In the events world, one wears many hats: logistical rock stars, creative design ninjas, pricing gurus…the list goes on and on. However, in this world where we can “do it all” for our clients, we are designing more than events; we are creating experiences. We live for these moments…seeing the reaction from the guests when they arrive onsite, the satisfied clients when a program exceeds their expectations and the feedback we obtain to ensure we hit their business goals and objectives. But how do we get these results every time? It starts with the audience experience and ensuring we’ve created a sense of place for attendees to have unforgettable moments.
While live events are experiences, they do not always start with the consideration of the user or participant. Meeting and event planners often start with systems and resources (budget, venue, or even company priorities) and then eventually layer on what they’d like the audience to feel. However, this can undermine the power of the event. Swap the order of planning and start with the experience we want guests to have.
We continuously encourage our experience designers to consider how a client feels when the guests enter a property, not just checking the boxes to give them what they want. If the goal is to have attendees lose themselves in the moment, connecting with coworkers at the cocktail reception, or taking a few too many selfies by the end of the night, you must get them engaged.
According to a recent article in Entrepreneur Magazine there are some simple suggestions for reaching audiences:
- Be liberal with trust and creative freedom
- Stress authenticity
- Favor connection over structure
- Make it fun
So, how do you build in these characteristics to events?
Entertaining/An Experience (Edutainment)
People vote with their feet. If they aren’t being entertained, they will leave.
Today’s participant doesn’t want to sit and listen for long periods of time for a lecture, they want to be part of the cast.
With technology tracking our choices and preferences, consumers expect products and services to be customized to their needs and wants.
Savvy travelers and event participants want unique, authentic experiences that help them become immersed in the local culture.
A truly immersive experience pays attention to a variety of sensory elements, which help the brain engage at deeper levels. For example, one integral part of the experience is music. Using ambient music to calm the crowd down and rowdy music to liven them up will connect everyone on an auditory level. Engaging the senses of sight, touch, smell, taste and hearing drives more powerful memories.
From the general session to the offsite venue and everything in between, planners strive to make attendees as engaged as possible. Utilizing these characteristics we’ve shared helps build experiences and engagement for everyone.
Contact PRA today to learn how we can help you achieve this result for your next program.
Waterfront Fine Dining on the san Diego Bay
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