Albeit a few days after Mother’s Day, I thought this post might be a great opportunity to honor my mom for something she does best – making others feel special. My mom never misses an opportunity to ensure we feel loved. The day she and my dad dropped me off at college 1,200 miles away from home, I walked back into my residence hall room to find a basket of nine individually wrapped goodies representing the nine weeks we’d be apart from one another until their visit during Family Weekend. What a surprise it was to receive this expression of love and what an impact it made, knowing that even though we were apart, I’d have a piece of home (and her) right there with me.
I think of this and the countless other thoughtful things my mom has done for me and others throughout my life and marvel at what a huge impact they made on us – so much more than my mom probably ever thought. I’m inspired by my mom’s actions to see what I can do within our events to make others feel special and leave them with memories they won’t soon forget.
At this year’s Commencement, we tried to make the families of our graduates feel special and loved by producing a short video thanking them for all their support during their student’s Tech career. We also listened to each graduate’s unique story or request and did all we could to make their visit exceptional, whether it was sending Buzz in the stands for a photograph, arranging special seating for their grandmother, or securing a unique memento for them after the ceremony.
When brainstorming what we can do to make an event more meaningful and special, we ask what would be most important to our target audience and most pleasantly unexpected? I fondly remember a story we heard at the Event Coordinators’ Network annual workshop in 2009 from one of our colleagues at Perdue University. She recounted a time she was asked to pick up a major donor from the airport. She relayed that she could have easily picked him up herself without any major fanfare, but knew this donor loved his alma mater and all things old gold and black, so she brought the mascot with her to welcome him back to Perdue. That decision, however easy and cost-free, made a huge impact on her donor, who continued to generously give to the university.
Making your guests feel special doesn’t have to take a lot of money and time – it just takes some creative brainstorming and a genuine desire to understand your audience. Whether it’s coordinating a special ride in the Ramblin’ Wreck for a retiring colleague or surprising an award recipient with his/her family members at the awards banquet, we can all make those we serve feel a little more valued both during and after they’ve left our events.
What do you do to make others feel special at your events?