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Three Ways to Get Last Year’s
Attendees Back Again
It’s been proven time and again: It’s
much easier to retain an existing
customer or client than it is to recruit a
new one. For that reason alone, it’s
important to retain your special event
attendees from year to year,
particularly if you want to grow
attendance over time.
That being said, here are three ways
to get last year’s attendees back again:
1. Evaluate their perceptions. Don’t
hesitate to get attendees’ opinions
on what they liked and didn’t like
about your event. Survey them
and/or talk to them within five
days of the event, while everything
is fresh in their minds. Pay equal
attention to attendees’ positive and
2. Give past attendees first choice at
subsequent years’ events. Send out
your first round of invitations to
last year’s attendees, giving them
top seating, best parking, first
choice at seeing auction items and
so forth. By distinguishing this
loyal group from others, future
first-time attendees will also want
to become part of this elite group.
3. Recognize past attendees. Include
names of all ticket purchasers in
your printed program. (You will,
no doubt, need a cutoff date for
printing purposes; however, this
could even be a program insert
prepared at the last minute.) Beside
each name, include the number of
years the individual has attended
your special event. Also, you could
ask all previous event attendees to
stand and be recognized during the
program. Or you could
prominently post a large listing of
longtime attendees at your
registration table for guests to see
as they arrive.
Event Marketing Tips
Keep in mind that radio stations
will be more likely to give your
event’s public service announcement
higher priority, if you can offer the
station paying commercials from
your corporate sponsors.
UCCS Marks 50
Anniversary With Yearlong Celebration
The University of Colorado – Colorado Springs (UCCS; Colorado Springs, CO)
recently celebrated its 50
anniversary with a variety of special events and activities
held throughout the entire year.
Sterlynn Clendenin, manager of chancellor and university events, says the yearlong
festivities were a way to “show how far we’ve come and celebrate what is to come.”
The year began with kickoff celebrations for faculty, staff and donors; branding
on buses and parking garages (a new logo was created for the anniversary); and the
development and sale of a special Colorado-grown UCCS wine.
The second and third quarters included special graduation features like the
addition of recognizing silver and gold graduates (the university absorbed a nursing
college allowing for golden grads), a rally to welcome incoming freshmen and a
groundbreaking for a new $60 million arts building.
Events during the last quarter included the opening of a time capsule during
homecoming as well as the creation of a new one; fireworks; and the 50
anniversary culminating celebration, which featured a custom menu, a proclamation
from the governor, an interactive photo booth and a review of some of the
Additionally, throughout the year, each of the university’s six colleges was
celebrated during its assigned month.
“The goal was to make sure each stakeholder felt like they were able to fully get
recognition in the celebration,” Clendenin says.
To ensure this happened, she says identifying all key stakeholders was crucial.
While some groups like faculty, alumni and current students were obvious,
Clendenin says other groups like prospective students and those in the community
were also identified, as prospective students are the university’s future and the
school relies heavily on donors within community.
In addition to creating a comprehensive list of stakeholders, Clendenin says
there were several other major factors that needed consideration. So, if your
organization is looking to celebrate its milestone anniversary, she offers the
1. Determine if there will be a committee in charge of the festivities or if an
individual staff member will be responsible for them, as event ownership is
2. Consider and budget for projects (e.g., logo and website design) that can and
will be done in-house versus hiring an outside source.
3. Develop a timeline. Look for opportunities to combine anniversary celebrations
with annual events. In the case of UCCS, graduation and homecoming are two
4. Allow plenty of time for ordering products. While the process sounds simple,
products made overseas may need to go through customs, and in the case of the
specialty wine, additional time was necessary for procurement.
5. Build in ample time for approval from other departments.
6. Determine a budget and identify opportunities to make the money go farther.
Will there be a budget specific to the anniversary festivities? Can you share
resources on dual-purpose events such as graduation? Is partnering with
another department a possibility? Recycle custom items like linens and
backdrops. Take advantage of bulk discounts and utilize the help of volunteers
7. Set goals. What does your organization hope to accomplish?
Reflecting on UCCS’s 50
anniversary, Clendenin says she is pleased with the
new traditions created and feels the university’s goals were accomplished.
Source: Sterlynn Clendenin, Manager of Chancellor and University Events, University of
Colorado – Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs, CO. Phone (719) 255-4201. E-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.uccs.edu/50th/events.html