Originally published on May 28, 2019. Updated on November 14, 2023.
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 available 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 bystanders. This is where experiential event technology comes into play.
Experiential event technology combines various tools that allow the audience to engage and interact throughout the entire event lifecycle. These four interactive options won’t blow the budget but can open up a world of attendee engagement.
1. Hashtags and Social Media
There’s no denying social media transformed the way the world communicates, interacts, and shares content. Hashtags add a new dimension by increasing social media engagement, boosting impressions, improving the searchability of your event, and attracting new followers.
Create an event hashtag using your event name or tagline. For example, the hashtag for our signature event, the M&IW Summit, is #MIWAnnualSummit. Once you’ve chosen a hashtag, use it every chance you can to build awareness and increase usage. After all, attendees can’t use or search for the hashtag if they don’t know about it. It can even be included in print materials. But remember that if your hashtag includes the year, those materials will need to be updated annually.
Beyond hashtags, social media is a great place to promote your event, generate excitement, interact with attendees and followers, and drive traffic to the event website. Encourage shares, likes, and comments. If the budget allows, use the event social media platforms for gamification by offering 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. In today’s digital world, the various uses of event apps are only limited to your imagination. Apps can notify attendees of start times and agenda updates by pushing device notifications. When connected to the event’s social media sites, it gives attendees the ability to share their thoughts, ideas, and snapshots. If you don’t have public-facing social media, you can create a networking feed within the app just for attendees.
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. With completely customizable features to meet any event need, a properly engineered event mobile app will generate excitement before, during, and after an event.
Gamification brings attendees together and plays off their emotions and motivations, providing them with memorable, quality experiences. The challenges and point system add a competitive, interactive element to your event that boosts engagement.
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, offer extra networking time, or 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. Public shout outs during meals, for example, keep the game top of mind and encourage greater participation and competition, making your gamification a success.
4. Live Audience Polling
Live audience polling is incredibly versatile and can very easily be incorporated into an event app. 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, polls are useful for breaking up the long, drawn-out PowerPoint. But have you considered using them for icebreakers? Icebreaker questions are a great way to welcome attendees and spark conversations. Live polling is also a great way to help ensure all attendees have the opportunity to participate equally. Participants’ answers and questions are anonymous, offering a voice to everyone including those less likely to speak in front of a crowd.
Making Your Event Memorable
Overall, experiential event technology has the ability to elevate your event and make it an enjoyable and memorable experience for all attendees. Social media and event mobile apps allow connections to be made with all attendees at every point in the event lifecycle. Event promotions and updates can be communicated in an efficient and easy-to-access manner. Gamification makes an event interactive, and it allows attendees to not only learn and make connections but also enjoy themselves and test their skills alongside colleagues. Live audience polling allows feedback to be communicated in a timely manner and promotes improvement for each event, allowing future events to be even more successful.
To learn more about how these and other event technologies can be incorporated into your next event, contact us today. Already an M&IW customer? Contact your Customer Success Manager.