Are you trying to figure out how to design an event experience? Technology is many event planners’ secret weapon and has the power to be massively impactful to achieving your event goals. A true experience designer will take a critical approach to analyze every significant touchpoint within the event lifecycle, with the goal of understanding where it makes sense to integrate technology.
Below, we’ve listed some of the most common event touchpoints and goals and provided ideas on how technology can be used to help achieve these goals. From the first visit to the event website to the follow up after the event, a mixture of these elements can help to create and refine the experience mix for your attendees and other stakeholders.
Goal #1: Event Website and Online Registration
Nowadays, attendees are more likely to access your online content via mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) than on a PC so your event website and registration process must be easily navigable and responsive to the screen size. Also, Google gives preference in search results to mobile-optimized sites with the fastest loading speeds.
Consider the following stats:
Don’t give potential attendees an unnecessary reason to click away from registering for your event.
- On the website, include consistent event brand visuals and a strong CTA (Call-to-Action) button in a bold color so that attendees are clear about what they need to do.
- Use website analytical tools such as Google Analytics to make informed decisions about design and improve the navigation and time on site.
- For the registration process, have a single page or include a progress bar at the top so attendees know how far along they are.
- Look for a tool that enables social login, which takes some or all of the registration data required from a social media platform. The only thing attendees have to do is double check their information before submitting.
- For visitors who didn’t end up registering the first time, use personalized retargeting to tempt them back into the registration process
- Use tagged URLs and unique landing pages in your retargeting campaigns based on the hook that initially attracted the visitor
Goal #2: Deliver a fast and seamless onsite event registration and arrival
First impressions matter. High value is placed on that first face-to-face interaction your attendee has with your event brand and event team. Starting off on the wrong foot can negatively impact their entire event experience. Refer to the following tips to ensure a smooth event run.
- Avoid queues by enabling automatic check-in via your event app when attendees enter the venue. For fast check-in, consider using facial recognition technology.
- Use a check-in tool or guestlist app that provides additional information about the attendee, enabling your team to provide a more personalized welcome experience for guests, such as swag for VIPs.
- Create a grand entrance by using AV and production that starts from outside the venue with lighting projections onto the building.
- Digital signage and live displays can be used to welcome and direct attendees, such as which entrance to use and how to get to the registration area.
- Incorporate a cashless payment system. Attendees will appreciate not having to queue at service points. Plus, this can increase sales volumes and teach you a lot about attendee preferences and spending patterns so you can improve your next event.
Recommended Read: 5 Popular Event Game Ideas for Increasing Attendee Engagement & Learning
Goal #3: Promote better connections between attendees
If networking is one of the outcomes your attendees are craving, your event design needs to give sufficient time and opportunity for these types of interactions. Informal professional networks and communities can contribute more to entrepreneurial success than any other business support method. As a bonus, if you design an event experience with impactful networking interactions, attendees are going to remember your experience in a very favorable light.
- Use a matchmaking tool so attendees can identify and start a conversation with those who have shared interests. Some apps prioritize or give a percentage score to matches that have the most overlap.
- Use smart badge technology to introduce matches to each other. Smart badges light up or vibrate when a suggested target is close by. This can also act as an icebreaker to encourage people to meet new people.
Goal #4: Attract and keep event sponsors and exhibitors by providing high value
Revenue from sponsors and exhibitors can be a significant portion of your overall event revenues. Therefore, it is vital to delivering an experience that provides great value and in order to keep them coming back next year. Technology can be used to design a more interactive and appealing show floor.
- Create more engaging booths by using touch screens, gamification, or AR (Augmented Reality). AR can enable exhibitors to share products that would not otherwise have made the event.
- Use lead retrieval technology to make it easy for them to accurately record leads, and follow up with after the event
- A virtual goody bag is a good way to provide exposure and increase anticipation in the lead up to the event. Exhibitors can offer a giveaway to people who sign up for their mailing list, which can be picked up when attendees visit their booth at the event.
- Use push notifications with special offers to entice more attendees to visit booths. These can be triggered by passing beacons in specific areas.
Goal 5: Maximize the learning opportunities at your event
Learning is a key motivator for attendees when going to an event. That’s why education through programming, content, speakers, and exhibits is one of the most important parts of the event experience. An event needs to keep interest levels high and should spark ideas and energy in participants.
- Make learning more interactive and fun throughout your event by using audience response systems for live Q&A, polls, and feedback surveys. Information gathered can be used by the speaker to adapt the content of their presentation in real time to ensure it is relevant and customized to the audience.
- Use collaborative documents to invite participants to answer questions, such as asking medical students to identify anomalies in an x-ray. A heat map can then highlight the group responses and enable an engaging conversation.
- At business events, tech can be used for partner work to record pledges or introduce a completely different approach, such as a hackathon event format, where small groups collaborate to solve a problem and create a solution within a set timeframe
In this day in age of event planning, the question of how to design an event experience goes beyond logistics. In order to compete for attendee loyalty, event professionals need to design experiences that resonate with the audience and will have an impact on them in a unique and memorable way.
Technology such as event tech, AV, and production is an easy way to elevate to the event experience and offers so much variety. Ultimately, for each element you consider, always ask how it will help you achieve your event goals.
For more tips and best practices on how to design an event experience using technology, read the ebook Experience Design: A Complete Guide to Creating Memorable Events. Plus, earn 1 CE!