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| Written by Mae Ibe, CMP

Affordable Event Technology in an Experiential World

How do you create an engaging event without breaking the bank? Do you have to sacrifice quality because you’re operating on a shoestring budget? Are you feeling restricted by the limited means you have to promote your event?

When it comes to events, attendees’ expectations have increased leaps and bounds over the past few years. Participants are looking for memorable experiences. They want to be part of the event, not simply a bystander. This is where experiential marketing comes into play. Experiential marketing combines various tools that allow the audience to engage and interact throughout the entire event – pre, during and post.

Here are five engaging event technologies that won’t blow the budget but can create a whole lot of engagement:

1) Hashtags / Social Media

Although social media has been around since the late 1970s with the invention of the Bulletin Board System, it never really took off until almost 30 years later. Over the past 10 plus years, social media has transformed the way the world communicates, interacts and shares content. Hashtag campaigns have added a new dimension, that appeals to the emotional side, which in turn creates engagement and memorable experiences. Great examples of this are the #ShareACoke by Coca-Cola and Lay’s #DoUsAFlavor campaigns.

Hashtags can boost impressions and improve the searchability of your event. Create an event hashtag and use it every chance you can, think of it as Frank’s hot sauce for the social world, put it on everything including printed materials. Hashtags are individually searchable and on some social sites can be followed. They increase social media engagement and attract new followers.

Social media is a great place to promote your event, generate excitement, interact with attendees & followers, and drive traffic to the event website. Encourage sharing, likes and comments. If the budget allows, use the event social media platforms for gamification, offer rewards or bonus points for each interaction that will apply to a final tally and the possibility of winning a reward at the end of the event.

2) Event Mobile App

A mobile app is a digital guide to your event, offering real-time information and updates, nowadays the various uses of event apps are only limited to your imagination. Apps can notify attendees of start times and agenda updates by pushing notifications through. When connected to the event’s social media sites it gives attendees the ability to share their thoughts, ideas and snapshots. Well programmed event apps allow attendees to search, connect and schedule meetings with like-minded peers. They offer the ability to create and manage a personal schedule. In addition, mobile apps can be used for gamification, live polling, and instant feedback.

A properly engineered event mobile app will generate excitement prior, during and after an event.

3) Gamification

Gamification brings attendees together and provides them with memorable, quality experiences. It elevates the emotional experience of your attendees by presenting challenges and point systems. It gives players the ability to complete challenges and adds a competitive, interactive element to your event. Gamification works because it accesses the emotions and motivations of attendees. It can even be incorporated into the event app and applied to social media sites. When using gamification at an event think about the expectations of the audience and what you want to achieve from the gaming experience, is your goal to have attendees gain additional knowledge, perhaps it’s to offer extra networking time or maybe it’s to add a bit of fun to your event. Regardless of what your intent is, you must keep the participants engaged and active throughout the event. Two great ways of achieving this are big screen leaderboards and public shout outs during meals. These are guaranteed to keep attendees in the competitive mode and make your gamification a success.

4) Live Audience Polling

This is another great use of experiential marketing and can very easily be incorporated into an event app. What’s great about live audience polling is how versatile it is. It’s a great way to interact with attendees and offers instant gratification and feedback to the event owners and audience. When using live polling think outside of the box, yes, they are amazing at breaking up the long drawn out PowerPoint. But have you ever considered using them for ice breakers? Ice breaker questions are a great way to welcome, spark conversations and create interaction between attendees. Live polling is also a great way to help ensure all attendees have the opportunity to participate equally. Participants’ answers and questions are anonymous, therefore offering a voice to everyone, including those that are less likely to speak in front of a crowd.

5) Live Stream Event

Reach a larger audience at a low cost. A Live stream provides value and engages audiences. Plus, experiential marketing can be applied easily by simply offering a chat box. The opportunity to interact with influencers and live polling increases engagement to those viewing the event from afar. These points will boost your online audience engagement and assist in keeping the focus of the viewers.

The evolution of event technology is rapidly changing, with these changes prices that were once through the ceiling are more affordable. This gives the event owner the ability to organize a budget-friendly impactful event. Experiential marketing combines various tools that allow the audience to engage and interact throughout the entire event.

The use of any or all the event technology ideas will increase attendees emotional experience and can assist in making events better.