Recommended For You: Personalized Attendee Picks

Attendees want to get the most out of attending a conference. One way to ensure that’s the case is by offering up some personalized session and event recommendations based on their previous picks.

If you’re an avid Netflix user like me, I’m sure you’re not only well aware of the TV and movie recommendations the service offers but also how spot-on they are the majority of the time. (Yes, I’m talking about you, The Bletchley Circle and Call the Midwife.)

With [picks] uniquely tailored to each person, we hope that attendees can spend less time planning and instead make the most of their time in Austin.

In an article posted on Business Insider late last month, the company’s vice president of product innovation, Chris Jaffe, explained what’s behind its recommendation algorithm.

About three or years ago Jaffe said Netflix needed to find a way to solve a major problem: having so much content that users get lost. Add to this that the company knows it has just 90 seconds to convince users it has something for them to watch before they abandon the service and move on to something else.

So, Netflix has to rely on personalization and recommendations to keep users engaged and logged in, which is something it’s not only extremely thoughtful about—exemplified by the 1,000 employees it has architecting the product and the personalization algorithm that resets every 24 hours to ensure users discover the exact content they want to watch—but also always tweaking.

“We work on constantly making that experience better and better. It’s a unique approach. In some companies [that are] evolving the product, the product team might be the driver: the team comes up with the idea, design, builds, launches, and sees what happens,” Jaffe said. “My team can’t make that decision. We come up with the ideas, but what drives product decisions is our customers and what customers do and how they use the product.”

Meetings Take Notice

Given that Netflix has 40 million subscribers in the United States and 75 million worldwide, it’s safe to assume that many of your attendees are familiar with the service and its well-thought-out recommendations.

You know what that means for all you association meeting planners? Your attendees will expect those same type of personalized recommendations when it comes to education sessions, networking events, and other social activities.

The good news is that some associations have already gotten into the personalization game when it comes to email, publications, websites, and education. On the meeting front, for example, in 2014 I wrote about how the Drug Information Association emailed tailored conference agendas to close to 7,000 potential attendees.

But the not-so-good news for associations is that recommendations and personalization strategy must continue to evolve and get better.

Take a look at the official event app for South by Southwest 2016—SXSW GO—for inspiration.

Created by Eventbase, this year’s version includes a new recommendation engine, which, according to a press release, “generates unique recommendations through an advanced algorithm that compares an attendee’s schedule favorites to like-minded community favorites.”

The meeting’s 80,000-plus attendees can access their recommendations via the online schedule and SXSW GO. It will also deliver recommendations with push notifications based on gaps in attendees’ schedules as well as their current location.

“SXSW is a vast, intense experience, and this year we’ve focused even more deeply on using technology to make it truly personal,” said Jeff Sinclair, cofounder and CEO of Eventbase. “With recommendations uniquely tailored to each person, we hope that attendees can spend less time planning and instead make the most of their time in Austin.”

How is your organization incorporating recommendations and other elements of personalization into its meetings and events? Please share in the comments.


Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

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