You’ll always fondly recall the way gingerbread smelled in your grandmother’s kitchen. Why not engage your event attendees using experiential marketing strategies that trigger the same kind of memories and emotions?
Maximizing audience engagement is key to the success of any event, and ensuring your people can connect with you on a personal level will help maximize your investment.
Appeal to event attendees’ senses—creatively and uniquely.
Attendees today continue to become more and more sophisticated, and they have an expectation your event will satisfy a multitude of senses. But because a sense-ational experience isn’t created accidentally, here are just a few ways you can cater to your people.
Scents. The smell of gingerbread might instantly transport you back to your grandmother’s kitchen. Closing your eyes, you can see her checkered tablecloth, feel the warmth as you sit on the wooden stool next to her stove, and hear her humming along as she bakes. Similarly, the sense of smell can take an attendee back to your event. Enhance your evening function by incorporating smells of the region—local florals or spices—and send your guests home with a sensory reminder.
Colors. In the same way that certain scents help us subconsciously remember experiences, colors can guide them, making an event feel energetic and exciting, or soothing and relaxing. Pay attention to the season’s featured Pantone palette (the global authority on color), and incorporate color trends into your event. Not only will it keep your event current and fresh, but it will also allow you to utilize color as an expressive element.
Flavors. Your attendees expect their taste buds to be delighted at your event, so consider current event catering trends to help elevate your event. Craft cocktails are popular, and incorporating local herbs into drinks will help you take things up a notch. The fresh take on mixology blends the farm-to-table trend into your cocktail menus and offers your guests new and inspired flavors. Interested in caffeinated beverage trends? The Teaspressa cart, recently featured on Shark Tank, offers an interactive brewing element, that allows you to showcase how tea and coffee drinks can be revamped for a new generation.
Interactivity. Interacting on a personal level will hit on all your attendee’s senses, so consider incorporating additional interactive elements into your food and beverage presentation. In fact, interactivity is a major reason to have a face-to-face event. Things like local, fresh-from-the-garden items featured in a wheelbarrow, drinks served from “bike tenders”, floating cocktail bars and dim sum-style rolling carts all help create a unique and memorable event experience.
Personalize the event experience—and make it one they’ve never experienced before.
Try these things:
Make the pre-event experience seamless and streamlined. Starting from your event registration website, create an online experience before the event that encapsulates what your people will feel and encounter while on site. After all, there are countless events out there—making your website stand apart is a key way of getting attendees to buy their ticket. But don’t stop there. Choosing the right communications tactics builds fervor before, during and after the event.
Allow attendees to experience the event destination as a local. If you are bringing your audience to a new and/or exotic destination, allow them to immerse themselves in the culture. For example, team up with a local chef and head to the farmer’s market to handpick fresh produce from the region. Then, host a cooking class where guests can enjoy their harvest by preparing regional specialties with local cooking techniques. Tip: Allow them to modify the meal to suit their personal tastes.
Related: Interested in trying incentive travel? Consider these timely incentive travel trends when planning and operating your program.
Give your people time to engage with speakers. In many instances, the event keynote speakers you choose are a big draw—hearing from a top name in your industry might even be the main reason an attendee signed up. Give your people a chance to hang out with top speakers for a once-in-a-lifetime educational experience.
Weave in event wellness trends to energize and inspire. Offering a sunrise yoga session is a great start, but go one step further and follow it up with a class on juicing. Or, feature a personal session with a local nutritionist who can customize a food plan attendees can bring home to continue the wellness experience.
Feature customizable amenities. In most cases, one specific gift may not appeal to all your attendees, so create an amenity suite where they have freedom of choice—one large gift, or a few smaller gifts. Or, hand out shopping totes and encourage attendees to create their own snack-food amenity based on preference. During the welcome event, help guests create personalized bouquets for their guest room, allowing them to pick their favorites from a fully stocked flower cart. Or, host amenity bars (boots, jeans, hats and gloves) that allow your guests to personally select an item most appealing to them, guaranteeing their lasting enjoyment.
Don’t just engage with your audience during the event. Your event is a journey, not a destination, so create opportunities for measurable event success and continued engagement—opportunities that allow your attendees to look back on and continuously enjoy the event experience.