Are you in the game? Your next event is competing against dozens of other events your attendee will come across in 2018. Whether your goal is to get your association’s members to become volunteers, or to generate more revenue or brand awareness for your company, the approach to event experience design goes way beyond choosing an interesting venue, ordering delicious food or selecting beautiful flowers. As event planners, it’s our mission to design memorable, meaningful, and valuable event experiences for attendees at all points along their event journey.
Several industries use the term “experience design” to convey this, but it may mean different things to different people. After all, “what on earth isn’t an “experience?” (Bruce Sterling, 2009) “Experience design is closer in spirit to theatre, poetry or even philosophy than it is to the older assembly line,” Sterling writes.
For a user experience (UX) designer, the practice refers to optimizing the user experience so that technology operates intuitively and is easy to use. For the Manager of Operations, he/she may leverage experience design to coordinate people, materials and processes.
In the case of event planning, designing a memorable event experience adopts many of the same principles that would be relevant to the aforementioned lines of work, but the most important thing to keep in mind is your attendees. Namely, who are your attendees and what do they need/want?
Here are 5 tips on how to create an impactful experience design that will engage your attendees:
1. Leverage an event tech provider
There are so many benefits to going with a third party vendor if you have limited internal resources and expertise. For your event to go off without a hitch, going paperless will not only allow you to save on printing costs but will also provide you with a streamlined event planning experience. Making the decision to leverage an event tech provider will prepare you for post-event analytics and showcasing ROI to your senior management or sponsors, in addition to simplifying the planning journey. The right event tech provider will also connect your various data sources all in one place. Imagine your customer relationship management (CRM) system pushing data to your registration system and also auto-populating your event app with participants and their schedules. Gone are the days when you have to manually match this data on a spreadsheet with a ruler.
Experience design dictates that we think about our attendees. Are they tech savvy? Perhaps they prefer to call in their credit card information over the phone or carry a paper copy of their schedule around. Consider how many hours of your staff’s or volunteer’s time is saved when just a fraction of your attendees move online and doesn’t require staff resources.
2. Design a seamless event registration experience
Whether your event is for an association or a corporation, attendees have common needs and wants. When it comes to registration, providing an easy experience with as few hurdles as possible is key. Consider what are the biggest pain points for the attendee during this stage. What are possible solutions?
As an event planner, a registration system that syncs up data with your CRM system is equally important as designing a great front-facing registration experience for your attendee. The options are endless when you move your registration into the same technical ecosystem as your existing information. Your registration data will allow you to provide a customized event experience for each attendee. For example, perhaps in your pre-event communications, you want to offer a special alumni rate or code to past attendees.
3. Meet your attendees on their mobile devices with an event app
Your attendees are always on their mobile devices at your event, so it’s the perfect opportunity to take advantage of technology that’s already literally in their hands. Leveraging mobile event technology will add on another layer and elevate the overall event experience.
Designing a positive event app experience often means choosing a reputable provider who will have reliable technology. You wouldn’t want to risk offering your event app as a sponsorship opportunity (e.g. push notifications promoting a product), only for it to become glitchy. Or worse pushing out an alert sending your attendees to the wrong exhibitor booth! How do you think your sponsors will feel about returning as a sponsor next year?
Recommended Read: The Ultimate Guide to Event App Customization
Going back to experience design, think about how your attendees will use the app. What elements will meet their needs and wants, and should, therefore, be in your app technology plan in your critical path? For example, is document sharing going to be important for your attendees? What about gamification? And that brings us to the 4th tip…
4. Design game elements into your event
Broadly speaking, almost anything that offers a reward by incentivizing an action can be considered gamification. However, designing a gamification challenge that your attendees will love isn’t as easy as it sounds.
For a list of creative and fun gamification ideas that have been used by EventMobi clients, read the Ultimate Guide to Gamification.
Once you’ve come up with an idea to wow and engage your attendees, the execution stage is a team effort. An event tech support team from your vendor will come in handy to not only provide build and execute but also provide suggestions and ideas on how you might add a bit of friendly competition and reward your attendees to get them participating.
5. Promote your branding with a live display
At your event venue, showcase your organization’s branding without breaking the bank. Immersing your attendees into the event doesn’t mean you have to pay your venue to paint their stair steps in your brand colours or spend a fortune on printing large banners to be hung from the ceiling. Leveraging digital signage (screens) will help remind your attendees about the next speaker, session locations, or alert them of any real-time updates.
Recommended Read: Live Display Will Change the Way You Think About Social Walls
Experience design includes several elements and moving parts that might be difficult to keep track of, especially if you have a small team with many other responsibilities. All of the above elements make up a well-designed event experience and can be accessed through a single event technology provider.
At EventMobi, we believe experience design is at the heart of any successful event and engaged attendee. It’s a topic that we’re passionate about! We’re focused on bringing organizations event technology that prioritizes the attendee experience above all else. Learn how event technology can design an event experience that excites and delights your audience.
Contact an EventMobi event tech consultant today.