5 Attendee Engagement Ideas

Guest Post by Lauren Taylor

We’ve all heard it before—attention is one of the scarcest resources of the 21st century. Consumers are inundated with email marketing and other online campaigns, and businesses are finding it more and more difficult to stand out in a cluttered digital landscape.

Online marketing channels aren’t going away anytime soon, but an increasing number of organizations are turning to events and experiential marketing in order to make longer-lasting and more meaningful impressions on their target audience.

Simply hosting an event, however, isn’t enough. Attendees have high expectations, and they need an engaging in-event experience if they’re going to walk away with a positive impression of your brand. Fortunately, the rise of online technologies has been matched by the rise of in-person experiential tech.

Depending on your budget and the type of event you’re hosting, there is a wide variety of experiential tech that will impress attendees, keep them engaged, and ultimately help you make a long-lasting and positive impression on your audience. Keep reading to learn more about five of the best in-event technologies—from budget-friendly and versatile options to show-stopping tech. The cost of each activation depends on how and to what extent you use it, but the following is roughly ordered at price from lowest to highest.

1. NFC credentials

Near-field communication (NFC) makes it possible for two devices to communicate with each other when they come into close contact, and it’s becoming ubiquitous. If you’ve ever had a keycard at a hotel, for example, that simply requires you to tap a reader to unlock your door, you’ve used NFC-enabled technology.

NFC badges or wristbands are becoming must-haves for events, and there is a wide variety of ways you can use them. On a basic level, NFC can streamline your event’s check-in. Rather than having your attendees wait in line as someone on your team manually checks each guest in, NFC allows you to create a swift, digital check-in process.

The use cases for NFC, however, are wide-ranging, and you can get creative with in-event NFC activations to best serve and engage your guests. Depending on the type of focus of your event, you can enable NFC to help attendees quickly take photos, tweet, or interact with a brand with the simple swipe of a badge or wristband. If you want to learn more about how NFC can be used at events, watch this video about how the New York Food and Wine Festival used NFC-enabled wristbands to create an interactive experience for attendees.

2. Social wall

Your attendees cannot help but become distracted by their phones, tablets, or laptops. Instead of discouraging the use of second screens, encourage their use in ways that will help attendees more deeply engage with your event.

Whether you’re using a large TV or a projection screen, stream a live update of your event’s hashtag. If people can see their tweets on the big screen as they’re tweeting, they’ll be more inclined to live-tweet what’s happening or post photos of their experience. As attendees take notes in the form of tweets, they’ll be using social media to deepen their engagement with your event, rather than distract themselves from it.  

Need help with your social media strategy for events? Our pre, during, and post-event checklist can help you.

3. Data visualization

Much like NFC-enabled tech, an in-event data visualization activation can be customized for each event. Part of Event Farm’s experiential technology platform (EFx), for example, is a completely customized Data Visualization application that displays a specific set of information based on data collected from event attendees. This creates an interactive experience where attendees can take a specific action and see the result of their action reflected on the data visualization screen.

For example, Charity: Water, a nonprofit that brings clean drinking water to people in developing countries, used the Data Visualization application at an experiential fundraising campaign to help attendees understand the challenges that some communities face in getting clean water. Attendees taking part in the activation would participate in a virtual reality experience and then would have the option to interact with one of 20 “pods” to trigger a charitable donation. After each donation, plasma screens were updated with the running tally, encouraging other attendees to donate as well.

4. Digital gifting wall

Think of the digital gifting wall as the swag bag 2.0. Using NFC-enabled tech, attendees have the option to touch their badge to tablets embedded in the digital gifting wall, after which the gift is sent to their device. Like a lot of experiential technologies, the digital gifting wall can be completely customized for your event. If you’re hosting an event that features a musician or artist, for example, one of your digital gifts could be a soundtrack or playlist from that artist. If you’re hosting a business event, a digital gift could feature a helpful guide that appeals to your audience.

No matter the size, scope, or purpose of your event, a digital gifting wall will help engage attendees during your event, and, importantly, will give them something to keep your business top-of-mind once the event has ended.

5. Audio bar

A combination of good music and creative cocktails, the audio bar’s tablets present attendees with an audio track cocktail menu. Attendees select their “audio mood” and mixologists create their cocktails accordingly.

The audio bar’s best use-case, of course, is when you’re trying to entertain your guests, not educate them. Whether it’s at an album’s release party or a happy hour at the end of a conference, the audio bar is an attention-grabbing and memorable alternative to a typical bar and one that will help you deliver a positive brand experience to your audience.

Lauren is the Content Strategist at Event Farm, an event and experiential marketing software company

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