Last week I was fortunate enough to attend the Farnborough International Airshow as a guest of Raytheon’s #meetRay tweetup.
As a bit of an aviation geek, I enjoyed the day tremendously – there’s a lot to be said for gaining VIP access (and shelter from the rain) – but what I found really impressive was the way the event was hosted.
Considering that this was Raytheon’s first international tweetup (with several participants flying from America to attend) I thought that there were several key things that other companies looking to host similar events should think about:
1. Regular communication leading up to the event
Raytheon’s social media manager kept participants up to date by email, with about one a week for the month leading up to the airshow. There was plenty of information on the itinerary, what to expect and bring, and who we would be meeting from the team on the day.
We also got to find out a bit about who the other participants would be thanks to a Twitter list of the guests, allowing the group to check out each other’s bios or follow their tweets.
During the run up to the event the @Raytheon twitter account also published mini-bios if an attendee sent one in by email. I forgot to do this opted to remain mysterious, so here is another example:
#meetRay Tweetup’s @therealdjflux – #spacetweep, wanted to be a pilot. May still be astronaut. Excited to meet everyone! #FIA12
— Raytheon (@Raytheon) July 11, 2012
2. Use your team to give people options
While everybody at an event like this will share common interests, the group had a variety of backgrounds and Raytheon’s team did well to allow a flexible programme. In the afternoon the group split to tour different areas of the show – with the majority going for the space technology route with a former NASA employee. Being more into aircraft, I went along with a smaller group to view the flight line with a former pilot.
If you are running a similar event, it would be a good idea to take all the areas of expertise that you cover – to offer a varied and engaging programme. When everyone came back together to watch the last afternoon’s flying, there was lots of discussion about what each group had experienced, so splitting off doesn’t mean breaking up the group feel.
We were also given the option to stay later than originally scheduled, to catch all the flying displays. Unsurprisingly almost everybody took that option to stay for as long as possible!
3. Keep everyone connected
This might go without saying – but was no mean feat. Many of the tweetup veterans were impressed with the Wi-Fi, but it went beyond that, as Raytheon had a slew of power points and chargers available, as well as loan laptops. Everyone was there to enjoy the day, but being able to update in real time is what it’s all about. No need for worries about roaming data!
It also goes beyond the day itself – part of the appeal of a tweetup is bringing people together and the event itself is in an odd way just the beginning. The #meetRay hashtag is still being used several days later as the group keeps in touch, and we haven’t even begun sharing the many, many photos that were shot on the day.