What is crowdsourcing? Have you tried using it for your meetings and events?

In simple terms, crowdsourcing is the process of obtaining input for a particular task or project from a number of people, both in and outside your industry. In other words, it’s soliciting fresh ideas from all sorts of people and voting on those concepts in a fair and democratic process.

Crowdsourcing is the opposite of the way we have typically planned meetings. Usually, a few individuals get together to hammer out the event speakers and agenda, with limited or no input from attendees.

This post will take a look at the benefits, process and a few successful applications you can model for crowdsourcing success.

Crowdsourcing Benefits

The overarching benefits of this process are:

  • Gaining ideas from a diverse group of individuals you might not ever be able to effectively reach
  • Actively engaging participants — a shift from your conference to their conference
  • Designing a meeting that’s “spot on” to what they want
  • Avoiding planner or committee burnout — giving others the opportunity to source content

Why Crowdsource?

Research indicates that in a typical meeting, one-third of the individuals do more than 60 percent of the talking. This means that two-thirds are relatively silent and they could be sitting on the best conference ideas ever!

Questions to Answer Yourself Before Crowdsourcing

Before you purchase an app or send out a string of emails, consider the following five questions. Answers to these questions will help drive what level of crowdsourcing sophistication you will need.

  1. How many sessions will attendees have input on?
  2. How will attendees access the crowdsourcing application?
  3. Will there be a time limit for them to submit and vote on the ideas?
  4. Will they be able to submit content ideas while at the conference?
  5. How will the results be tallied and announced?

The Process

The general process is as follows:

  • Select an online platform to gather ideas — while some of them are free, many are fee-based. Whatever you choose, make the process very easy to access and submit ideas.
  • Craft a message to your audience of why it’s important to your organization/association that they participate.
  • Run an email, social media and in-app push to promote your call for suggestions. Let the user know that all ideas, concepts and presenter suggestions are welcome.
  • Post a countdown calendar showing how long the submission process will be open and let users vote during this process, as well.
  • Encourage users to vote and give them the URL to do so.
  • Report the results and give credit where it’s due.

Successful Examples

Marriott Corporation ran a crowdsourcing campaign from 2013-14 called Travel Brilliantly. Even though the campaign is over, you can see who submitted the top ideas, how many votes their idea received and the top winners. In addition, you can see how Marriott is implementing these ideas in their hotels.

Lumi allows event organizers to gather, record and analyze opinions, thoughts and feedback from attendees’ own smartphones or tablets in order to make snap decisions about content and agenda timing on the fly. This is a great app if you’re going to have flexibility at your conference regarding agenda choices and time allotment.

Kalahari Supports Crowdsourcing

At Kalahari Resorts and Conventions we want and support your feedback on ways to make your visit great! Whether it’s an idea submitted via our on-site suggestion box or sending us a special request on our Kalahari app or calling the front desk, our staff is all about continuous improvement. Give one of our group sales professionals a call at 855.411.4605 to schedule your site visit and see firsthand how we value your feedback!