Save Your Event Before it Starts: How to Engage a Line

Your line can be your greatest gift, or your greatest curse, you decide. Once you stop ignoring your line your attendees with thank you for it.

Back when I was employed at a particularly relevant fruit-based tech company (who shall remain nameless), one of my sole responsibilities was quality control of the line of people on product launch day and maintaining an overall positive atmosphere was paramount to our success during this very hectic day. There were always the 20-30 patrons that had waited there since the dark hours of the morning, and some even that would stay overnight.

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Needless to say, for these poor individuals, a break-the-ice conversation about how long they have to wait is not exactly what they want to hear. Your registrants may not be waiting overnight but the long line is an opportunity to give your attendees their first impression of what a great experience your event will be! A great line experience is like good hold music; nothing like getting lost in the groove of some great tunes to distract from the fact that you’re waiting. They could have such a good time in line, they’ll forget there’s an even better main event. One of my favorite rides at Disneyland is Indiana Jones Adventure ride. Particularly because the line leads you through a spooky temple complete with traps and oozy cavern walls. They put you in the experience before you ever get strapped in the car.


There is a great opportunity we as event organizers are missing if we just allow a “line” to simply be a “line” or queue for our non-US organizers.

Let me throw some ideas your way.

1.  Get Answers to the Important Questions

We all know waiting is inconvenient. People really don’t like it. So what can we do? Keep people in the know and give them realistic expectations. Choose someone from your team specifically designated to have an answer for all those questions who can be outgoing, friendly, and informative. This person can resolve issues, answer questions, and even create a buzz. Not to mention, this can be the difference between a happy event-goer and an unhappy event-goer.

2.  Get the Goodies

I know this may be somewhat of a foreign idea, but this one thing can easily turn a grumpy line into a group of evangelists by giving stuff away! This may need somewhat of a budget, but the potential rewards reaped can be exponential. This can come in the form of consumables: candy, water, burritos. Also swag to help promote your event: wristbands, t-shirts, temporary tattoos. Know anyone that has a T-shirt cannon? Time to cash in a favor. Do you have that buddy who works the line at Chipotle? Give him a call. The sky’s the limit! Delight your attendees and surprise them with some goods!

3.  Get Your People Moving

I don’t mean this to say “get your event all checked in and underway asap”. On the contrary, it means simply what it says. I once hosted a 300 participant game of Simon Says outside our convention center once. You’ve never seen a more epic display of people hopping on one leg and spinning around while patting their heads. Got a sound system? Time for the Cupid Shuffle. This is the part where you can definitively show that your event doesn’t just start once they walk through the door, but outside it as well. They will be energized, enthused, and most importantly, anticipating your doors to open. Anticipation > waiting.

I wish I could tell you this methodology will guarantee your event success and will generate overall euphoria for your attendees. But it will certainly lead to a richer experience for your attendees when you have an above average line experience.