What Every Event Planner Can Learn from the Best of the Best

BizBash recently compiled the 100 Best Events of 2018 and I thought it would be interesting to look at the top ones in the business and financial, entertainment and technology arenas.

Here is an overview of each and tactics your organization can use today to increase attendance at your next event.

Best Business & Financial: Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference

This annual media finance conference hosted and wholly independently funded by private investment firm Allen & Company, has taken place in Sun Valley, Idaho for one week every July since 1983.

What you can implement:

  • This is an invitation only conference for A players.
    Bring up the game and strive for higher level attendees. For example, if you are currently attracting sales professionals, aim for sales managers.
  • It serves a narrow niche of tech and media CEOs.
    Not trying to be everything to everyone is important. What is your niche? Hone in on it and stay in your lane.
  • Same time, same place.
    Always in July, it is in the same sleepy resort town of 1,500 residents every year. Depending on your invitation list, you may want to look for out of the way locations everyone loves to travel to.
  • Outdoor activities are part of the program.
    Guests can sign up for golf, cycling and white-water rafting excursions. There are a variety of hiking trails if they want to go off on their own.
  • It runs from Tuesday to Monday.
    A week may seem like a long time to ask attendees to stay away from the office and their families, but if the content and connections are good, they will make it work.
  • There’s no centralized housing.
    Many planners think one hotel must hold all its attendees. This doesn’t have to be a deal breaker as meeting participants of this conference stay in town homes, cottages or hotels all over Sun Valley.
  • Deals are struck.
    Bezos bought The Washington Post here. Verizon acquired Yahoo. Other acquisitions occurred, or negotiations were started. Ample uninterrupted, free time for individuals to get together is key.
  • There is a planned agenda, exclusively shared with only attendees.
    Not until individuals arrive do they know who or what’s planned. However, the topics are always timely, but rarely shared with anyone outside of the conference which catches the attention of the curious.

Entertainment: San Diego Comic Con

This is the biggest entertainment expo in the world. It attracts roughly 165,000 visitors per show and a panel of A-list franchisers.

What you can learn:

  • It has a preview night from 6 to 9 p.m.
    The organizers allow individuals who want to walk the trade show floor the night before the opportunity to do so.
  • The event runs from Thursday through Sunday.
    Four days of action-packed things to see and do during this time. The start time is 9:30 a.m. and the end time is 7 p.m. except on the final day when it ends at 5 p.m.
  • They are active on Facebook and Twitter.
    Directing attendees and potential guests to these two social channels can them feel connected and up to date on changes to the conference.
  • Comic-Con has an iPhone and Android app.
    No paper is distributed here – everything is accessible on the app and attendees are encouraged to download it several days before the conference starts.
  • It’s always in San Diego.
    Has been since 1970, making it a 48-year tradition.
  • Authors sign books on a limited timeframe.
    Comic book authors and illustrators are available for signings, getting a signed copy of the attendee’s comic book is not guaranteed.
  • They offer exclusive content and access to it, if you are at the right level.
    You will pay more, but sometimes more is worth it. VIPs have access to sneak peeks of new movies and so much more.

Technology: CES

This is an annual trade show organized by the Consumer Technology Association. Held in January at the Las Vegas Convention Center, the event typically hosts presentations of new products and technologies in the consumer electronics industry.

Here’s what they offer:

  • Attendees must be pre-approved by submitting business credentials, as no walk-in tickets are available.
  • Ticket prices range from $100 to $1,400 per attendee.
    This makes the show very affordable to smaller businesses or media sites who have limited budgets. Tickets are available on a first-come, first served basis and once they are sold out, there are no additional tickets issued at those levels.
  • They offer a 25% VIP member discount.
    Members are given exclusive access to private meeting rooms, networking events and the member party.
  • The broadcast, print and online media is encouraged to attend, yet must provide the same level of credentials as attendees.
  • They like social media influencers with followings of 300,000 or greater.


You can see each event has its unique characteristics. Hopefully, you can pluck five or six ideas from here, try them at your next conference and see which ones work for your group.


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