Even before COVID, entertainment and interaction were crucial talking points within our industry. Everyone was trying to outdo each other with outside-the-box ideas, hoping to ensure that their event was the one that would capture people’s attention.
But now the coronavirus crisis has left us with a plethora of questions. How do you engage event attendees in an era when we’re all trying to avoid infection? How do you make an event interactive, without losing the charm of physical contact? And how do you engage an audience virtually as part of a physical event?
Here you can find some advice on how to make your events interactive, imaginative – and, above all, successful. We’ll help you create a buzz around your event in these turbulent times, and get people out of their ‘stay at home’ funk – and into your venue.
Create an attractive pricing structure
We’ll talk about more creative stuff, like interactive event ideas and entertainment options, in due course. But first, it’s worth thinking about incentives that will resonate with prospective attendees.
John Gallery is the owner of Great Potential, a management consultancy focused on event venues. He says it’s important to set participation fees for online attendance higher than those for in-person – after all, those attending virtually won’t have the travel costs of those who are going to show up.
Gallery also says it’s worth issuing invitations to your target audience, offering one free place for every 10 delegates they secure online. “You do the math,” he says. “If 30 delegates bring 10 people online, that’s 300 delegates.” A healthy figure, given all that’s going on around us.
Use apps and social media effectively
The evidence is overwhelming: a strong digital presence can greatly boost the effectiveness of our event. 25% of all traffic to ticket and registration pages comes from social media; 88% of attendees believe it’s extremely important to be able to find event schedules via an app. So it’s definitely worth creating a dedicated app for your event, and ensuring that your Facebook, Twitter and Insta profiles are all on-point.
In your digital promotion, it’s important to emphasise the benefits that an in-person event can offer. After all, prior to COVID, over two-thirds of marketers said they considered presencial events effective; in 2019, 48% of event attendees said face-to-face interactions had become more important over the past two years. Make sure you give your potential guests every possible reason to attend in person.
Interactive event ideas
Fun activities for corporate events have long been crucial for our industry, and now they’re even more so. Interactive stalls, features and entertainment are a great way to jazz up your gathering and give people an extra reason to attend, while complying with social distancing.
Of course, some interactive event ideas, such as photo booths, food stations and swag stalls, are off-limits right now. However, you can still draw on a number of tried-and-tested staples, such as quizzes.
We’d also recommend using gamification, the application of game-playing principles to real-world problems; you can use your dedicated event app to create little puzzles and challenges for your delegates to solve, thereby providing extra entertainment during your event. From virtual prize wheels to InApp challenge contents, there’s a whole load of fun ideas you can incorporate.
Not only is gamification great for events entertainment, but it also helps to engage and connect with your audience. 95% of employees say they enjoy using gaming-inspired elements, so you can gain real traction by providing the same stimulation at your event.
Nail your networking
As well as making our events interactive and challenging to our attendees, we need to stick to the basics. And that means offering good, old-fashioned networking. A 2018 study found that the biggest single priority of attendees at corporate live events was networking (cited by 82% of respondents), so this has to remain front-and-centre of our planning.
Of course, the constraints of social distancing mean the old routine of business card-swapping is no longer possible. But you can still encourage your guests to exchange virtual cards or email addresses (your app could provide the ideal intermediary for this). And be sure to explore the potential of icebreaker activities; one idea we really like is to create avatars and allow guests to talk to each other virtually.
John Gallery has another great idea here, based around his earlier suggestion of encouraging physical attendees to secure online delegates. He suggests you give each face-to-face delegate responsibility to interact with their 10 online delegates, using an iPad or similar device. That way, they become an advocate for their ‘online 10’ and become a real stakeholder in the event’s success.
These ideas should provide you with all you need to create an engaging event, even amidst such uncertainty and apprehension. The rules of engagement may have changed, but the principles of great event planning remain the same: by providing creativity, entertainment and good business opportunities, we can still give our target audience an attractive package.