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Five Smart Tools to Engage Guests at Events

This top event professional shares his toolbox to get distracted event guests engaged.

The world is too full--there is a real competition for the attention and involvement of users. This is already noticeable in online communications, and we increasingly see it offline. Now it is high time to reconsider the approach and tools for involving guests at events.

Formats of various events can be completely different. Everyone knows classic conferences, product presentations, exhibitions and more, but today more companies combine existing formats to give guests a new experience--these can be immersive and pop-up projects, sponsorship integrations, and events that include a variety of elements.

In addition to a wide variety of event formats, there are many tools to engage guests. We’ve been organizing events for a long time, and over time, we managed to test all of these tools.

Here I would like to discuss the tools that are applicable to any event format. The main thing is to remember what meaning each of these have.

1. Influencer marketing
We do not argue against the fact that there are a huge number of successful integrations of opinion leaders in the digital campaign, but there are not many of them in event and experiential marketing. That’s why this tool is here. Its potential in events is huge.
Social media can do wonders. In addition to already well-known targeting, you should involve your opinion leaders in the organization and promotion of the event.
Opinion leaders can greatly increase the attendance and recognition of your event, but you need to be careful about this tool. It’s not necessary to spend a large part of the budget on celebrities; more often, it’s better to spend this money on micro-influencers with a lower price, but with higher involvement and more credibility with your audience.
For example, our presentation of the new Audi Q3, which was broadcast on the Instagram account of Audi Russia, has been hosted by the charismatic presenter/actor Dmitry Kozhoma. He led the audience throughout the performance. He showed thematic spaces, brightly colored stands and, most importantly, an epic presentation of the new Audi Q3. During the broadcast, he also oversaw a prize drawing for a free test drive of a new car and accessories from the Audi limited collection. The event reached 500,000 people online, and 1,500 people watched the live broadcast.

See it here:

2. Interactive polling
Many people are already aware of your event, but how can you interest them even more? Believe me, guests would like to participate in the creation of content: for example, to vote for a speaker, a guest artist or to offer their own performance. The possibility of involvement in the content of the event will make your audience believe in their contribution and, as a result, will lead to greater involvement in the event.

You can also increase involvement during the event by arranging a Q&A or live discussion with the speaker. Services such as Glisser or Slido will help attract the attention of participants and guests.

HP uses the real-time polling method at its sales conferences. The company organizes the analysis of the sales system at each regional conference. Teams go onstage to tell their best sales pitch.

At one of these conferences, the final decision came down to an audience poll. Simon Puleo, HP senior sales manager, created a multiple-choice poll that allowed the people to pick a clear winner.

At that moment, when people started writing messages or using the web interface, everyone could see the results on stage. They saw a strip passing across the screen and began to use all the devices, trying to get as many votes in as possible.

3. Gamification
Any way you look at it, we love excitement, so contests are a great way to interact with the audience. Encourage your guests’ initiative and participation in your activities.
It’s best to use products that are directly related to your brand. As part of the competition, people can get to know the product better and, accordingly, be more involved in your event.

Gamification can be introduced not only at the entertainment segment, but also at business and educational events. Make your event more interactive and diverse, because people want to experience real emotions.

For example, team games evoke a collegial spirit and contribute to the development of activity, and competition between teams provides an additional incentive. That's what the developers from YourMembership did. At one of their events in 2017 they created a world inspired by Harry Potter, which left a lasting impression.

The participants were divided into teams; each had to earn as many points as possible to win and receive a prize. Points were constantly updated on public lists. Guests could earn points by attending various sessions, scanning codes, sharing photos and being active on social networks. This helped create a sense of competition between the teams, as well as camaraderie within each team.

The result? Eighty-eight percent of guests downloaded the mobile app, and everyone who downloaded the app participated in the game.

4. Look at VR--Virtual Reality
Despite the fact that virtual reality is only at its beginning, these tool already surprise guests at events worldwide.

Through VR (virtual reality), a brand can involve an audience in an exciting audiovisual journey. Companies are already using virtual reality to market their products, to attract customers and to provide incredible sensory sensations.

Give guests the opportunity to experience the effect of complete immersion in your virtual reality; try to offer the product in VR before the guest can purchase it. Many brands and marketplaces have already implemented the function of trying on shoes and accessories through the smartphone’s camera, why not do it right at the event?

Insurance company NRMA Insurance has developed a car accident simulator to show how car safety has increased in recent times. “Victims” put on special VR equipment, got behind the wheel of a car dealership and then crashed into the barrier at the same speed as in real crash tests. Then the user went through the same simulation, but driving an old car with fewer safety features. The user personally experienced a major car accident, but in the end he or she is safe. This case brought the company the “Best in Show” award at the Sydney Royal Easter Show in 2014.

See more here:

5. Chat for participants
Everyone really enjoyed your event, and you would like to do one more. How, even after the event, to preserve and continue to develop the existing community? Create a chat in which guests can pose questions to speakers, invite their friends and make useful contacts. Subsequently, you will be able to announce your next events, conduct polling, receive feedback and be sure of a high attendance.

The organizers of one of the TEDx conferences made a Telegram chat for its participants, where they could also pose questions to the speakers. The event was over, but people stayed there and continued to be in the loop. The event team could also announce upcoming conferences, poll regarding the topics of future speeches, publish photos and videos of the best international TEDx and much more in the chat. As a result, even after the event, this community continued to communicate with each other.

How to get maximum results:

  • Do not be afraid to experiment. There is no perfect formula for an event, but there is an opportunity to try something new and combine incompatible ones.
  • Each tool can be adapted to any format and budget.
  • It is important to understand what problem you have to solve and, based on this, choose specific tools.
  • Remember that an event must change something in a person. Without involvement, new experience and emotions, it’s impossible to manage it.
  • The most important thing is the idea.

Technology and development are important--but still secondary--issues. Nowadays, you can implement anything you want!

Founder and partner of Moscow-based Eventum Premo, Alexander Shumovich is one of the best-known representatives of the Russian event industry. He appears in media as an expert and lectures on entrepreneurship, business and event marketing. Since 2015, Eventum Premo agency has been included on the Special Events “50 Top Event Companies" list.

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