Over the course of three days this May 2019, entrepreneurs, tech moguls, venture capitalists, and all sorts of other innovators from across the world gathered at the Enercare Centre in Toronto, Canada. Over 25,000 attendees were treated to a star-studded speaker line-up, keynotes, panel discussions, innovative sessions, expert workshops, and networking galore! But didn’t make it to the Collision Conference? Don’t worry – we’re recapping our favourite event experience design innovations from Collision that can be easily implemented at your next event, no matter what your budget!
Inspiration #1: Crowdsourcing attendee opinions
While crowdsourcing attendee opinions at events is certainly not a new or innovative idea – we loved how Collison executed this concept!
Collision took a tactile approach to crowdsourcing information from attendees. Throughout the three event days, attendees interacted with 4 – 5 different wall installations placed throughout the venue. Each wall was about 8’ x 15’ in size, showing roughly three questions with graphs, circles, or charts and a roll of orange circle stickers to share feedback. Attendees were instructed to answer the questions by placing the stickers on the wall. The result was incredible – a visual representation of how attendees felt about finances, work-life-balance, AI, blockchain and more.
How can you incorporate this into your event experience design?
If your goal is to crowdsource opinions from attendees, first consider if you require hard data or if visual data will do. If the latter is the case, consider our DIY solution, but if you require quantitative data like the number of responses, percentages of each answer, etc. our tech solution is perfect for you.
Pros to Crowdsourcing:
- Answers are anonymous so people may be more inclined to answer honestly
- The creative display enhances event branding
- A visual reminder of important industry questions
- Great sponsorship opportunities
Cons to Crowdsourcing:
- High Cost (360 degree branding with vinyl printing, free-standing large scale walls, enough stickers for attendees to answer over a dozen questions, labour to install, etc.)
Solutions to make crowdsourcing easier to execute
Take away the free-standing walls, labour, and expensive printing and replace with venue walls, posters, and sponsors! Create one poster for each question you want to ask. By designing each poster individually, you can customize the size and design of the poster to fit your venue, installation location, and sponsor.
Questions on the poster can either be generated by your event team to ask larger industry related questions or can be used as an opportunity to generate sponsorship dollars and have partners sponsor a poster question. With that in mind, ultimately, it is up to you whether you brand the posters with your event branding or sponsor branding.
Lastly, there are a few options on how to display attendee responses. If you’re tight on budget you can design the posters to use markers instead of stickers for attendee responses – but if you can spring for the stickers not only do they add a layer of fun, they can be customized. For example, you could use different coloured stickers for different attendee types to visually see the differences or similarities of responses amongst different stakeholders.
Use a live polling tool like EventMobi to create and display your questions. With EventMobi – each live polling question has its own results page that can easily be displayed on screens around the venue. With this solution, each question can be displayed in a vertical or horizontal bar chart, a pie graph, or text-based answers. Attendees will use your event app to easily answer the questions and watch as the results change in real time, right before their eyes!
Essentially, aside from the event app itself, the only hard cost to produce this would be to rent the display screens and even that doesn’t have to be the case. Why not go a step further and use this as a sponsorship opportunity where partners can sponsor a question and get brand recognition? Part of their sponsorship revenue could cover the cost of the screens. The cost to you would be zero and you actually get the benefit of all the data gathered from the question and answers. With all that data you can take beautiful screenshots and generate an effective post-event content marketing piece to distribute to all event attendees.
Take Away – Just because you heavily use event technology like event apps doesn’t mean you should forego onsite tactile activations. However, digital can be a cost saving opportunity for easy onsite innovation.
Inspiration #2: Media Lounge
Collision had a massive space allocated for media to host press releases, product releases, and important company announcements – all on the tradeshow floor! The area took up a huge chunk of space on the floor and required hundreds of chairs, couches, and tables for major label media partners. It was sleekly designed and had a buzz about it that had you just wanting to know what was up!
How can you incorporate this into your event experience design?
I don’t know about you – but a media lounge at an event just screams “this-event-is-a-big-deal” and “if you aren’t here you’re going to miss out on the most important news of the year.” Well, Collision is exactly that, but why can’t your event accomplish the same acclaim and solidify yourself and your event as the leader in your industry.
Pros to a Media Lounge:
- Gives companies the opportunity to further amplify their voice to your attendees
- Produces additional content for your event for pre/post-event marketing and follow-ups
- Diversifies your sponsor participation opportunities and offerings – value-add for higher level sponsors
Cons to a Media Lounge:
- A lounge space is costly to produce
- Needs to be managed throughout the event
Solutions to make creating a media lounge easier
Use a pre-existing lounge space that you are already planning for and add a media table there. In your lounge space, take a branded 8×8 back wall with a 6ft table and set up chairs theatre style in front. Give sponsors and business partners the opportunity to submit their industry news. Create a running time slot for each to give a short presentation and Q&A time. Attendees can either participate during the event or read through the release post-event. If you’re quick enough – you can put it in a daily event email newsletter recapping the day.
