravagance, photo by All Digital Photo & Video

Thank Clients in Style

Destination Colorado Meetings and its partners pull out all the stops for the association’s Customer Appreciation Event, which will be held this year at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs on Sept 28 and 29. Members invite meeting and event planner clients and prospects to join them for two days of fun and networking.


The location and hosts change annually, making it worth returning for all involved. The 2023 gathering is kicking off with dinner and a show at Flying W Ranch. The next morning, attendees can choose from several activities including the zipline course at The Broadmoor Seven Falls, a jeep tour, a watercolor painting class, a curling experience at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum, and a downtown walking food, history and art tour. The event concludes with lunch at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum.


Past Customer Appreciation Events have featured a photo scavenger hunt, a concert at the world-renowned Red Rocks Amphitheatre, autumn activities in Aspen, and ranch fun at Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa. Having these kinds of experiential options on the agenda is a great way to increase meeting attendance.

An outdoor event venue set with wooden tables and chairs near red rock formations, with three musicians performing on a small stage. String lights are hung above the seating area, creating an inviting atmosphere to boost meeting attendance.
Destination Colorado Meetings' 2023 Customer Appreciation Event will kick off with a western-style dinner and show, photo courtesy Flying W Ranch

Shed the Trade-Show Norm

The 23rd annual Meetings Industry Council (MIC) of Colorado Educational Conference and Trade Show was held on March 2-3 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. The challenge for longtime gatherings such as this is changing it up in strategic but noticeable ways to increase meeting attendance. Buyer appointments and a planner/exhibitor lunch with food stations sprinkled around the exhibit hall were new for 2023.


I also like to see the creativity of the various booths and educational topics and the different local entertainment built into the reception, opening session and luncheon each year. There is enough same for people to know what to expect (with the best part always being the networking) and enough new to keep it fresh.

Four people, including two mascots, pose for a group photo at an indoor event designed to increase meeting attendance. One mascot is in a Colorado Rockies baseball jersey, the other is a blue bear. The people are wearing event badges.
The Colorado Rockies and Colorado Convention Center mascots were on hand for photo opportunities during the 2023 MIC Conference trade show, photo by InSync Photography

Another annual trade show, Destination Colorado Meetings’ Colorado Meetings Showcase, was held at Infinity Park Event Center in Glendale on Dec. 8. The location changes annually to keep it interesting and demonstrate how various venues can be utilized. The timeframe always remains consistent though, with the holiday season providing a natural theme for sponsor partners and the 61 exhibitor booths and giving the event a festive air.


Incorporating local culture and tastes and promoting the highlights in advance have proved to be successful tactics to increase meeting attendance with 300 people attending in 2022. There was live painting by artist, professional snowboarder and clothing company owner Pat Milbery and music by cellist Jae Wes, known for his unique R&B and hip-hop twist on the stringed instrument. Exhibitors also provide overnight stays, gift certificates, cool swag and more, making it worthwhile to attend and stay for the duration.

A large indoor event with people mingling around various booths and displays, surrounded by animated scenes projected on the walls, aims to increase meeting attendance.
Infinity Park Event Center' 360-degree customizable video screens provide built-in decor, photo by Christie's Photographic Solutions

Make sure to provide solid reasons and inspiration for people to venture out and take time away from busy work and family schedules. Utilize these event examples as ideas to increase meeting attendance. Plus, it’s way more entertaining to plan a gathering that is beyond the norm!


Top Photo: Feel Famous, photo by All Digital Photo & Video


Colorado native Beth Buehler has been editor of Colorado Meetings + Events magazine for 18 years, helped launch Mountain Meetings magazine, and is on the team introducing Southwest Meetings + Events this spring. She has planned numerous meetings and events and enjoys exploring Colorado.