Why Aren’t Your Attendees Smiling – Just Ask


Grumpy Attendees Make Bad Events
Photo Credit - Nixter

It never fails to amaze me, an attendee will be walking the corridors of an event hall or conference center with a look of disgust on their face. Something evil and awful is happening and they are not happy and certainly not smiling.

What also never fails to amaze me is the event staff that look the other way, bend down to tie their shoes or otherwise become busy at that exact moment.

That is where I am different and how I try and teach my staff to be different as well. I walk up to the attendee and ask “what can I do for you” or “anything I can help with?’.

98% of the time the issue is because of a bad call from the spouse/boss/kid/fill in the idiot on the other end of a call. 2% of the time it is because of something that happened at the event and this is where you have the chance to turn a bad into a good.

For example, one time, I was strolling and bumped into an attendee that was seething mad, my simple question was “What can I do for you” and the response was “nothing, but thanks. I tried to switch my session and the reg desk said it was full”. I told him to come with me and we walked back to the reg desk and not to offend the staffer, I said “Joan, I know that you looked and the session is full, but I am going to see what I can do” (I do this so that I do not create the “I am mightier than you syndrome”.

The session was full to the brim, but had no waiting list so I told the attendee I would walk over to the session and if a seat was open because someone did not show up, he could have it….. AN IMMEDIATE SMILE AND THANKS. we walked over and waited and yep, a couple of seats were open and he was able to get in and see the speaker and for that, we received a nice letter after the event complimenting our staff and explaining what an excellent event we had produced.

I hire smart people, so now, Joan picked up on my method and started to apply it to other attendees and it really made a difference for this sold out event.

Not all events are the same and every situation is different, but sometimes it pays to ask a simple question – “How can I help”. You would be surprised at the results.

Keith Johnston

Keith Johnston

Keith is the Managing Partner of i3 Events but is most widely known as the outspoken publisher of the event industry blog PlannerWire. In addition to co-hosting the Bullet List and Event Tech Pull Up Podcasts, he has been featured in Plan Your Meetings, Associations Now, Convene, Event Solutions, and has appeared on the cover of Midwest Meetings Magazine.

Yep. We use cookies. Just like everybody else. Cool? Click OK.