Another idea is to let your industry media partners plan it all!
Don’t have the space or want to invest the time to set-up? Consider creating a “Media Lounge” in the event app where business partners and sponsors can submit their press releases or industry news to you. If it makes the cut, you can then upload and host the document in the “Media Lounge” space of the app. Pre-plan and schedule push notifications and alerts throughout the event promoting the news and encourage attendees to visit the Media Lounge in the app to download and learn more.
Take Away – Elevate the impact of your event long after it’s over by using your event to continue to establish yourself as leaders in your industry. Create an additional platform to share and curate the most important news of the industry at your event!
Inspiration #3: Unique exhibit booth options
Typically trade shows offer booths starting from a 10×10 and work their way up in size to a more deluxe and custom experience for sponsors. Collision had an innovative take on exhibit booths that was specifically designed for their clientele and audience. Essentially, based on their target audience of start-ups and tech companies at all stages of growth, it meant that the typical one- size fits all exhibit booth offering would not cut it. Smaller start-ups in the earliest of stages wouldn’t be able to afford the investment of being at Collision and cutting them out of the picture wasn’t an option because often that is where the latest and greatest of innovation can be found. The end result was three different types of booths on the trade show floor.
Alongside offering a fully branded booth as part of the exhibitor package, there were two additional exhibit options that were more turn-key. Option 2 was a pod of four exhibitor tables with standardized hanging branded signs. These exhibitors were there for all three days of the conference. Option 3 consisted of long benches divided with standardized hanging branded signs to divide the spaces for each exhibitor. They designed these booths to be reused quickly and easily the next day by another exhibitor. This means that one space was sold three times ($$$) and they were able to increase the number of participating exhibitors for attendees at the event. This also meant keeping the trade show floor fresh and new each day.
How can you incorporate this into your event experience design?
Not every potential exhibitor has the same event marketing budget and that shouldn’t be the reason they can’t exhibit at your event. Smaller companies that can’t necessarily afford your exhibit fees have a lot to give to your event, attendees, and industry. Including them in your event can be the opportunity you are looking for to give your event the extra competitive edge of industry influence. Consider giving all levels of business partners additional opportunities to exhibit at your event at different price points.
Pros to unique exhibit booth options:
- Increases your trade show revenue
- Visually breaks up your trade show floor
- Adds value to attendees by exposing them to new and up and coming businesses in the industry each day. Bonus – it keep attendees on the show floor all show days
Cons to unique exhibit booth options:
- You will need to invest in creating different types of spaces for them to participate
Solutions to offering unique exhibit booth options
Work with a local event decor and furniture company to come up with small exhibit stands for rotating companies. Don’t just do a cruiser table with a tablecloth. Standardize the space and make it easy for attendees to easily identify who they are and what they do with effective signage. Check out what Collision did for this space. They used crate style workbenches all in one row and sectioned it off with hanging signage above. The signage showed off their logo, and brief 1 or 2 line description of their company, and identified the booth number. Each day the signage was changed out for the next exhibitor using the space.
If you can’t afford to create different exhibiting spaces – go digital – Create an “Up and Coming” style space in your event app that is separate from exhibiting companies on the tradeshow floor. You could sell listings to companies that may not be exhibiting at the event but want to be present. Attach the company’s onsite representative’s profile to their listing and encourage attendees to connect with each other.
Take Away – Increase trade show revenue while providing exhibiting opportunities to new and upcoming businesses in your industry.
- Meeting points on the trade show floor – Collision made it easy for thousands of attendees to easily communicate where they are by having multiple hanging signs designating an open space as a ‘meeting point’. Instead of having attendees use other booths and booth numbers as meeting spots they used open spaces that would make it easier to pick out who you were meeting with.
- Wellness spaces – With new tech encouraging onsite relaxation. Collision had a dedicated silent meditation & yoga space where attendees could get away from the hustle & bustle of the trade show floor. The space was serenely decorated and floor cushions were provided for each space. Everyone couldn’t help but stop and take a picture at this space – for its uniqueness and desire to participate!
- Breakouts on the trade show floor – Collision’s conference was set up quite differently than the typical show I’ve been to in our industry. Instead of using meeting rooms to hold sessions and the open space of the exhibition floor to host exhibitors, Collision designed their event to incorporate everything onto the same floor. They creatively used heavy draping, proper stage lighting and sound to create these dedicated spaces on the show floor. This design made it feel like sessions were taking place away from the business conducted at booths but not far enough away that they were in a separate room. The effect was a full buzz of attendees all day, every day. From start to finish the trade show floor never felt quiet or slow, and the sessions were always packed with attendees.
- Sponsored dedicated Workshop or Session areas on the trade show floor – Interact created round tables, AWS (amazon web services) created a developer workshop space, Siemens had a lounge – just to name a few. These sponsored spaces not only created innovative education spaces at the event – it also took the load off the event organizers to fully program the conference and allowed sponsors to get some major facetime with attendees. What we saw – let your sponsors and industry leaders do just that – sponsor an opportunity to be industry leaders!