In a beautiful town in Indiana lies the most efficient Parks Department known to man: the Pawnee Parks Department! Okay, maybe “most efficient” is debatable, but Leslie Knope, Ron Swanson, Tom Haverford, and the rest of the characters in NBC’s Parks and Recreation have made the fictional town’s Parks Department the most famous in the country.
If there is one thing that Leslie Knope and her department have had tons of experience in, it is organizing and filling the seats for all of Pawnee’s biggest and and best events.
Here is the Knope and Swanson-approved guide to maximizing attendance for your next event!
Take Input and Feedback Into Account
The people of Pawnee, Indiana are not exactly the brightest bulbs to ever offer advice, but as Leslie Knope puts it, “When I am being yelled at, what I hear is people caring LOUDLY at me.” Being the head of the Parks Department, Leslie is charged with the duty of hearing the concerns and ideas of the people and putting the best ones into motion for the parks of Pawnee.
Some ideas are good, while others are plain ridiculous.
However, her department always finds ways to solicit input and feedback so that Pawnee can have the best parks and events in the entire state of Indiana.
Input before an event gives you an insight into what will get people to fill the seats at your event. Sending out emails and calls to prospective guests and seeking their input through forums or polls/surveys can help you plan out activities, food, and speakers that will interest your audience.
Of course, once you finish your event you will want to gather feedback in order to improve for your next event and hopefully fill even more seats. There is ALWAYS room for more improvement!
Don’t Compete With Other Events
Eagleton, the snotty and rich neighbor city of Pawnee, has been the bane of Leslie Knope’s existence since even before she was made the head of the Parks Department. Everything that Leslie has tried to do to for her city has always been overshadowed by the money and glamour of Eagleton.
However, things make a turn for the better when Eagleton, operating under a massive budget deficit, has to come crawling to Pawnee for help and Leslie realizes the two cities would be better if they work together.
This lesson should definitely be applied whenever you are planning your events. Avoid planning your event on the same day as a similar, competing event, unless you are curious to find out who your true friends and followers are. It is better to make sure you don’t split your attendance base.
Of course, taking a page from Knope’s book, there is always the option of combining with the competing event to maximize attendance on both fronts. This is a great option to increase the reach of both organizations.
Offer Incentives for Registration and Attendance
The Parks Department of Pawnee is especially known for the event planning talent of Leslie Knope and her right-hand man, Tom Haverford. During one of his business ventures, Tom holds an “end of the world” party which turns out to be a massive hit for the entire town.
To ensure massive hype and turnout, Tom arranges to have special V.I.P. lists, waiting lines, and other exclusive offers to keep everyone clamoring for more.
When sending out the word for your event, special incentives and offers should be included, such as special prices for early registration, guest packages, or an exclusive item for the first few hundred people to register.
Even on the day of your event, attendance should be encouraged through limited giveaways to those who show up early or those who registered a friend. You should make your guests want to be at your event, no matter what!
Optimize your event website for mobile phones
As a tired and worn out Leslie Knope once said in reference to her cell phone, “This is not a bagel.”
Mobile phones are becoming a substantially large and continuously growing area for all internet browsing devices. In fact, mobile web browsing officially surpassed desktop surfing in 2014 and is projected to keep growing. Google research has even concluded that a lack of mobile optimization on your website can lead to lost business due to the difficulty of operating on a desktop-only layout on a mobile phone.
Optimizing your event website for mobile browsing, or creating a native mobile app for your event is a surefire way to retain as many registrants as possible. It is completely silly to lose possible attendees because your website is not up-to-snuff for mobile browsers that have been around for years now. Get with the times.
Book Familiar Names to Speak at or Attend your Event
One of Pawnee’s most famous celebrations is the yearly Harvest Festival, packed with corn mazes, rides, food, and, most importantly, Li’l Sebastian, the most beloved miniature horse in the city. The celebrity status of Li’l Sebastian always draws crowds of families with their children, making him a goldmine for event attendance in Pawnee.
When planning and announcing your events, there should always be some figure of prominence invited to speak or attend to give it that extra bump of legitimacy. For instance, I, like Ron Swanson, worked for several libertarian political events in the past, and the gold standard (no pun intended) for a speaker at these events was always former Congressman and prominent libertarian, Ron Paul.
The theme and objective of your event should determine who you book to attend, but as long as you can advertise some figure of interest, there will always be attendees willing to hear them speak.
Just so long as Ron Swanson isn’t your speaker, which is always guaranteed to be an underwhelming (and short) experience.
Are there any other big points we forgot to mention and should have? What tactics have worked for you to boost event attendance? Be sure to let us know in the comment section and, as always, enjoy your time in the best city in America: Pawnee, Indiana!
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