Creative Ways to Make the Event Experience Memorable

By: Theresa Link
event attendees wearing 3-D glasses at interactive activity

Think of the memorable scents, tastes and sights that take you back to a time spent with loved ones. Whether the wafting baking aromas filling a kitchen in the fall with a beloved relative or seeing the purple, pink and blue shades of that perfect sunset while on your favorite vacation. The memory is vivid, personal and delivers a rush of endorphins leaving positive feelings in its wake.   

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 your brand on a personal level will help maximize your investment.

It’s important to evaluate how you engage with your attendees and find out what inspires and moves them.

Engage Event Attendees’ Senses Creatively & Uniquely

Attendees today continue to become more sophisticated and have an expectation your event will satisfy a multitude of senses. Because a sensational experiential event isn’t created accidentally, here are a few ways you can cater to your audience.
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.
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, it will also allow you to utilize color as an expressive element.
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 Teaspessra cart, 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.
Interacting on a personal level will hit on all your attendees' 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.

Personalized Experiences Make Your Event Unlike Any Other

From picking an event venue to ensuring event security, you devote significant time, energy and resources to creating events that stand apart.

Make sure your efforts resonate by designing activities and amenities that can be personalized for higher perceived value.

Six ideas to try:  
1. Make the pre-event experience seamless and streamlined. 
Starting with your event registration website, create an online experience before the event that encapsulates what your people will feel and encounter on the event. Making your website stand apart is a key way of getting attendees to buy their ticket or register to attend. But don’t stop there. Choosing the right communications tactics builds fervor before, during and after the event.
2. Follow all pandemic health protocols to make your attendees feel safe.
By making sure that you have a plan in place for sanitizing and social distancing, attendees can relax knowing their safety is a top priority. This peace of mind allows attendees to focus on all the little touches.
If you are bringing your audience to a new and/or exotic destination, encourage them to immerse themselves in the culture. For example, team up with a local chef and head to the farmers 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: Looking for incentive travel alternatives? While the ability to execute your group travel event has recently shifted, you can still give them the recognition and reward they deserve.These ideas can help!

4. 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.
5. 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.
6. Feature customizable amenities. 
In most cases, one specific gift may not appeal to all your attendees, so create an amenity suite of event gifts where they have freedom of choice—one large gift, or a few smaller gifts that cultivate an authentic emotional connection. 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.

Audience Engagement Goes Beyond the Event

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. For more ways to strategically immerse your attendees in your brand and effectively engage with them at your next experiential event, check out our ebook, Growing Your Brand Through Immersive Experiences.
Theresa Link
Theresa Link

With more than 25 years of travel industry experience, Theresa has a proven passion for creating memorable, life-changing travel experiences. As a Senior Buyer for ITA Group, she focuses on matching her clients’ priorities with the right destination in order to achieve their objectives. In addition, Theresa focuses on sustainability, moving toward travel that is kind to the planet. Theresa is a member of the ITA Women’s Leadership Group, which has a mission of building connections, educating women, promoting achievements of women in the workplace and molding future leaders.